Signature checks in to … The Langham, Sydney
With its urbane sophistication and unerring service, it isn’t hard to see why Langham’s Sydney address is a favourite with well-heeled visitors. Cathy Wagstaff steps inside to discover water views, a star-lit pool and an out-of-this-world bar menu.
The Langham, Sydney is like a little pocket of Europe in my own backyard. Tucked between the Harbour Bridge, The Rocks tourism hub and bustling-but-cool Barangaroo, the hotel is set on a quiet, leafy boulevard-like street and boasts light-filled rooms and suites with views of the city and the harbour. Beyond its marble lobby, The Langham serves up distinguished experiences, from a Wedgwood high tea to indulgent subterranean spa treatments.
Traveller: Cathy Wagstaff
Room: Deluxe King Room
Address: 89–113 Kent Street, Sydney NSW 2000
Date: November 2018
Best for: A city retreat that is both tranquil and central, with the best hotel bar I’ve found in Australia.
The Signature factor
Although some might say the underground pool with its ‘star-studded’ ceiling or the unwavering service that’s as attentive to pets as it is for human guests, my attention is drawn to the relatively new Observatory Bar. Opened in October 2018, mixologist and bar manager Dave Green has gathered some of the world’s most coveted and hard-to-find spirits to create a destination for true connoisseurs. The drinks list is both out of this world and down to earth, showcasing Australian ingredients in new and inventive ways. While I’m not quite brave enough to try the Green Ant Martini – Australian Green Ant Gin (yes, it’s a thing), saltbush, lemon myrtle aromatics and green ants – I’m now a devotee of Green’s less controversial signature drink, Neap Tide, a refreshing concoction of homemade finger lime syrup, Ironbark Distillery Wattleseed Gin, a dash of Australian sparkling wine and paperbark smoke, all topped with small plate bearing botanicals and a Sydney rock oyster.
Located in a rare quiet corner of the historic Rocks district, The Langham, Sydney is the CBD hotel for visitors seeking tranquillity, refinement and a dash of Langham pink. The 98 rooms and suites exude sophistication in crisp white complemented by dark wood, tufted furnishings in soft shades and bold dashes of colour. Rooms overlook the growing Barangaroo precinct and the harbour beyond, or over Kent Street towards Observatory Hill, site of the first observatory in Australia. Contemporary dining experiences, a standout spa and fitness centre and a landmark location combine to make The Langham, Sydney a coveted gem in the Harbour City’s premium hotel landscape.
There’s nothing quite like stepping off Kent Street into the marble lobby of The Langham, Sydney. In the midst of towering apartment buildings, the three-storey hotel is understated in its beauty, with an immense, curving glass canopy suspended over the street and a pink dog bowl for four-legged guests. Inside, Australian art dominates the walls (curated in partnership with Sotheby’s), while a large chandelier of lamps casts a soft glow over the white marble surfaces. Up the short staircase, trimmed with a bronze bannister, is a cluster of teal armchairs and a table, topped with the brightest orchids, facing the bronze doors of the lifts. Check-in is around the corner in another marble room, facing out to the harbour.
Room 234 is a welcome haven of crisp white linen and floor-to-ceiling French doors, opening onto a Juliet balcony with views of Barangaroo and the Western Harbour for a Parisian feel. There is a plate of beautifully presented macarons laid out on the table in the lounge area, and a copy of Signature on my bedside table alongside the pillow menu. The full-size marble bathroom is spacious with the must-have fluffy white robe, and the mini-bar is well stocked.
The one-bedroom Observatory Suite is a 122-square-metre eyrie looking out to the historic observatory and its surrounding parkland. Tall windows flood the drawing room and master bedroom in light, and the dining room seats eight for a grand evening affair.
At 110 square metres, the Residence is a similarly stunning suite, designed for modern city living with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a contemporary kitchenette.
On my plate
Executive chef Dave Whitting has created simply elegant menus for upscale Bistro Remy and the opulent setting, yet relaxed ambience, of the Palm Court. Here, meat and fish fresh from the grill sit side by side on the menu with Sydney rock oysters, burrata with green tomato gazpacho, handmade gnocchi, braised lamb shoulder and the signature pork belly with apple crème and crispy pig ear. I select a warmly spiced entrée of roasted pumpkin, confit garlic and fried kale, followed by salmon with celeriac remoulade, nettle purée and kombu butter. Although the desserts – vanilla bavarois, saffron parfait honey foam, charred goat’s cheese marshmallow and coconut and kalamansi curd – are tempting, I opt for a cheese platter served with housemade quince paste.
Palm Court is also the destination for what is arguably Sydney’s finest high tea experience, Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood.
The Day Spa by Chuan is an underground sanctuary, immediately soothing with muted tones and dim lighting. Facials and body treatments use German Babor cosmeceuticals – including the luscious Champagne Pear Massage with Babor Shaping Body Cream – while signature body therapies call on traditional Eastern techniques. My one-hour Relaxation Massage relieves my body of any tension, just in time to return to work on Monday.
The Health Club is an all-inclusive destination to keep you fit while travelling, complete with whirlpool and steam rooms. The highlight is the 20-metre pool, evoking Romanesque baths with stone columns and a ceiling illuminated with ‘stars’. If you prefer to take your exercise outside, head across the road to the champion-size tennis court and Club House.
It’s easy to while away a day going from tennis court to Health Club to spa treatment to Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood. Working up a sweat eases the guilt when helping yourself to another of those tantalising scones.
Round out a day at my new favourite haunt, Observatory Bar. Dave Whitting was also responsible for this compact but delicious menu, all made featuring fresh local produce, and the perfect complement to the exclusive drinks list.
The Langham, Sydney is ideally located to take advantage of the city’s historic precincts, strolling up to Observatory Hill Park, wandering the cobblestone streets of The Rocks and walking along the waterfront of Walsh Bay (home to Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Dance Company, among other creative organisations). It’s also close to the growing Barangaroo area, a buzzing hub of restaurants, cafes, bars and shops and the city’s newest parkland, Barangaroo Reserve.
Enjoy an easy walk down to Circular Quay, the Opera House and the Royal Botanic Gardens beyond, or across to the main shopping areas of Pitt Street Mall, Castlereagh Street and the Queen Victoria Building. A light rail line is due to open in 2020, linking this central district with The Rocks along George Street.
I had more time to stay longer and work my way through the Observatory Bar cocktail list and bar menu. Thankfully, as a Sydney resident, I can return as often as I please.
The Langham, Sydney is all class and the epitome of hotel style. The service is top-notch, and it gets a 10 out of 10 from us.
Where to find The Langham, Sydney
The hotel is located on the Millers Point end of Kent Street, a leafy and residential area wrapping around Observatory Hill Park, between Barangaroo and The Rocks.