'Service with poise' at NYC Langham

Rooms at the Langham Place, New York, Fifth Avenue boast Duxiana beds and Pratesi linens.
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After one of the most miserable flight experiences in recent memory, my night seemed to be going from bad to worse when the cabbie had to do a few circles around the block to find the Langham Place, New York, Fifth Avenue.

Granted, it's in a rather unusual spot for a luxury hotel in the city, in the heart of midtown near the Empire State Building. But my nerves and patience were already pushed to the limit.

All the frustrations, however, evaporated the minute I stepped out of the cab.

The doorman was there to whisk me straight from the cab into the small but modern lobby. There, I was greeted with a glass of Champagne and escorted to a luxurious suite that was bigger than most New York apartments.

The hotel’s marble-clad bathrooms feature rainfall showerheads.
The hotel’s marble-clad bathrooms feature rainfall showerheads.

The decor: luxuriously simple in neutral colors with floor-to-ceiling windows along the outer walls of the living rooms and bedrooms that made the already spacious rooms seem even larger. Even the standard rooms are large by New York standards, with the smallest at 420 square feet. And anyone who has ever spent any time in the city knows there is nothing more luxurious than space — combined with service, of course.

In that vein, the refrigerator was stocked with soda, waters and juice, all complimentary. The WiFi was powerful and free. And in the true test of the night, a call to the desk for a toothbrush was met in record time: Less than two minutes after I placed the call, a young man was delivering two toothbrushes and a tube of paste.

I shouldn't have been surprised, given the hotel's origins. Opened nearly five years ago as the Setai, which was managed by the ultraluxury Capella brand, the property joined Langham about two years ago, giving the Hong Kong-based luxury hotel operator a flagship in this coveted U.S. gateway market. Langham also has hotels in Chicago, Boston and Pasadena, Calif.

I was greeted with a glass of Champagne and escorted to a suite that was bigger than most New York apartments.

Though now based in Asia, the Langham brand carries the name of the Europe's first "Grand Hotel," which opening in London in 1865.

But while the luxury heritage is clear, the hotel is anything but stuffy or traditional.

"We call it service with poise," said General Manager Francois-Olivier Luiggi.

While the Langham hotels are more classic, Langham Place hotels are contemporary luxury. The decor at the Fifth Avenue property is understated urban chic, with Swedish Duxiana beds, Italian Pratesi linens and large, marble-clad bathrooms with rainfall showerheads. 

The Measure bar.
The Measure bar.

Downstairs is a popular street-level bar, Measure. And up one level is the Michelin-starred Ai Fiori, which features Italian and French cuisine from chef Michael White.

The hotel also has a large workout room, and a large full-service spa that is being upgraded and renovated to carry the Langham spa brand, Chuan, which will offer traditional Chinese treatments.

As for the location: While it might seem a bit odd at first, it is right on the edge of the trendy NoMad neighborhood and is an easy walk to Greenwich Village, the High Line and both Grand Central and Penn stations.

"Once people come here, they never want to go somewhere else," Luiggi said. "It's so central. … We joke that you go left to go work. And if you want to have fun you go south."

Rates start at $650. See www.langhamhotels.com.

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