Saturday, November 29, 2014

Modern Luxury, Urban Sophistication: Langham Place 5th Avenue

We've all heard hotels claim to go above and beyond the call of duty for ALL of their guests.  But how many of us who aren't part of their Elite membership levels have really seen it or experienced it from check-in to check-out?  In my travels, I know I sure have not...until now.

It all started two months prior to check-in.  I get to my email and lo and behold there is a welcome email from the Langham Place's Personal Assistant Team.  What is the role of the hotel's Personal Assistant Team you ask?  Well, according to them, it is a combination of the traditional hotel concierge with the more personalized experience of a personal assistant.  In a Global Metropolis such as New York City, this experience is essential.

I had booked this trip to New York as a trip for my daughter's 13th birthday.  I let the Personal Assistants know this, and replied back in kind.  A few days later, I find at my doorstep a FedEx package from the hotel, with a personal note from our Personal Assistant, Derek, to my daughter wishing her a very happy birthday and enclosed please find passes to the Empire State Building observatory, and a few other things to get her psyched up for the trip.  My jaw dropped and I was awestruck.  I've noted special occasions on hotel reservations before, but never...NEVER...have I ever had a reply such as this!  Anyways, moving on!

The day of travel finally came around.  Because of our weird multiple leg flight itinerary on both Frontier Airlines (my daughter made me promise to book her on Frontier for her birthday) and US Airways, we didn't get into New York's iconic John F. Kennedy Airport until 11PM or so, but our driver was there waiting for us, and once baggage was collected, off we went back in that (shameless Ace Frehley plug) New York Groove.

Arrival and check-in at the Langham Place was a breeze and welcoming.  We couldn't have been the only late arrivals, but, the front desk staff recognized me and welcomed me by name, and not with those fake and cheesy smiles you'll get from other accommodations, but a genuine warm greeting from someone who is genuinely happy your at his establishment.  With that same warm smile, the bellman took our luggage up and gave us a tour of the room.

Because we had booked a package deal, and wanted a slightly larger room since there was supposed to be three of us originally.  The 900 square foot room was amazingly spacious and well laid out.  The two Duxiana Queen beds were spaced well enough apart and the room overlooked 5th Avenue down below.  The Walk-in closet was pretty massive and spacious for all our belongings, with nothing left out in the open.  The bathroom was drop dead gorgeous.  From the deep soak tub and Italian marble throughout, to the deep, glass-enclosed rainfall shower, we felt truly at home here.  My daughter's favorite feature in the bathroom was the Magic Mirror, with the TV built inside.  Also at our disposal was the minibar with complimentary drinks, a very cool Nespresso machine with a fine selection of Nescafe and Teavana coffee/tea packs, our own personal use of the house car (a Maserati Quattroporte, on a first come, first serve basis), and free pressing of up to 5 items upon arrival.

Since it was my daughter's birthday present, and she's into art and music, I had booked the Little Collectors package for the trip, which includes an 8x10 limited edition framed print by David Levinthal, a signed copy of his book "Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty", a Lego model of the Empire State Building, and several other nice additions, including passes, entry and private escorted tours through some of the greatest art museums in Chelsea.  As with any package, there are blackout dates, and you must stay a minimum of 2 nights.

The next day we had a pleasant surprise waiting for us after we got back from lunch.  The Personal Assistants desk called our room and asked if we'd like a tour of the hotel.  Absolutely!  We beat feet down to the lobby and met up with Tina, one of the Personal Assistants, and Matt, from the Front Desk, who wound up taking us on the tour.  We started off by visiting the 20th floor, and into one of the hotel's Signature Langham Suites.  At 1,040 square feet, the Langham Suite has a LOT of space and room to move around!  The suites come equipped with private laundry facilities (located in the closet, right next to the bathroom entry from the bedroom side), and a separate living room and a small kitchen area.  The bathroom is the same size as the Family Place bathroom (which in itself is massive), and the nightly rate for the Langham Suite is not that much more than any of the Empire State View rooms.  Heck, with the Langham Suite, you have your pick of either a 5th Avenue view, or the Manhattan Skyline view.

Next we were taken up to the 22nd floor and into the Empire Suite.  Slightly smaller than the Langham Suites, the Empire Suites are still pretty spacious at 935 square feet.  The main difference in the Empire Suite is the view, floor to ceiling windows allow guests to view the iconic Empire State Building in all its glory (or as far as your neck will allow you to crane).  Another difference is the price, and the addition of a half-bath at the entry of the separate living area.  If falling asleep with the Empire States majesty is your thing, this is THE room for you!

Suitably impressed with the Suites, Matt took us downstairs to the 3rd floor, and the meeting spaces, business center, and current fitness center.  In a town where meetings are an hourly occurrence, the Langham Place 5th Avenue is all set up and capitalizes on its amazing location as THE place to hold any sort of function, be it business or personal.  Down the hall from the meeting rooms are two closed in alcoves with computer and printer access, and the 3,100 square foot Gym just around the corner from there.  The Gym will be moved to the 4th floor, adjacent to the Chuan Spa when the hotel goes in for a major renovation in 2015, which makes more sense, and adds more value to the Spa's guests.  All in all, not a bad size gym, and had I brought my workout stuff with me on this trip, I'd take advantage of this awesome facility, and maybe even try out the famed Chuan Spa.

Off we went, downstairs to the 2nd floor, and into the Michelin starred Ai Fiori Restaurant.  Aside from winning their first Michelin star and well on their way to a 2nd, Ai Fiori has just recently been awarded recognition from Relais and Chateaux, the ultra luxe and strict organization of exclusive hoteliers and restaurateurs.  While we were there, we were awarded with reservations for that Saturday night, our last night in the city, even thought the restaurant has had no seating for the last week or so for that particular night (Thank you Matt!).

Last, but not least, was the trek down to the main floor, and into Measure, the hotel's superb lounge, where the bartenders hold court and make some amazing drinks with showmanship and flair. Measure has to be the best place on 5th Avenue to unwind and sip a drink while waiting for dinner upstairs or just to chill out before or after a shopping binge.  A fantastic tour nonetheless, and Matt proved his knowledge and experience beyond a shadow of a doubt.  The same can be said for the Personal Assistants I met.  Derek, Tina, and Lillyann helped us out tremendously during our stay.  Their roles alone are well worth the nightly rate at the Langham Place, not to mention the unmatched room amenities and levels of comfort.  The absolute attention to detail and knowledge and experience of not only the surrounding area, but of New York in general, and of the rest of the Langham portfolio of properties have left me looking forward to my next stay at ANY of the Langham hotels.

The professional opinion of this travel agent is: By all means, whenever you have a trip to New York City, and are in the 5th Avenue/Empire State Building area, the Langham Place 5th Avenue should be your one and only place to lay your head at night.  I strongly urge all my clients to book here, each and every time.

Photos courtesy of the Langham Place 5th Avenue and from the author's private collection.