Monday, February 21, 2011

Big Breakfast of the Week 6: Roux at the Landau, The Langham Hotel, London

Ah, a proper breakfast in a proper venue!  Triple P was entertained at The Langham hotel a couple of weeks ago and had a quite splendid breakfast.  A particularly good sausage, bacon, eggs, tomato and mushroom with very good wholewheat toast, fresh red grapefruit juice and leaf tea.  The service was exceptionally good and the Landau restaurant, with its large windows facing on to Regent Street, is a nice airy venue.

Roux at the Landau restaurant

Triple P likes The Langham, one of his favourite hotels in London, handily located close to Oxford Circus.  He enjoys the splendid Artesian bar where they do one of the best Vodka Martinis in London and the Palm Court there was really the original venue for the  hotel afternoon tea.

The Langham Hotel after its opening

Opening in June 1865 with a gala lunch in the presence of the Prince of Wales, The Langham was really the first purpose built Grand Hotel in Europe. It cost £300,000 to build but the original backers went bust and it was sold for less than half that in 1870.  From then on, however, the hotel was a success and guests included Mark Twain, Napoleon III, Antonín Dvořák, Arturo Toscanini, Noel Coward, Emperor Haile Selassie and Wallis Simpson, to name but a few. 

The Langham in 1899

In 1889 Arthur Conan Doyle and Oscar Wilde met the magazine publisher Joseph Stoddart at the Langham.  As a result they wrote the Sign of Four and The Picture of Dorian Gray, respectivley, for Stoddart's magazine Lippinscott's Monthly.  Indeed, Conan Doyle set part of The Sign of Four in the Langham.

Bomb damage at the Langham in World War 2

The hotel struggled during the depression and in World War 2 was used by the army but was damaged by bombs and had to close.  After the war the BBC, who had declined to buy the property in the thirties and built Broadcasting House across the street instead, started to rent it and bought it outright in 1965.  It housed the BBC record library and also contained recording studios (The Goon Show was recorded there). 

The proposed Norman Foster BBC Radio Centre on the site of The Langham

The BBC applied to get it demolished in 1980 and have it replaced by a Norman Foster building; The BBC Radio Centre.  This would have replced The Langham with a hideous glass faced construction. Fortunately, their application was turned down and in 1986 it was bought by the Ladbroke group who owned the Hilton name outside the US.  They spent £100 on refurbishing it, opening it as the Langham Hilton in 1991.  Agent Triple P visited it for lunch a week after opening and stayed there a couple of times with his particular friend SA.  They had a particularly good Vodka bar there and if you ordered a Vodka they didn't have they would offer you a free alternative. 

The Langham today

In 1998 it was sold again to a Hong Kong based group who called themselves The Langham Group and now have a number of properties across the world.  Another £80 million of renovation took place between 2004 and 2009 to bring it up to its now splendid state, which we have recently enjoyed with B on one of her London visits.

The Langham in Goldeneye

It has appeared in several films and the exterior stood in for the Hotel Europa in St Petersburg in the James Bond film Goldeneye (1995).

So, this was one of the highest quality breakfasts that Triple P has had lately, although lacking somewhat in the additional items that Triple P likes to see.  However, the service is so good and the ambience so welcoming that  it easily gets a 9/10.

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