A dream getaway
A graceful hotel will make you understand luxury, writes Fiona Byrne
AS you motor through the quiet tree-lined streets, past elegant homes with manicured lawns before sweeping up a grand driveway, you realise something special awaits at the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa.
Arriving at the sophisticated getaway in Pasadena is like taking a serene step back to a by-gone age.
The Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa offers a luxury experience in graceful surroundings.
This a true escape, where you can find peace and relax, be pampered and unwind in first class surrounding, yet be a 30-minute drive from Los Angeles.
A Pasadena landmark, the Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa was built in 1906 as the Wentworth Hotel. Railroad tycoon Henry Huntington bought it in 1911 and renamed it the Huntington Hotel.
The hotel established a reputation as a grand resort and, 98 years later, the building and its surroundings retain that feeling of pride and elegance.
There is a sense of old Hollywood about the hotel, with its glamorous pool and nearby picture bridge.
Because of the privacy and standard of service, the hotel is a favourite of the A-list celebrity set. Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross held her star-studded wedding at the property two years ago.
For my getaway the Terrace Restaurant, which overlooks the pool, was a favoured dining destination on warm Californian evenings. And taking tea in the elegant Lobby Lounge was a treat.
A farewell dinner at The Dining Room was a culinary experience to be treasured.
The Dining Room, under the guidance of chef de cuisine Craig Strong, won a Michelin Star in 2007.
The hotel is a comfortable car ride from most of the main attractions of LA. Warner Bros studio, where shows such as the monster hit Two and A Half Men are filmed, is 20 minutes’ drive— and I can recommend the VIP studio tour.
You can be seated and starspotting at the Ivy, the famed Hollywood eatery, sipping a Bellini 30 minutes after leaving the hotel lobby. Eat on the outdoor terrace and watch the paparazzi swirl looking for celebrities, then check out the shopping on Robertson Boulevard.
But you do not necessarily have to venture back into the city. There is plenty to do in Pasadena.
You could easily spend a day at the fascinating Huntington Library, Art Collection and Botanical Gardens. The gardens are breathtaking, and include a small Australian corner.
Those wanting a little retail therapy can indulge in the Old Town Pasadena shopping strip, a fiveminute drive from the hotel.
Culture vultures will be entranced by the nearby Norton Simon Museum, which houses etchings by Rembrandt and Goya, and graphics by Picasso.
But you don’t even need to leave the hotel.
One of the most unique aspects of the Langham Huntington is that it is set on 10ha of private grounds with views of the magnificent San Gabriel mountains.
Walking though the Japanese garden or enjoying sunsets from the horseshoe lawn are treats in themselves.
And then there is the spa. The Huntington Spa is a tranquil escape from the world at large.
The Spa was voted one of the top 10 spas in the US and Canada by the readers of Travel + Leisure magazine, and it is a delight.
You feel special to be a guest at the Langham.
The service is first class, nothing is too much trouble and for a firsttime visitor to California the staff could not have been more helpful or informative when advising where to go and what to do in Pasadena and then Los Angeles.
The Huntington, with 380 guestrooms, suites and cottages, evokes the splendour of days gone by, and after experiencing it once, it is a splendour I intend to revisit.
The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa in Pasadena, where Desperate Housewives star Marcia Cross (inset) became a real-life wife.