WHAT'S IT LIKE? Formerly known as The Observatory Hotel and owned by Orient Express Hotels, the property was purchased by the Langham Hospitality Group last year and rebranded as the Langham, Sydney. The hotel had taken its name from the nearby Sydney Observatory, a short walk up Observatory Hill from the property and from where there are panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and the city's iconic bridge.
The hotel is housed within a low-rise Georgian-style building, and has an elegant, traditional feel throughout, from the lobby and meeting facilities to the guest rooms. The property also has the largest private collection of Australian painter Sidney Nolan's works in the country, as well as an extensive collection of cartoons by US artist Peter Arno adorning the walls of Galileo restaurant.
The Langham, Sydney is the second property by the group in Australia, joining the Langham, Melbourne.
WHERE IS IT? On the relatively quiet Kent Street, five-ten minutes' walk from The Rocks, Sydney's historic district and popular tourist destination. Being on the west side of Observatory Hill means the hotel does not have views of the Sydney Opera House, but rooms do look out over Walsh Bay and the entrance to Darling Harbour (over land which is earmarked for future development). Circular Quay is located around ten minutes' walk from the property, with its ferry terminal and rail station on the city's Airport Link network.
ROOM FACILITIES The Grand Langham room category makes up the vast majority of the hotel's guest room inventory, with rooms measuring an impressive 49 sqm. All rooms feature king-size or twin beds, bathrooms with double basins and separate bathtubs and showers, a workdesk, and an armchair and coffee table.
Decor is elegant, with mahogany furnishings and marble bathrooms – Langham has plans to refurbish rooms and public areas although these have not yet been finalised. While the traditional feel may not be to everyone's taste, the group has already modernised the in-room entertainment offering, adding on-demand movies, cable TV and wifi internet access (free to 1865 members, a club which can be joined free of charge after your first stay with Langham).
Other room facilities including an iPod docking station, CD/DVD player, mini bar, safe, iron and ironing board, tea and coffee facilities and air conditioning.
The view from our room looked out over the entrance to Darling Harbour. The major Barangaroo development is located between the hotel and the water, and will eventually house a new waterfront precint, parkland, office and residential space, and new transport links, but a spokesperson for Langham assured Business Traveller that the section of the development in front of the hotel will become parkland, so there should be no restriction to guests' views across to the water.
A suite at the Langham, Sydney
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The hotel's bar and restaurants are located on the ground floor, and continue the traditional feel of the rest of the property. Galileo restaurant is open for breakfast and dinner, and when we visited for breakfast it felt like taking a step back in time. Attentive waiters impeccably dressed in traditional whites serve a la carte dishes on fine china, while we sat on elegant antique furniture surrounded by dozens of cartoons by Peter Arno, depicting New York society in the early to mid-1900s.
A buffet choice was also available, with choices including cold meats and cheeses, pastries, cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurts, nuts and dried fruit. There was also a stand holding a large piece of honeycomb from which dripped honey straight into a bowl for guests to dip into – this is clearly a popular offering in Sydney as three other hotels we stayed at had the same thing. I didn't eat here for dinner, but am told the menu features "modern Australian cuisine with a French twist". An online menu detailing the a la carte and tasting menu options is available here.
Globe Bar and Brasserie is equally impressive, with timber-walled panels and leather armchairs. Western, Asian and tapas dishes are available, as well as the daily "Tiffin at the Langham", an afternoon tea offering "petite sandwiches, freshly baked scones, cakes and delicacies on three-tiered stands" (full menu can be seen here).
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are a total of seven meeting and events spaces at the hotel, the largest of which is the 150-capacity Observatory Ballroom which can be divided into two separate rooms and which features floor-to-ceiling windows. The Oriental-inspired Parlour room can hold up to 70 guests, while the Drawing Room can also accommodate up to 70, and has the most traditional feel, with antique-style furniture and a plush patterned carpet. When not being used for an event this room doubles up as a lounge area, and has a computer connected to the internet for guest use.
Finally, four boardrooms can each hold up to ten people and have a more modern feel, with ergonomic chairs, coffee machines and flatscreen TVs.
LEISURE FACILITIES The hotel's spa facilities are located on the sub-basement level, and the swimming pool is arguably the highlight of the property. Beautifully lit and with the feel of an open-air Roman baths (the ceiling depicts a night sky complete with twinkling stars), it's a very relaxing place, and at 20 metres the pool is large enough for a proper workout. Facilities include a spa bath, sauna and steam rooms, a fitness centre with newly-delivered Technogym equipment and ten treatment rooms.
Langham also manages a hard-court tennis court opposite the hotel, which can be booked online on the Langham website here.
VERDICT A peaceful hotel, with large, elegant rooms, a wonderful swimming pool and excellent staff.
- How many rooms? 96, of which 75 are Grand Langham rooms, eight are Junior Suites, 12 are The Langham Suites, and one if the Observatory Suite.
- Highlights Galileo restaurant with its Peter Arno cartoons, and the subterranean swimming pool – large enough for a proper workout and relaxing enough to while away an hour or two in one of the loungers.
- Price Fully-flexible internet rates for a midweek stay in mid-September started from AUD $315.
- Contact The Langham, Sydney, 89-113 Kent Street, Sydney; tel +61 (2) 9256 2222; sydney.langhamhotels.com.au