Tuesday, February 10, 2015

What makes the Langham a great hotel? Head to Melbourne to find out

LANGHAM HOTEL DOWN UNDER PERSONIFIES EXCELLENCE, UNDERSTATEMENT, LOCATION

View at dusk from our Langham bedroom yields the splendid Yarra River, train station, cathedral and Federation Square.  
Stately St. Paul's Cathedral and lively Federation Square
make a fascinating, well integrated pair in Melbourne. 

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

YOU MIGHT not remember that you asked your waiter for a cup of mint tea, to point you calmly toward dream land before you hit the sack.
Perhaps you don't recall that you put a sprinkle of cinnamon on your morning cappuccino.

Beautiful teas and sweets are part
of the presentation at Melbourne's
legendary Langham Hotel.
But a good waiter watches, remembers!
If you enjoy your white wine with a single ice cube, you'll get that!
If you like your slippers by the bed, or nightie on the pillow, the housekeeper will make it happen.  The staff in a fine hotel knows these things and offers service with gracious ease. Superb service comes with training, practice and cultivation of "people skills." The Langham folks like what they do.
 THE LANGHAM personnel of Melbourne, Australia, knew and remembered our names, greeted us with sincerity and smiles, and went beyond the call to make our stay a highlight of a seven-week trip.
Federation Square, affectionately known as "The Fed," is a lively, dramatic
centerpiece of Melbourne life, and a fascinating place to spend time.
Our memorable visit to the much heralded Langham proved that splendid service is alive and flourishing Down Under. The Melbourne landmark is a shining star in a distinguished international hotel group, ranked a top hotel worldwide.  It distinguishes itself from the moment one enters the lobby.
We enjoyed a refreshing cocktail as we completed registration then were shown to our beautifully appointed room and champagne. We toasted vistas inside and out.
MELBOURNE'S Yarra River and the impressive Melbourne skyline were bathed in a coral and blue sunset from the Langham's prime location. We loved being
A lovely Langham bedroom -- with fine
 art, plants and a river view. 
a stone's throw from the city's cutting edge art scene, and its beautiful Federation Square. "The Fed" is a progressive mixed-


use development on three "prime space" hectares, with two well loved public spaces and a huge screen for broadcasting sports and cultural events. We enjoyed a boys' choir
The Langham, with its distinctive golden "L" symbol, awash in evening lights.
concert, broadcast from the nearby arts center. Tourists and locals alike relaxed on comfy lawn chairs as the emcee asked, "Can you hear us there at The Fed?" (Cheers, bravos, applause.)
Sweet treats -- the Langham club lounge
offers breakfast fruits, afternoon pastries.
DURING OUR five "Langham Camelot days," as we dubbed our stay, we watched life unfold at Federation Square, took several short cruises on the Yarra and strolled Flinders Street, Swanston Street and St. Kilda Road, all well known arteries in Melbourne's central business district.
A 1997 architectural competition resulted in construction of "Fed Square," now known throughout the southern hemisphere for its grace, boldness and multitude of uses -- shops, bars, restaurants, meeting place, concert hall.
The iconic Flinders Street Station, opened in 1909, with its golden facade and arched entrance, is a work of art.  Bold, modern "Fed" Square, originally controversial, now stands proudly across from St. Paul's Cathedral: Square and church happy, integrated.
WHAT A TREAT to return to the Langham, with its lovely lights and welcoming "L" -- plus vintage pink auto out front, emphasizing the Langham's penchant for pastels.
The hotel is a sanctuary nestled on Melbourne's stylish Southbank Promenade. From dining at Melba -- named after the famed Melbourne-born opera diva -- to cocktails at Aria Lounge, the Langham oozes artful style.  We didn't sample the fitness center, nor Chuan Spa. But friends from Germany and Japan reported the hotel's holistic wellness sanctuary's massage and facials use traditional Chinese medicine principles.
We did try the Langham's 15-meter indoor pool -- when we weren't frolicking lively Melbourne's streets or luxuriating in our river-view room!

MORE COMING: Train travel in Australia and New Zealand is an art. We continue the whereiscookie travel and cruise tradition each Wednesday. Look for the arts and literature on weekends at www.lilianslastdance.com. Remember to explore, learn and live!

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