By Patrick Lucas
Melbourne’s days have shortened and temperatures have dropped. Gone are the lazy autumn afternoons of soaking in your surroundings as you cruise around the green pastures of the outer-CBD. Walking becomes a chore; head down and hands in pockets. It’s hard to beat the winter blues and any chance you get to remind yourself of this town’s beauty without facing its cold is a golden egg.
We found that by way of staying the night at The Langham. A 5-star hotel located at Southbank that gives you a breathtaking panorama of Melbourne in utter comfort.
Voted the Top City Hotel in Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific by Travel + Leisure in 2013, it’s just a few minutes walk from the Arts Centre and the National Gallery of Victoria. You’ll never be more than a short walk from some of the city’s top destinations that line the Yarra River.
As soon you as pass through the entrance be prepared for a spectacular sight. Marble water-features elegantly grow out from the stairways of the lobby, while the chandeliers and wall art fills out the space mightily. This is a triumph of grandeur and grace unparalleled in Melbourne.
The lovely concierge led us up to our room on the 23rd floor while explaining what The Langham had to offer; afternoon tea, something called the Club Lounge, spa and sauna and so on. A quick changeover and we’ll be on our way.
The soft and classic colour-scheme is what first captured my attention. The light coming from the honey-coloured lampshades felt like a welcome hug. This, coupled with the touches of burgundy to go along with the heavily textured and cream wallpaper, was consistent with the rest of the hotel; refined and beautiful.
The marble bathroom isn’t huge, though it does have enough space for a separate shower and bath. The Chuan Spa bath salts and body wash were an upgrade from anything my toiletry bag had to offer. While the bath was lovely for one you definitely wont fit anymore in there.
The room also comes with a 42-inch TV (with pay-per-view films and Foxtel) as well as all the gadgets to hook up your iPhones, laptops and so on. The amenities were thoughtful and for a little extra you can join The Langham Hotel Club Lounge which (amongst other perks) will grant you unlimited internet access as well as three pressed garments and a shoe polishing during your stay.
The famed king-size Blissful bed certainly lived up to its billing. Yet it’s the picture outside the room that will astound as much as inside. The views overlooking Melbourne’s CBD are truly special.
Melbourne’s iconic crossroads juxtaposes its history right in front of you; the neo-gothic St Paul’s Cathedral looming alongside the modish practicality of Federation Square. The Langham echoes this sentiment, the elegance of its 1876 Grand Hotel roots in London, with whisks of modernity that bring your stay to life.
If you want to enjoy this panorama make sure you request a north-facing or riverside view. Equally, for a little extra you can request a room with a balcony to really soak it in.
Our next point of call was up to the Club Lounge for a quick complimentary afternoon-tea. The Club Lounge offered a simple yet refined selection of nibbles and treats. The chicken and chive finger-sandwiches had some bite but weren’t too heavy, while the smoked salmon tea sandwiches followed by a chocolate tart and opera cake offered a lovely precursor to what was really on our mind, tea and scones.
Served with a classic clotted cream and raspberry jam (with a pot of earl grey on the side) these scones were light as a feather and capped a lovely first stop.
The lounge itself could do with a facelift but the service is impeccable. Attentive without being overwhelming, it was a very relaxing way to begin our stay.
Knowing the pool and spa closed at 9pm, we thought we’d better make our way down before dinner.
Being the first day of winter it wasn’t ideal weather to spend on the enormous deck, but there is a level of comfort in being somewhere warm while you watch the winds pick up and the clouds immerse the space outside; the indoor spa and pool offer just that.
While the sauna could crank up a few degrees, the steam room hits the spot. All of this is complimentary, however if you want a massage or any other offering from Chuan Spa, it will cost extra.
Feeling fresh from the spa it was on to dinner.
The Langham’s main restaurant is the Melba. It runs thorough and famous dining throughout the day with breakfast, lunch and dinner services. Feeling gluttonous, we opted for the buffet (though they offer a la carte dining too).
I’m always squeamish at the idea of a buffet dinner… too much range with too little quality. But Melba traverses across culinary styles with astute care, thanks to the chefs behind each counter.
Seafood was our first point of call, namely the tiger prawns, South Australian oysters, Blue Swimmer crab and Cloudy Bay clams. Coupled with the tuna and crab hand roll made in front of us by a sushi chef and with a Leffe Blonde beer, we started off the right way.
Next up was mains. I decided on two curries; the pork belly with a tamarind and date preserve along with a classic lamb with mint yoghurt. The cheese and garlic naan made in front of us by the chef gave the plate the freshness kick it needed. As my companion was enjoying the roast lamb we shared a bottle of the 2011 Rocky Gully shiraz from Frankland River, WA. It’s light to medium body complimented both our meals all too well.
We managed to find some room for dessert, the chocolate fondue fountain taking our eyes along with crème caramels and a little cheese board to finish off.
With little room at breakfast for anything substantial we popped back up to the Club Lounge. Armed with an escargot, a pot of tea and one last glance of the city, it was back to reality. But for one night we had beaten the winter blues.
The Langham, Melbourne located at 1 Southgate Ave, Southbank, Melbourne
For bookings call: +61 3 8696 8888 or visit www.melbourne.langhamhotels.com.au