Back in the early 1990′s, when I was a meeting planner, I worked with the Ritz Carlton hotel chain on several large meetings. Although I worked almost exclusively with the Ritz Carlton Buckhead (Atlanta), I became familiar with the other hotels within the Ritz Carlton family, and made an effort to visit each hotel when I traveled. One of the hotels that I always wanted to stay at, but never had the opportunity, was the Huntington in Pasadena, CA. Last week I had my chance. Although no longer part of the Ritz Carlton brand (the hotel was purchased by European based Langham Hotel International in 2007), the hotel is as opulent as ever.
The Huntington, set against the backdrop of the San Gabriel mountains, lies outside the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, in the well manicured city of Pasadena. Extravagent houses, with large green lawns (large is a rarity in Los Angeles) line the roadway to the hotel. Upon arrival, we were greeted by an attentive, yet unobtrusive valet staff. Since Doll Face and I were there for a quick girls weekend, we splurged on the valet parking option.
Before we even made it in the front door, our senses were greeted by the alluring scent of fresh lilies. Large crystal vases of the luxurious flower center-pieced the palatial lobby. Walking to the front desk, we were greeted by name (getting our name from the valet-nice touch!). A quick check-in, and we were off to our room.
Our room was lovely. Lily white linen duvets, antique furniture, and blue and pink accessories accented the room. Unlike most older hotels, the room was spacious and easy to move around, with a desk, as well as chair and ottoman for relaxing. A large walk-in closet had room for suitcases, and held two luxurious bathrobes for use in the room.
The toiletries in the Italian marble bathroom were pink!
Our room had a gorgeous view of the landscaped front lawn and gardens. We noticed that one of the duvets had a hole in it-not enough to warrant a phone call to housekeeping, but certainly not expected from a five-star resort. (There was also an odd photograph in the room, of a woman with black around her eyes. We do not know who she was, or why she was there-it was a little creepy.)
The bathroom was clean and spacious. A nice touch in the bathroom was the wicker basket in the corner, for dirty towels.
After playfully arguing over who would steal the toiletries, we debated whether to attend the Langham’s world famous afternoon tea or retire to the lounge. A quick refresh, and we set off to the The Lobby Lounge for cocktails and a light lunch.
We did not get a chance to eat in The Dining Room, now called The Royce, as it is currently undergoing an extensive renovation. It will re-open in November, and will be the only hotel-run restaurant in Los Angeles County to receive a Michelin Star rating. The Bar is also being renovated, but we had a nice late afternoon lunch of Mache Beet Salad and Kobe Beef Sliders in the Lobby Lounge. Our cocktails and lunch were expensive (think $15.00-18.00 per cocktail) but delicious.
While these prices may be the norm for such an exclusive hotel, we wondered how many people would stomach such prices in this economy. Looking around the almost-empty room (we were the only people in the lounge for the first 45 minutes) we doubted that most people, even the most wealthy, would be able to. Although we would have loved to have dinner at the hotel, it was too rich for our wallets, so we opted to go out for cheap Mexican in Old Pasadena. By the number of people waiting for car service in the lobby, I am guessing other guests felt the same.
The hotel, built in 1907 by railroad tycoon, Henry Huntington, still has the luxurious feel of long ago, without being stuffy or outdated.
Long hallways, adorned with antique furniture and paintings, led to grand ballrooms and plush dining areas. Beautifully painted ceilings, colorful carpets, and floor-to-ceiling windows complemented the decor.
The Langham Huntington is known for its luscious landscaped gardens, and did not disappoint. As we strolled though the Japanese garden, I felt the stress of our long drive roll off my shoulders. We were somewhat surprised that the ponds did not have koi in them, but the tranquil sound of the water was soothing.
We also wandered the gardens of the front lawn, and I noticed that the design of the hotel is similar to the Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada. I have been unable to find evidence that the same architect built both hotels, but their design is so similar (even the placement of the lobby and hallways) that I really do wonder. (If anyone knows for certain-please let me know!)
A beautifully painted bridge traversed the swimming area. We were a little bit disappointed in the pool-it seemed somewhat ordinary for such a luxurious hotel, but looked clean and refreshing.
Although we did not have a chance to try out the spa, we spoke to the concierge, and discovered that The Huntington Spa was voted one of the top ten spas in America by Travel-Leisure magazine What a wonderful excuse to come back to the hotel!
Overall, service at the hotel was outstanding. Our service, while in the Lobby Lounge, was impeccable. The front desk concierge was courteous and helpful in making dinner reservations on the town, and a hotel shuttle (although fifteen minutes late) whisked us to our destination. Our two biggest complaints were that the room did not have a hair dryer (a quick call to guest services rectified the situation.), and that the hotel shuttle service into Old Town Pasadena ended very early (8:45 p.m. on a Friday night), which meant a taxi ride back to the hotel.
Our stay at the Langham Huntington was wonderful, and I look forward to the finished restaurant renovations, as I plan to dine in The Royce on my next visit. With some minor adjustments to service, The Langham Huntington will remain a favorite luxurious destination in the Los Angeles/Pasadena area.
(Disclosure: I received no product or monetary compensation for this review. This was a personal self-funded trip. My opinions are 100% my own.)