It’s taken six years to finish the reimagination of The Langley, once the former country estate belonging to the third Duke of Marlborough, and the long-awaited outcome is justifiably impressive.
Set in the bucolic Langley Park in Buckinghamshire – originally landscaped by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown – the Palladian mansion and grounds have a rich and varied history. The first house on the site dates back to 1557, with Charles Spencer, the third Duke of Marlborough, buying the estate in 1738. Now a Luxury Collection Hotel, Marriott’s plush top tier group of properties, the former dilapidated Grade II-listed private home has been transformed into a majestic bolthole, with many of the original features restored.
The elevated entrance sets the scene: the honey-hued Bath Stone exterior has been revived and you enter – fairy-tale-like – up one of a pair o sweeping staircases to the main doors. With the multi-million pound renovation spearheaded by the Dennis Irvine Studio, much has been done to recapture the elegance of the building’s heyday with many architectural features showcased in their glory again.
In the lobby, for instance, the original 18th-century mosaic floor has been uncovered, and is set off against rich artwork and a statement chandelier by Dernier & Hamlyn. Four Doric columns and a marble fireplace give a sense of grandeur, while a pair of intricately-detailed 19th Century cast bronze Venetian doors – brought to the house by Sir Robert Grenville Harvey in 1903 from Florence – add a pretty aesthetic. Just beyond you can spot the light-filled staircase hall, where a beautiful curvy staircase leads upwards, capped with an oval glazed dome.
Public rooms – such as the Drawing Room (just the place for afternoon tea or reading the papers) – are cosy, with rich artwork, period fireplaces, dove grey velvet furniture and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the grounds. The small, adjacent Churchill Bar is clubhouse in feel, with slate-grey painted walls, a cigar humidor, red leather seating and Regency-era bookcases, specially refurbished and lined with ornamental books, typical to the period.
The 41 bedrooms are found in the main building as well as in a charming 18th Century Brew House – you enter this via a Japanese ornamental garden. Built around a central courtyard, the Brew House bedrooms have more of a rustic feel – to reflect the heritage of the building (it started life as a stables). There are textured wall coverings by Phillip Jeffries, blown glass dimpled pendants by Holloways of Ludlow, chestnut leathers, and limed oak and antique metals – all coming together to make for a countryside-chic feel.
Meanwhile, the 20 bedrooms in the main house are pared-back in style and quietly opulent. On the first floor, rooms are layered with satin or fur throws on the beds, velvet headboards and opulent drapes. Marble bathrooms, thick carpets and a colour palette of eau de nil and rose pink give a sense of luxury. For a touch more character, opt for one of the bedrooms found on the second floor. Set within the eaves of the building, many of these have quirky original features such as large circular windows offering views of the surrounding estate including Langley Lake.
When it comes to downtime, make sure you borrow one of the Aigle welly boots on offer and have a romp around the country park, which boasts Temple Gardens and an arboretum. Wild swimming enthusiasts will enjoy a dip in the outdoor pool set behind the hotel’s Winter Garden. For lunches, head to the drawing room or bar for a range of crowd-pleasing dishes. On a summer’s day, the bar’s wraparound terrace is almost Mediterranean in feel. Come evening-time, destination restaurant Cedar offers a meu based around seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients with many dishes designed to share.
Chef Marco Ardemagni is influenced as much by his Italian heritage as he is by Japanese cuisine and his dishes can be surprisingly inventive. Standouts included a Sea Trout, Pickled Damsons and Sea Purslane starter, which was light and tasty, while the Sussex Wagyu short ribs with wasabi sauce and spring greens offered a melt-in-the-mouth moment. The menu also offered a refreshingly large amount of imaginative vegetarian dishes – such as the Goat’s Curd and Nettle Pinched Agnolotti with Sweet Pea and Black Truffle.
The Langley’s highlight, however, has to be the 1,600 sqm wellness spa found underneath the building. Beautifully sleek, this is a glimmering, low-lit temple to wellness – featuring a 16-metre marble-lined indoor swimming pool, hammam experiences, juniper-wood sauna with pink Himalayan salt walls and an amethyst steam room. A Spa Lounge has an Art Deco feel, and serves healthy plates and cold-pressed juices, while the dedicated manicure and pedicure studio and hair salon offer the finishing touches. Collaborations with leading wellness names are evidently key here, with treatments by Sisley, La Sultane de Saba and Margaret Dabbs, James Read tanning and men’s facials by Gentlemen’s Tonic. Matt Roberts is also overseeing the state-of-the-art gym.
The treatment menu is bursting with up-to-the-minute, innovate therapies – including two-hour spa journeys, pregnancy therapies and some fantastic hammam rituals. For something special, opt for The Langley Signature Massage, which gives a nod to the former Duke and Duchess of Marlborough by using ‘royal’ ingredients of 23-carat gold, caviar, Champagne and pearl, blended with precious oils and includes a foot ritual, stress-relieving massage and gold facial.
The sister hotel of The Wellesley in Knightsbridge, The Langley has transported a similar sense of glamour to the English countryside. The Duke would approve.
Rates at The Langley start from £425 per night, on a B&B basis. For more information or to book, please visit TheLangley.com.