Think of a wooden covered bridge and the global specialist will bring Lucerne to mind. The Swiss city’s covered bridge, all 220-feet long, was finished in the year 1333. It burned, tragically, in a fire on August 18th, 1993, but, by the sheer determination of the good Lucerne burgers, it reopened April 14th, 1994. It is one of THE tourist attractions of Lucerne. The other is, of course, shopping for watches, here in the home town of Bucherer and De Grisogono. Soon, too, people will come for the re-done Burgenstock. Meanwhile they have plenty of other luxury hotels….. now, gal, get on with the story. Switch to fabulous Pasadena California. Henry Huntington gave his name to its focal point, now The Langham Huntington, and he put in a covered bridge.
Yes, it is based on the Lucerne original, and it too had marvellous paintings on the inside of its tiled roof, but they have temporarily been taken down for maintenance. It seems that Huntington, a man of great ingenuity, liked bridges. In the 23-acre grounds there is a bright scarlet bridge in the Japanese Garden, a favourite photographic venue for some of the 70-odd weddings that are held here each year. Look down from one side of the covered bridge and you see the pool, and some of the 381 bedrooms. There are guests who definitely want a pool view.
Others come here for the gardens, which are magnificent. Right now the magnolias are in full bloom, their pink hues a reminder that Langham is the hotel of pale rose colouring. The charming guest relations woman wears a pale rose tweed suit, her male colleague has a matching tie. The pen in your room is pink, to match the pink-edged stationery that is elegantly wrapped in – white – satin ribbon. Spare toothbrushes and other bathroom necessities are in pink boxes (you can tell Langham is an Asian-based company because it is so generous giving you all the little things you need when travelling – American and European hotels are really mean when it comes to toothbrushes and, sometimes, even cotton wool and q-tips and as for toothpaste, forget it).
The local Pasadena people, who are discerning as well as way above the national norm when it comes to affluence, use this hotel as their own. It is their club. They use its big gym, open and busy from 0500 every morning. There are classes in Anusura and other yogas, and Chi Gong and Tai Chi, and kick-boxing. They come for the food, good wholesome and healthy fare, like a caprese bruschetta with burrata and tiny heirloom tomatoes. Sunday night brings’em in for prime rib, the biggest and best you can get, and if you order fries they come in a metal wire container with handle.
Locals, and people staying overnight, are also increasingly coming to stock up on gifts at the Flavours of Langham boutique. It is lovely. As well as Langham souvenirs, to keep you in the pink, so to speak, there is masses of Lalique. Best-sellers are, surprisingly, coffee table books. Are these to replace coffee tables, to put on them or actually to read? Perhaps in these days of tablets and smart phones, any books become even more appreciated. In fact they offer hotel guests so many newspapers to read, in your room, in the restaurant and in the eighth floor club lounge, you do not even need a book.
The lounge, where the gracious Patricia was in charge when it opened at 0630, is highly recommended – and not only because it is high up, with lovely views over the Pasadena surroundings. It has lots of style. I can understand why this luxury hotel attracts the stressed of Burbank and Hollywood to come and unwind, and people coming for anniversaries and other celebrations. Look out of your window, in my case room 851, and you have a view that makes you feel better immediately.