Get Out of Town!
"Hiding Out" at the Langham Huntington Hotel
May, 2009 - Issue #55
Luxe accommodations are a given at the Langham.
Luxe accommodations are a given at the Langham.
Sometimes you just need to hide out. Find a place where you can hole up for a few days and not change any diapers, pick squished bananas out of a high chair, or utter the phrases, "Stop hitting your sister," and "I don't know where you left your shoes."

And what better place to hide from the responsibilities of parenthood (or anything else, for that matter) than a world-class hotel that is itself hiding out?

The Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa is a haven of luxury and solitude tucked away in a residential neighborhood from the hustle and bustle of nearby downtown Pasadena. Originally built in 1907, it was purchased by railroad tycoon and art collector Henry Huntington, who made it a destination for wealthy travelers and celebrities in the early 20th century.

Today, the Langham bears the distinctive AAA Five Diamond Award, and is an elegant Southern California landmark imbued with a rich, distinctive history. It sounded like the perfect place to make our escape.

We arrived there to find ourselves booked in a comfortable, well-appointed seventh floor room. Having settled in, we opened the doors to the terrace and took in the views of the scenic Horseshoe Garden at the rear of the hotel and the palm-tree punctuated skyline of the San Gabriel Valley to the south.

We languished in the late afternoon sun before wandering upstairs to The Club Lounge. Guests on the hotel's seventh and eighth floors enjoy access to this exclusive, top floor hide-away. With views of the surrounding San Gabriel Mountains, and stocked with five food and beverage presentations from morning until evening, the Lounge beckons for sitting, sipping and sampling.

After all the appetizers, we somehow saved room for dinner, which was served downstairs in The Terrance Restaurant - a more casual alternative to the Langham's stately Michelin-rated Dining Room. Our window table overlooked the pool and we enjoyed a leisurely meal of New York Prime Steak (me) and Chorizo Crusted Salmon (April), all presented with the same impeccable service we found wherever we went in the hotel.

With 23 acres of grounds, the Langham is an inviting setting for an evening walk. Lingering on the famed Picture Bridge, with hand-painted scenes of California's natural beauty gracing the overhead beams, we enjoyed the view of The Japanese Garden on one side and the pool on the other.

When it was built in 1926, the hotel's pool was California's first Olympic size swimming pool. It extended under the Picture Bridge, making the bridge an irresistible diving board for some guests. No, in case you're wondering, I didn't take the leap. The pool was shortened during a previous renovation.

The next morning we decided to explore the neighborhood that sprung up around the hotel and now serves to camouflage it from the outside world. Strolling out the main driveway, we crossed Oak Knoll and made our way along Wentworth Avenue. Unlike other posh neighborhoods, this one is quite inviting, with wide sidewalks and few hedges or gates. You can actually see the homes and appreciate the varied architecture -everything from Craftsman, to Spanish, to Asian.

Sufficiently relaxed after a long morning walk and a light lunch of finger sandwiches and fresh veggies in The Club Lounge, we ventured out of our cocoon of solitude to Old Pasadena.

An afternoon of shopping led to an early movie at the Paseo Colorado shopping center, followed by dinner at the nearby P.F. Chang's. Having had enough of the outside world, and knowing that dessert was being served in The Club Lounge, we hurried back to the Langham to conclude our evening with a sampling of their sweet treats.

After such extravagant indulgences, we found it necessary to pay our penance in the Fitness Center the following morning. Located within The Langham's decadent spa, it offers a full complement of machines for strength training or cardiovascular workouts, as well as a wide variety of classes.

That burst of activity recharged us and gave us the energy we needed to return home. With a renewed sense of relaxation, we gave up our hideout and resumed our responsibilities.

The Langham and all its comforts had worked their magic.

Eric Harnish lives in Newhall.

Escape to Pasadena
The Langham Huntington Hotel & Spa
1401 South Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena
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