At dusk we drove along Colorado Boulevard. Illuminated with the psychedelic California sunshine the street felt alive. Magenta pink and orange hues dotted with wisps of white; clouds resembling Pollack’s brushwork brought to life. A mackerel-clouded sky.
We pulled up to The Langham Huntington Hotel and I have the feeling I’m being transported to a scene in a Hollywood blockbuster. The sprawling property had a huge role in the city of Pasadena’s history and its lavish ballrooms and sparkling pool were captured in movies such as “Seabiscuit” and “Saving Mr. Banks.” The hotel, much like the city itself, has inspired several creative minds: Architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Craftsman-style innovators Greene & Greene, location scouts (a mansion in a quiet Pasadena neighborhood was the prime setting for a Beyoncé music video), filmmakers and artists all discovered Pasadena’s muse-like allure. It is a place where architecture, art, history, nature and pop culture converge.
The Langham Huntington is a not-so-secret hideaway. As you wind through the neighborhood leading into the property, you take in the landscaped estates that line the streets. Glorious oaks and towering palms, Birds of Paradise and fragrant blooming roses enchant you.
The Langham’s rear expansive lawn – now used for outdoor gatherings and garden parties – was once the hotel’s original entrance. I think back to when The Langham was first unveiled. In the early 1900s horse-drawn carriages and Ford-constructed vehicles occupied the space. Now, here before us is an inviting, perfectly manicured green lawn. In the evenings, guests gathered outside for fireside s’mores. A cozy pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs were set for us to toast our marshmallows in comfort. While a couple of “s’more concierges” assisted other guests from a table set with all the essential ingredients – a variety of chocolate bars and candies, marshmallows and graham crackers.
In a world that craves instant gratification, The Langham Huntington reminded us that it’s time to slow down and savor life.
Savoring is easy at this hotel. The robust afternoon tea service has remained a neighborhood favorite. The experience, which started with large glass vases filled with tea varietals, felt almost ceremonial. Displayed on a dark wooden table, the teas were ornately presented for guests to inhale each blends’ essence before deciding on the perfect one.
The Afternoon Tea by Wedgewood was quite the photogenic display. An über-Instagramable silver tray adorned with delicate crustless sandwiches, chocolate pastries and fresh fruit tarts was accompanied by a basket of fluffy warm scones served with luscious Devonshire cream and sweet fruit preserves.
As a new mom, she, of course, couldn’t leave her newborn behind. So we brought him along. The baby slept sweetly as we sipped our teas.
One Friday afternoon, my best friend and I met for an impromptu tea service. The cozy room was pleasantly filled but not full. This was perfect since this sumptuous afternoon snack was, in fact, my dear friend’s first official outing after giving birth to her son. As a new mom, she, of course, couldn’t leave her newborn behind. So we brought him along. The baby slept sweetly as we sipped our teas. The “tea master” attended to us and poured each perfectly steeped cup for us. We chatted and reminisced without even noticing the time. As we finished our last sips, her little boy emerged from his slumber – just in time to pose for a quick picture! My friend looked at her cuddly bundle and said with a relieved sigh, “Thanks, this is exactly what I needed.” It felt like a true made-for-Hollywood moment.