This is Part 2 of our review of The Langley, the brand new uber-luxe UK country house hotel which has just opened in Buckinghamshire.
It is part of Marriott’s The Luxury Collection and can currently be booked for the exceptionally low rate of 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
Part 1 of our The Langley review can be found here. It focused on the public areas and the rooms.
The spa complex is exceptional. Apart from the fact that it is entirely underground, so there is no natural light, you may well have never seen better. The gym, often an afterthought, has been designed by Matt Roberts and features an amazing array of equipment, some of which I had never seen before.
The interior designers really went to town on the pool:
There is also a multi-functional jacuzzi complex with a number of different areas (air beds, massage jets etc). These have proper on/off buttons, so you can stop and start the jets whenever you want – something you rarely see. There is a Himalayan Salt Sauna, a steam room, some ‘sensory’ showers and all the usual bells and whistles you’d expect from a luxury hotel spa.
For many people, the spa alone will be a good enough reason to visit.
There is also an outdoor pool. This is finished but not yet open – I was told that it is still awaiting certain approvals.
Because there is nowhere else to mention it, I will drop in at this point that there is a very impressive function room, see below, which would work well for a small wedding:
The restaurant is where it all fell apart, unfortunately.
The main long-term problem is that it is very small. I counted 15 tables but some separation of larger ones may add another one or two – although if a lot of rooms had a child as a third guest the total usable count may drop. This is simply not good enough for a 40 room hotel, even if they do not accept outside bookings (not sure if they do or not). There are some outside tables but this isn’t any use most of the year.
I was told in a pre-arrival email to book a table on arrival ‘as it gets busy’. I decided to pre-book to be sure, which turned out to be a good move. The best they could offer another guest who was asking when we arrived was 10pm.
There are no other eating options in the hotel except for room service or bar / lounge snacks. With no other walkable options, the current situation isn’t acceptable. They will need to either turn the lounge or bar into an evening restaurant or build a more casual eaterie in the Brewhouse – although this may mean cutting the room count even further.
Breakfast was a total, utter disaster. It can’t be sugar-coated. When we arrived at 10am there were literally no staff in the room, and none appeared for over five minutes. The very small buffet was depleted and not refilled. Even getting coffee was difficult, and when it arrived it was in a very tiny cup. When you wanted more, the staff would take away our existing cups and not return for a few minutes.
The two photos below are 80% of the entire buffet, a bargain at £28 per person:
We did – after a l-o-n-g time – order and receive some a la carte items. The quality, admittedly, was high but the wait was unacceptable. There was a downward spiral in place because so many people were complaining that the staff didn’t have time to serve.
Time was also wasted on other things – there were no cereal spoons on our table, for example and when we requested them they were brought on a presentation tray. All very nice, but not when the empty dirty table next to ours had still not been cleared over an hour later. The room was also weirdly dark because the lights were turned off.
I’m sure this will be fixed over the coming weeks. What won’t be fixed is that, when no-one can sit outside, they have a 0% chance of seating all of the guests when full. By encouraging a la carte, people will stay longer than average too.
Secret tip – the buffet is pitiful value for £28, especially as you are unlikely to find much food left on it if my experience is anything to go by. Platinum and Titanium members of Bonvoy, like me, get the buffet for free if they choose breakfast as their ‘welcome amenity’ but need to pay for a la carte items (£15 for Eggs Royale for example, plus service charge). Go into the park and follow the signs to the Visitor Centre. This is actually a really, really nice independent cafe with full breakfasts at £6.50.
Is The Langley good for children?
Not really. They are not banned – and I was there with my 8 and 11 year olds – but life isn’t easy. There is no kids club. The pool hours are VERY restricted – 9am to 10.30am and 3.30pm to 5pm. There is a kids menu in the restaurant, albeit at prices which are more than your average restaurant charges for adult meals.
However, Langley Park itself IS good for children. There is a playground near the visitor centre and the lake behind the hotel is full of ducks. The outdoor pool at the hotel will presumably not have restrictions on child hours, when it finally opens. If you are planning to be out of the hotel during the day, you will manage.
Four Seasons Hampshire was like this when it launched. People kept bringing their kids regardless, and eventually it surrendered. A large family pool was built and the formal restaurant demolished and replaced with something more laid back. The Langley may go this way in time.
The bottom line is that there are not many young couples queuing up to pay £400 per night (plus spa, dinner etc) for a UK weekend away. The people with that sort of money are older and they usually come with children attached, or they are heading into Europe for a short break.
The Langley is a very, very impressive hotel in terms of hard product. I can honestly say that, in terms of quality, there is very little in the UK to top it. It is on a par with Four Seasons Hampshire in the country house hotel stakes. Langley Park also has more of offer than the grounds of the FS, although it can’t match FS for activities such as tennis (coming soon to The Langley apparently), clay pigeon shooting, fishing etc.
I was also impressed by the demeanor and the sheer number of staff, some of whom have, I believe, moved across from the sister hotel – The Wellesley – in Knightsbridge. It only went wrong over breakfast, where only one female member of staff gave any impression of realising she was in a disaster zone and was actively apologising and trying to help where possible. The others melted into the air. As my wife pointed out, there were the same number of people working as doormen (three) as were working in the restaurant serving breakfast for 40 rooms.
I strongly recommend you give The Langley a try. It won’t be 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for long, and I would expect the food issues to be sorted out soon – just make sure you book in advance for dinner. The hard product in the rooms and spa is excellent and we really enjoyed spending time in the park. If you are thinking of paying cash, you may want to hold back for a couple of months until the outdoor pool opens and the breakfast issues are resolved.
You can find out more about the hotel on The Langley website here.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (September 2022)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:
- American Express Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Rewards Credit Card (10,000 bonus Amex points)
and for small business owners:
- American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus Amex points)
- American Express Business Platinum (40,000 bonus Amex points)
The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)