While Langham is a reputable/higher-end hotel chain, I was concerned over the direction of the property once Orient Express sold the property. Orient Express owns and operates iconic properties throughout the world, with my favorites being the Copacabana Palace in Rio and the Hanging Gardens in Bali. I just imagined what happened to Lilianfels in the Blue Mountains and thought: "déjà vu - all over again."
Rest assured ... all is the same and from my perspective - "still coming up roses", if not better (I use the word pink in the title since Langham seems to like pink - pink receipts, pink pens, pink ties, etc). Langham appears willing to invest in the property and a well-needed renovation will start in the next several months (check before booking). Apart from the GM, I see the same staff around the hotel - which I consider first-rate. These people I have known over several years and all spoke highly of the new GM (she is from the Langham in Hong Kong) and the Langham Group in general. I spoke briefly to the the GM (Sonia Lefevre) after breakfast last week and concur with the staff's assessment of her - she appears to be an excellent GM and only the third GM in the hotel's history (and I have known the other two).
Bottom line: If you liked the hotel as the Observatory, you will like it more now. And if you didn't like it as the Observatory, you probably will still not like it now. All bets are off, however, once the renovation begins.
Now for the Good, the Bad and the Ugly:
The Good: The hotel offers exceptional (I used the term "exemplary" in today's letter to the GM) personalized service in a boutique hotel setting. The restaurant Galileo (Langham - please do not change the name) remains excellent and the afternoon tea service perfect - even by the standards of the Lanesborough/Dorchester/Ritz in London. The atmosphere of the bar/restaurant is of a quiet traditional English Club on Pall Mall, sans the stuffiness. I have had breakfast/lunch/tea occasionally dressed in shorts. The concierge services are also excellent, with the same chef concierge since the hotel's opening. The downstairs spa is relaxing and I have used the lounge chairs around the pool for a siesta more than once when my flight arrives early morning from America. The standard rooms are larger than the Four Seasons and the bathrooms similarly spacious. I think I am only one of two people to have ever used the hotel's one bicycle - so contact the hotel in advance if you want to use it since the tires often need inflating. If you like tennis, the hotel has a court located across the street.
The Bad (only a relative bad, though): The hotel/rooms do not have a view of the Opera House or the Sydney Harbor Bridge, though neither do most rooms at the Four Seasons or the Shangri La. It will take 10-15 minutes to walk to the ferries at Circular Quay and 5-10 minutes to walk to the train. As a fan of Four Seasons properties in general, it pains me to admit that the Sydney Four Seasons generally lacks the personalized service of the Langham and feels more like a Hilton or a Hyatt (but with better room amenities), yet the FS's main selling point is that the it is located immediately adjacent to Circular Quay. If you don't want to eat at the Langham, there is nothing of any quality within a short walk of the hotel.
The Ugly: I use this term also in a relative sense - the immediate neighborhood to the left when exiting the hotel is sup-optimal. It appears low-end residential but I never felt any safety concerns with my late night walks. That said ... all property in central Sydney is worth a fortune. I have stayed at the FS a number of times and the Langham's service and boutique-nature trumps the FS's location and possible views.
Final thought: If you are looking for an absolute luxury stay in the perfect location, recently renovated and don't care anything about money, stay at the Park Hyatt. For my money after 25 visits to Oz, the Langham offers the best combination of luxury/value trade-off, with an emphasis on personalized service. While the name has changed to "The Langham Sydney", it will always be known to me as the "Observatory."
Get a room with water view, though this may cost extra.
See more room tips
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.