IF YOU WANT TO SPEND TIME IN LOS ANGELES AWAY FROM THE HUSTLE AND BUSTLE, I SUGGEST YOU HEAD ABOUT 15 KILOMETRES NORTHEAST OF DOWNTOWN TO BEAUTIFUL, HISTORIC PASADENA. AND TO TRULY CAPTURE THE GRACE AND ELEGANCE OF A BYGONE ERA, YOU MUST STAY AT THE LANGHAM HUNTINGTON AT THE BASE OF THE PICTURESQUE SAN GABRIEL MOUNTAINS. QUITE SIMPLY, IT IS STUNNING!
WORDS BY KRIS ABBEY, PUBLISHING EDITOR SPA LIFE MAGAZINE
As I drive north along Highway 110 towards Pasadena, humming The Little Old Lady from Pasadena by the Beach Boys, I’m already starting to feel the pace slow. The streets become wider, the homes bigger, the trees larger and more established.
I drive up the hotel’s perfectly manicured, horseshoe-shaped driveway and am struck by the spectacular beauty of both the property and its setting. I feel as if I’ve entered a bygone era and half expect to see horse-drawn carriages pass by.
The Langham Hotel in Pasadena is unique among LA hotels, which are mostly glitzy and new. Set on 23 lush acres overlooking San Marino, it embraces the legendary traditions of service and luxury of the original Langham grand hotel of 1865. Everything is big – the gardens, the high ceilings, the beds – yet the size is perfectly balanced with a refined elegance.
The earthy warmth and genuine pleasure of good old-fashioned service welcomes you to The Langham. Even in its opulence, I feel completely at home. I’m told this is where a lot of movie stars came for privacy in the 1950s and 60s, and it’s easy to imagine Grace Kelly as one of its guests.
I love my suite. It has a lovely big bathroom, a huge comfortable bed and gorgeous antique furniture. The floor-to-ceiling windows, lined with beautiful drapes for total privacy, allow full enjoyment of the expansive view.
I am on the club level, so I can use the club lounge any time. There is a constant supply of fresh fruit, juices, smoothies and light snacks. And if nothing takes your fancy, the chef will create something special just for you. After 5pm you can help yourself to a constant flow of Moet Champagne and mouth-watering sushi. I’m really falling in love with this place.
If you feel like taking in some sights, a long, leisurely walk – or a short shuttle ride – away is Old Pasadena. This is the city’s famed dining, shopping and entertainment district, with more than 200 buildings dating back to the 1880s and 1890s. Even if you’re not staying in the area, you really should plan a day trip to Old Pasadena. It is here in the beautiful old buildings and hidden alleys that you will find the best restaurants, boutiques and antique shops.
After immersing yourself in the pleasant surroundings of Old Pasadena, there is no more fitting end to the day than a visit to The Huntington Spa at The Langham. It has just undergone a major overhaul and the new 11,000-square-foot Spa features no less than 13 treatment rooms, plus a state-of-the-art fitness centre and wet area to relax in before or after your treatment.
Like many of the Langham properties, they have added the Chuan Body + Soul Spa concept, which incorporates Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) services to provide a comprehensive wellness experience. All Chuan signature treatments are based on the principles of TCM, which include the five elements, breathing rituals and acupressure. In addition to its signature treatments, Chuan Body + Soul offers TCM therapies, including acupuncture, Ho Guan (cupping), moxibustion, ear seeds and other techniques.
I opt to have a facial that incorporates ear seeds, which are little seeds of jade that are attached to pressure points on your outer ear. Known as Auriculotherapy in TCM, this involves stimulation of the auricle of your external ear for treatment of health conditions in other parts of your body. It applies the principles of acupuncture to specific points on your ear and, since no needles are involved, it can be done in a Spa setting, where it is much more relaxing.
After a wonderfully rejuvenating facial, the seeds are applied to pressure points in my ear. I’ve been travelling a lot, so some rebalancing is required. I’m told to leave the seeds in my ear and they will fall off in their own time. They feel a little funny at first, but you soon forget about them and you can barely see them as they are taped in with skin-tone tape. I love a treatment that treats and goes beyond the superficial, although the facial aspect is greatly appreciated and much needed.
I retreat to my room after a lazy wander through the gardens. I haven’t felt this relaxed in a long time. I have a deep, sound sleep and wake up feeling like I could run to the top of the mountains that fill my windows. I’m not sure if it’s the bed, the seeds, the lovely surroundings or the fact that I haven’t had to lift a finger or make a decision the entire time I’ve been here. But I’m not going to analyse why, I’m just going to plan when I’ll be back!