Every evening at 7.05pm a special tram bell rings in Melbourne. It is no longer attached to a mode of transport, nor does have any relation to the Victorian capital’s peak hour traffic. Instead this bell is taking part in a worldwide tradition, marking the Change of Day in Langham Hotels.
While five past seven may seem an odd time to choose, every Langham Hotel around the world has their own special 1865 ritual, which marks the year the first Langham Hotel opened in London, and is converted to 7.05pm on the clock.
In Melbourne beneath a large and very sparkly chandelier an old tram bell is rung three times at 1865, candles are lit, and guests are offered a signature Peach Melba cocktail of Poire William Smirnoff Citron, white peach puree and apple juice, named after the namesake of the hotel’s Melba restaurant, Dame Nellie Melba.
I’m told the Change of Day marks the transition from day to night, and from work to relaxation mode, but I’ll admit during my stay I was feeling pretty relaxed well before that bell tolled.
Don’t get me wrong, I did manage to do some work during the day in my room, turning my Melbourne trip into a mix of business and pleasure. I popped my chair onto the other side of the desk in my room so I could look out the window as I worked, and managed to achieve quite a bit despite the slightly distracting Melbourne city views.
But with the hotel such an easy walk across a bridge to the city and its laneways, and with the Langham Melbourne Club Lounge calling to me from a few floors above I didn’t really stand a chance of putting in a full working day.
Why You Need the Langham Club Lounge Treatment
If you’re planning a stay at The Langham in Melbourne, here’s a hot tip that will make that stay all the better – treat yourself to the Club Lounge treatment.
Everyone who books a River View or Terrace room automatically receives the Club Lounge perks but what a lot of people don’t realise is that you can add it onto any room for $65pp on weeknights and $80pp on weekends.
That includes a butler service of complimentary pressing of three garments, a shoe polishing service, as well as complimentary broadband and WiFi internet both in the rooms and around the hotel.
Then there’s the Club Lounge itself.
Found on the 24th floor the lounge has city views, and offers breakfast, afternoon tea, all day tea, coffee and pastries and pre-dinner drinks and hors d’oeuvres.
As I was staying for two nights, I had two chances at breakfast and having been told there was also a full buffet breakfast in the Melba restaurant for an additional $15 I originally thought I’d do the Club Lounge one morning and Melba the next.
But when I discovered the Club Lounge breakfast had hot and cold dishes from bircher muesli and fresh fruit to scrambled eggs in truffle oil and maple syrup bacon I decided that was more than enough for this girl.
Afternoon tea offered a range of sandwiches, adorable cakes, and fresh warm scones with jam and cream between 3 and 5pm, and then from 5.30 to 8pm it was time for those drinks and canapes.
As I tried one of their evening cocktails followed by some Chandon bubbles, with delicious hot and cold nibbles from seared tuna to tempting pieces of pork belly I realised it would be very easy to simply skip dinner and head back to my room for a bubble bath and a movie. But with people to see and places to go I dragged myself out of the Club Lounge after just half an hour and headed out into the night.
Fortunately with its riverside location I didn’t have to go far. As you step outside the Langham you’re in the heart of Melbourne’s Arts District with the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Recital Centre and Victoria Arts Centre just a few doors away.
The hotel is in the Southgate complex which has its own shopping centre, and is across the river from the city itself, with easy access to shops, restaurants, bars and of course those famous laneways.
Then when you’ve finished exploring for the day it’s an easy potter home. And what a home to come back to. As soon as those doors open and I start to breathe in that special Langham smell, all feels right with the world.
Exit Through The Langham Melbourne Gift Shop
The Langham’s signature ginger flower scent is so beautiful I’ve been tempted to buy it from the gift shop for my own home, but in the end I decided it’s such a great feeling to keep for those special hotel stays that I’ll resist for now.
The hotel’s scent in a bottle isn’t the only piece of the Langham you can take home with you. In the Flavours of Langham gift shop you can see some of their pillows on display, but after repeated inquiries from guests you can also buy the beds themselves, as well as all of the bedding so you can recreate that special night’s sleep.
There’s even Langham bedding for your pet, as Miss Kitty Fantastico discovered when I took my cat to stay in the Langham Sydney for a night.
Then there are the teddy bears, the Langham doll Audrey in her chic pink suit, special pink editions of Penguin classics, as well as the Langham’s own special edition copy of one of my favourite books, Alice in Wonderland, which was first published in the same year the Langham London opened its doors 150 years ago.
They also have pretty pink cookware including pink Le Creuset to take home, which could bring back some memories of great meals at the hotel.
For me the biggest problem with having lunch at the award winning Melba restaurant was deciding what to have. It took me a few laps of the dining options to whittle it down, and even then my meal was a slightly strange progression from sushi to Peking duck to dim sum to dipping marshmallows and strawberries in the chocolate fountain.
Believe me, it was hard to not also go for the perfectly cooked Wagyu steak, the lamb roast, the roasted duck, the pastas, or, well, pretty much everything in the restaurant.
It’s clear that I’ll simply have to go back. Often. And when I check back in I’ll be sure to add those Club Lounge treats to my stay. That’s a trick I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.
Amanda Woods stayed as a guest of The Langham Melbourne but all thoughts and opinions remain her own.