Culture / Travel

A Hotel From the Gilded Age That’s Still a Hollywood Draw Today

The Timeless Elegance of a California Retreat

BY // 01.27.18

Like any good Gilded Age tale, the story of The Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, California, begins with a titan of industry. In 1907, Pasadena was a bastion of high society — a beautiful town a few miles east of L.A., inhabited by old- and new-moneyed types, many of whom built sprawling ranches and estates.

It was here that General Marshall C. Wentworth, an East Coast war hero turned hotelier, bought a sizable property, where he built his dream hotel. The land was next door to the ranch of railroad and real estate magnate Henry Edwards Huntington. (Today, the 120-acre Huntington mansion, botanical garden, and art collection are open to the public.)

Barely six months after it opened, Wentworth’s dream project — then called the Wentworth Hotel — went bankrupt; its doors abruptly shut. The railroad and real estate baron next door bought the property and, in 1911, renamed the hotel, naturally, after himself. The new Huntington Hotel was redesigned, with architect Myron Hunt reimagining its interiors and exteriors, and landscape architect William Hertrich cultivating a Japanese garden and the now iconic Horseshoe Garden, a popular site for croquet and badminton.

Wander the hotel, and you’ll spot historic photographs of chic ladies and gents, including Jean Harlow, racquets and croquet mallets in hand.

The Langham Huntington Hotel, Pasadena

Since its acquisition by Huntington in 1914, the hotel has been a retreat for society and Tinseltown royalty. The property’s cottages, dotted throughout the grounds, still host celebrities escaping tabloid drama and high-profile husbands taking up discrete residence in a most luxurious doghouse.

To the wealthy that live in the surrounding South Pasadena and San Marino neighborhoods, the hotel is simply called The Huntington. In 2008, British hospitality group, Langham, purchased the hotel and invested millions in restoring its grandeur. Today, The Langham Huntington Hotel is as famous for its commanding exterior as it was when Huntington redesigned it more than 100 years ago.

FERN FREEMAN

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The Horseshoe Garden remains popular as a place for leisure. Modern touches were added and refurbished by Langham in 2010: The Royce Wood-Fired Steakhouse was updated, and the Tap Room bar was given a slight makeover, its moody, wood-paneled vibe maintained. The Chuan Spa debuted with a focus on traditional Chinese medicine.

But of course, the draw here is simple: Checking in for a long weekend is like moving into your own sprawling country house. Rooms from $324.

The Langham Huntington Hotel, 1401 S. Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena, California, langhamhotels.com.

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