The Langham opened in 1865 as the largest of London’s grand hotels, offering – gasp – the combination of hot and cold running water, and England’s first hydraulic lift. After it was bombed in World War II, the building was used as office space by the BBC, until the early 1990s when Hilton International took it over and refurbished it (the BBC’s radio HQ, Broadcasting House, is still over the road). However, this is not just another conveyor-belt chain hotel (now that Hilton has long gone and another £80 million refit was completed in 2009). The stone facade mimics a Florentine palace (think gargoyles, cupolas and columns), while the public rooms reflect the power and majesty of the British Empire at its height (huge Murano chandeliers, elegant wallpaper recreated from the original design, and an eminence-inspiring tea salon). Its 380 five-star guestrooms are less opulent but nonetheless tastefully furnished with pale French provincial furniture and striped or floral fabrics. David Collins – the man all London establishments call when in need of a fix – turned his hand to the style-and- substance Landau restaurant and the Artesian Bar, where Art Deco meets Orientalism meets masterful mixology meets the masters and mistresses of the media universe.