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Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Hayman's Gin Palace at The Langham, Oxford Circus



London’s better hotels such as Claridge’s, The Savoy and the Connaught often boast at least two great bars, each with separate identities. The similarly luxurious Langham has a bar to be proud of,  Artesian - a divine amethyst-tone chinoiserie shrine to its late creator David Collins. Until the end of November 2013, it also has a second bar -  Hayman's ‘gin palace’ in its Palm Court. It is billed as 'an enchanting evening venue' open from Thursday to Saturday inclusive. Quite how Count Basie-era live jazz and a grandiose Art Deco room, lit sex shop red, ‘evokes the glamour of the mid-1800’s’ is anybody’s guess. Humdrum furnishings, odd lamp groupings, and two monumental funeral black plinths topped by red floral displays suggest that the palm-free Palm Court’s designers are stuck in another century -  the mid 20th  - and not in a way I need to see revived. Pretty as they look, prepped at a penumbral bar devoid of interest, Alex Kratena's (£16) cocktails are similarly disappointing: yuza and cedarwood using Hayman’s 1850, suggests a new addition to the Berocca range. 'Kombucha and sloe' comes on like one of those strident fruit flavoured ciders from Sweden that are doing the student festival rounds. Tasting dishes (£7) are suggested for each cocktail. Our gin and tonic gravadlax with nashi pear is duly tasted... and left unfinished. Accompanying cocktail? I've switched to champagne by now. My date tweets a picture of some sort of cinnamon and apple crumble arrangement in what looks like a new jar from Bonne Maman. We move on to Edition London, a hotel possessed of three bars I'd much rather be in. The Palm Court is a potentially truly great space. Not tonight. 
The Langham London, 1c Portland Place W1B 1JA 7636 1000 



See a version of this and simailar reviews at www.squaremeal.co.uk