Anyone who’s ever experienced Langdon Hall (myself included) becomes a devoted and die-hard fan. The moment you turn off the main road and begin the meandering drive through the property’s sun-dappled woodlands, the decompression starts.
Birdsong is the background noise as the trees clear and the magnificent century-old Federal-Revival style hall comes into view.
This special charm of Langdon Hall is constant; its allure hasn’t changed over the years, yet on my last visit here I did notice one very big change: the clientele. The more, shall we say, established patrons are now sharing the space with Influencers, Babymooners and cool 20- and 30-somethings with style to spare. A younger demographic has cottoned on to how special this place is and who can blame them?
On my recent visit I was once again wooed by Langdon’s wiles. For starters, there’s the lobby’s signature scent, a heady mix of aromatic woodsmoke, crisp apples and fresh flowers (plus the slightest hint of furniture polish). Trust me, if Jo Malone could bottle this she would.
Escaping a heat wave in Toronto, we arrived at Langdon well before check-in with plans to spend the day at the pool, an activity the Hall encourages on the day of arrival, as well as departure. In fact, I spoke to a few guests at the pool who had checked out that morning but were sticking around to soak up the afternoon sun. I liked that generosity on the Hall’s behalf and that there’s never a rushed feeling to checkout here. We strolled through The Wilk’s Bar before heading down to the pool.
Not this pool.
The pool area is decked out with comfy loungers, plenty of towels, umbrella or pergola seating and little extras like complimentary sunscreen and a help-yourself bar fridge stocked with chilled water. Not that you’ll ever have to help yourself thanks to the incredibly attentive pool staff.
This is Katelynn who, as well as being impossibly well-groomed and never breaking a sweat, ensured that we were never without ice water (really, as soon as we finished a glass she would quietly appear to replenish then seemingly disappear).
I love that you can have lunch on your lounger. The pool menu is small but ticks all the boxes from simple salads to burgers.
As we lounged and lazed, the kitchen staff was hard at work in the Hall’s organic garden. It’s a rare thing to have a hotel with its own kitchen garden, livestock and foraging capabilities in Ontario and another aspect of Langdon’s specialness and commitment to locality.
After being pampered at the pool all day, we headed to our Cloisters Wing room, which was wonderfully cool and spacious. The pampering continued with a welcome amenity that included homemade bread and butter, charcuterie, chocolate and honey.
Our ample-sized bathroom (with separate water closet) made getting ready for dinner, the highlight of any Langdon stay, a breeze. Executive Chef Jason Bangerter oversees the award-winning kitchen and we couldn’t wait to experience his expertise.
Can you tell I can’t wait?
The amuse-bouche of melon and strawberries in tomato water was light, fresh and summery and the strawberries actually tasted like strawberries.
Our next dish wasn’t just theatrics. This is watercress which grows near a waterfall on the property. It was accompanied by ramp aioli presented on a rock from the waterfall. No utensils required, just pick the watercress and dip it in the aioli. It was, hands down, the best watercress ever – intensely green and peppery, it made you feel good and had a true invigorating, almost restorative effect.
Next up, a cheeky pairing of a humble devilled egg generously blanketed with fresh truffle – oh my goodness. I felt like I could eat far too many of these.
How gorgeous is this plating? Asparagus with lemon verbena from the garden and squid ink mayo.
My appetizer of cured salmon with bronze fennel and cucumber. Another edible work of art. I love too how nothing is gratuitous here, everything complements each other so the flavours live up to, if not exceed, the superlative plating.
Evan’s foie gras torchon with navets, honey gelee and chive blossoms.
My dairy-free entrée of wild halibut with baby lettuces, beets and beet foam.
Evan’s beef shortrib with asparagus, suet new potatoes, white turnips and thyme jus.
Dairy-free strawberry chocolate tart.
The most delicious currant sorbet expertly prepared by Executive Sous Chef Philippe de Montbrun. It was summer in a bowl.
Posing with the experts: sommelier extraordinaire Phyllis Flynn and Chef Philippe de Montbrun.
This simple pic encapsulates Langdon’s approach to detail. Order an after-dinner Amaro and it’s presented with a separate glass of ice and lemon peel.
I was so impressed by Chef Bangerter that, when he kindly came to our table to introduce himself, I totally forgot to ask him for a photo. So, here is the genius behind it all.
The next morning, still full from the night before, we made our way back to the main house for brekkie. There is a buffet offering pretty much everything you could ever want for breakfast (I love that a lot of the baked goods were bite-size so you could sample and not have to commit to one large treat). On top of all this there is a full menu with everything from steel-cut oats to smoked fish cakes.
Breakfast alfresco is a treat and is served at Langdon under a Camperdown Elm tree – you can see it top left. It was sweltering at 9:00 am but sitting under this 100-year-old tree you’d never know it.
It really is fun and games at Langdon Hall.
The Relais & Chateaux property is extremely popular with Torontonians, as well as the odd bold-face name – think Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis, John Malkovich and Canada’s beloved late Gord Downie to name just a few. If you’ve been here, you know how magical it is. If you haven’t – book now. I can assure you, you’ll leave with a spring in your step and that joyful elation that comes with great food, service and very special surrounds.