The Sensual Savoy
By Angela Fairhurst
In 1246, the Count of Savoy was gifted a piece of land between the Strand and the Thames and built a palace. 600 years later, Richard D’Oyly Carte chose the site for Gilbert and Sullivan plays and coined it The Savoy Theatre. The popularity of the plays took him to America where experiencing the modern hotels, motivated D’Oyly to bring The Savoy up with the times and build a luxury hotel in the heart of the theatre district.
D’Oyly embarked on a 5 year build, the first with true electricity including elevators called “ascending rooms”. Speaking tubes facilitated the ability for guests to communicate with maids, valets and waiters. The Savoy later became the first hotel with en suite bathrooms with quick filling baths and cascading showers. Well-known hotel manager César Ritz joined the hotel and brought in the first celebrity chef of its day, Auguste Escoffier. Artists, Writers, Diplomats and Celebrities frequented the hotel. By 1904, the hotel was so popular that designer Thomas Collcutt was hired to expand it, moving the American Bar and the Savoy Grill into this new section. The famous Savoy Cocktail Book was published in 1930.
Those standards have stayed with the hotel throughout the times. Now a Fairmont-managed five star hotel, The Savoy is all about quality service and 21st century comforts while keeping the charm and character of London. The biggest three-year renovation took place from 2007-2010 and had Designer Pierre-Yves Rochon undertake the task of restoring the Edwardian style of the original buildings and the Art Deco style of the 1920s and 30s. The Savoy Tea and Beaufort Bar were added.
Today, fresh flowers adorn all the public rooms with crystal chandeliers glistening from the high ceilings and black and white checkerboard floors across the lobby. There are well-known eateries and bars ranging from Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill, to Kaspar’s Seafood and the American and Beaufort Bars.
The hotel is tastefully decorated. The lavish rooms are decorated in Edwardian or art deco style with crown moldings, original pieces of art, classic furnishing and crystal light fixtures.
Luxury marble bathrooms have classic black and white floors, echoing the lobby floors, with claw-footed tubs and designer toiletries. Suites add butler service and seating areas. The Thames River views from some of the rooms are arguably the best in the city.
Other amenities include an indoor pool, a spa and fitness center as well as a 24-hour business center.