What can possibly be added to the accolade The Savoy has received in years past, not least after its extensive recent renovation opening in 2010, a magic touch of restoration work respecting it's original grandeur and beauty.
It was here that Cesar Ritz, the notable hotelier that later built The Ritz in London, and August Escoffier, ‘king of chefs and chef of kings’, honed their craft. Here Monet painted his famous views of The Thames and The Savoy has since played host to royalty, world leaders and legends of the stage and screen – Edward VII, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, Laurence Olivier, Marilyn Monroe and Noël Coward to name but a few.
Stepping through the doors of The Savoy, now owned by HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul Aziz Alsaud and managed by the Fairmont group, feels like starting an exotic adventure and it soon becomes clear that this is not just a beautiful hotel, it is a very glamorous iconic hotel steeped in history. When it originally opened in 1889 it was the first true luxury hotel in Britain, introducing electric lights throughout the building, electric lifts known as ascending rooms, bathrooms and the most lavishly furnished rooms seen in the hotel industry, hot and cold running water, and many other innovations. Guests rooms were for example connected by speaking tubes to the valets, maids and floor waiter and other parts of the hotel. It has come a long way and among its many strongpoints today is its respect for the environment manifested in the green colour of its iconic art deco logo and numerous awards.
The Savoy would seem an obvious choice for many wishing to enjoy what London has to offer in theatre and the arts with its prime location. What may come as a surprise is the fact that the Savoy Theatre, hosting during our stay a much enjoyed final performance of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, preceded the hotel. Emboldened by the continued success of his productions of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operas, theatrical impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte decided to build his own theatre in which to stage them. Such was their success that this prompted an even bigger enterprise, The Savoy Hotel which opened on 6th August 1889 and offered accommodation for the many tourists, especially Americans, who travelled to London to see the Savoy Operas. The arts stimulating economic growth being a vital part of the economy, much emphasized in recent times, is indeed no novelty.
It's impossible to forget whilst walking through the Thames Foyer, that this hotel hosts the most famous bars and restaurants in London including the American Bar which connects to the Savoy Museum. The hotel’s rich history has been preserved in one of the largest hotel archives in the world. For the first time, these archives are now on show in the museum space. The showcase and photography are designed to give guests a taste of The Savoy’s past with original guest cards, menus, photographs and objets on display. Highlights include a first edition of Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book, Noel Coward’s lighter and cigarette case and Marlene Dietrich’s guest card showing her request that 12 pink roses and a bottle of Dom Perignon be in her room when she arrived.
The secret to its enduring success may be that the Savoy established early on an unprecedented standard of quality in hotel service attracting royalty and movie stars from all over the world. It was the place of choice in the last few decades for many including the likes of Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe, Charlie Chaplin, Elisabeth Taylor and Richard Burton amongst many others.
Attached to the hotel and with a romantic view of the river Thames we find the buzzy Kaspar‘s Seafood Bar and Grill, an informal yet luxurious seafood and oyster restaurant set in a dazzling art deco style. Cut-glass mirroring and bright brass railings, silver leaf ceiling and chequer-board marble floor frame a central circular bar flanked by Murano glass columns and pendant glass light fittings to crown Kaspar’s theatrical style.
Leading the culinary team is German born Holger Jackisch who re-joins The Savoy as executive chef and who believes in only using fresh local ingredients with a french base and a contemporary presentation which we experience with delicious slivers of smoked salmon, lobster, sea bass and dover sole followed by the most unforgettable and mouth strawberry & kiwi pavlova and a peach mousse delice hinting at one of Escoffier's signature dishes, Peche Melba, which indeed can be found among an extensive selection of the new signature items in the form of an éclair, in the latest addition to the hotel food and beverage family: Melba at The Savoy. Such delights would have to wait until visiting this exquisite restaurant next time.
No doubt Marlene Dietrich‘s song will resound then as it does now, falling in love again… with the Savoy.