Diamonds may be a girls’ best friend, but a stay at The Savoy surely comes in a close second. In truth it’s hard not to think of glamorous starlets like Marylyn Monroe, Maria Callas and Katherine Hepburn and fellow film icons like Charlie Chaplin and Fred Astaire as soon as you step through the doors of The Savoy. We take a look at the hotel’s history, follow up on some curious facts and unveil what’s new with this renowned London landmark.
A History of Grandeur & Extravagance
Opened in 1889, the name “Savoy” was chosen to honour the history of the property, which goes back to the Count of Savoy, Peter II. Influenced by the opulence of American hotels at the time, theatrical entrepreneur, Richard D’Oyly Carte, built The Savoy to attract foreign clientele as well as the British elite who travelled to London to indulge in their love for the theatre and opera as well as a little sightseeing. The hotel combined glamour with the cutting-edge technology of the time, which meant it was also the first in the world to be entirely lit by electric lights and the first to install electric lifts to whisk the great and the good to their suites.
Since its spectacular opening the hotel has continued to fascinate the rich and famous, and has played host to stunning parties over the decadent decades. One particular soiree would be forever recorded in the hotel’s history books; that of the American millionaire George A. Kessler’s famous “Gondola Party” in 1905. No expense was spared for the celebration; the central courtyard was flooded and filled with gondolas where the guests dined, scenery was erected around the walls to recreate Venice and staff added to the foreign flavor by donning Italian-themed costumes. A major world-wide star at the time, opera singer Enrico Caruso sang live to the guests. But the highlight of the evening was the surreal sight of a five foot tall birthday cake being brought in on the back of a baby elephant!
From the entertainment industry to the world of politics, an impressive number of world famous figures have stayed at The Savoy over the years. Hollywood star, Marylyn Monroe, always stayed here when in London, movie icon Marlene Dietrich insisted on having a dozen pink roses and a bottle of Dom Perignon in her suite whenever she visited, and Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill used to dine with his cabinet colleagues at The Savoy’s Grill.
The list of star-studded moments in the hotel’s history is endless: French impressionist Claude Monet painted the view of the Thames from his room, and music legend Bob Dylan filmed the famous Subterranean Homesick Blues video in a nearby alley. To see the exact location with the help of Google maps take a look here.
More recently famous guests include the likes of Victoria Beckham and Samantha Cameron. Modern film-stars Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz recently created a bit of a stir at The Savoy during the filming of the movie Gambit. We heard the scene where Colin had to run around The Savoy with no trousers, while getting himself into all sorts of cringe-worthy situations, was particularly funny for some of the lucky guests! But don’t get your hopes up thinking you might get some tip-offs about stars or gossip from the staff; The Savoy pride themselves on the hotel’s reputation, and are a byword for impeccable service and discretion. There is however a small archive museum at the hotel displaying pictures and even some possessions belonging to its famous guests over the years.
A restoration for the 21st Century
Following The Savoy’s closure in 2007, one of the most ambitious hotel restorations of the 21st century began. On October, 10th, 2010 (‘10-10-10’), The Savoy finally reopened after its £220 million restoration, which had taken almost three years to complete.
The familiar restaurants and bars that helped The Savoy make its name have now been given a splendid makeover. The Savoy Grill has Chef Patron Stuart Gillies, of Gordon Ramsay Holdings, overseeing its classically-inspired menu. There is a nod to the hotel’s history, with some of the Edwardian-style dishes that Sir Winston Churchill and guests dined on, still served today, including the Arnold Bennett Omelette and the scrumptious Peach Melba, originally invented for another famous guest, opera singer Dame Nellie Melba. The American Bar, widely regarded as one of the world’s best hotel bars with a history that harks back to the golden age of cocktails in the 1920’s, is now serving food for the first time in its history.
New addition, the Beaufort Bar, is all about champagne, cabaret and burlesque. Featuring a very glamorous Art Deco interior of jet-black and burnished gold, the bar offers one of London’s most extensive choices of champagne including rare vintages.
On the other hand, guest rooms are now more luxurious than ever, honouring the hotel’s two main aesthetics, English Edwardian and Art Deco, no two rooms or suites are the same
Convincing enough? Why not embrace a bit of old-school glamour, with a quirky modern twist and head to our site to book a stay at The Savoy.