The Savoy, more than just a fine piece of art – a living legend!
Think of a painting by an anonymous artist who simply forgot to sign his creation, subconsciously confident that one day people will not necessarily understand but will surely cherish his work. Then, add a Swiss clock on the same wall, by the painting, which purpose is not to show the time, but make you pause and think that the craftsman who built it, all he had in mind was precision and not aesthetics or design.
And, as you walk by the painting and the clock, the sound of music and laughter draw you to a room with a half open door…and you cannot resist to take a peak inside. Somebody spots you and grabs your hand to take you in. You don’t know the name of the play or its writer but you cannot help burst into laughing. But then you remember that while you entered someone said ‘the ascending room is to your right’ and curiosity makes you wonder…
In the morning, someone knocks on your door and confidently walks towards the curtains to open them and London reveals its splendour…the Thames and the London Eye. You watch the clock on your bedside table and find yourself smiling yet again, as you gaze at the beautiful Marilyn Monroe in black and white photo which was taken there in the same building, and you cannot help but wonder ‘maybe she actually slept in this very same bed’.
When taking over the management of The Savoy, Fairmont understood that the success of the re-opening will not only depend on the restoration and refurbishing of the building details. Instead, they approached the project with a daring confidence, knowing that guests will not be drawn to The Savoy because they added or kept a certain architectural detail, but in the spirit of the hotel. All they needed to picture was the smile in the eyes of Sophia Loren, returning to the hotel after 60 years and feeling like nothing has changed.
She would love the new Kasper’s Restaurant with its oyster shell fish-bar, overlooking the huge windows opening on the Thames, as much as she would feel at home in the American Bar sipping a cocktail from the The Savoy Cocktail book by legendary bartenders such as Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman and Harry Craddock, still regarded over 80 years later, as the bartenders’ bible.
Fairmont also understood that innovation has always been at the heart of The Savoy’s spirit, but not with the purpose of an overt ‘Wow factor’ which many luxury hotels, nowadays, translate into bling, glamour and technology which, in many cases ends up in intimidating guests. Innovation at The Savoy has been carried on into the 21st century, especially regarding service – the introduction of a Green Butler, on hand to share what The Savoy and London has to offer the eco-conscious tourist, including the opportunity to experience a unique green tour taking in nearby locations of special environmental interest.
Fairmont has also introduced another unique service the ‘Suite Welcome’ – in addition to the Butler service guests benefit from complimentary pick up and drop off from airport or station as well as a one-hour private Champagne River Cruise for two aboard The Silver Darling luxury speed boat throughout the summer, docked at The Savoy’s very own private pier.
Whether some of us admit or not, we all love chocolate. To make sure that no-one remains indifferent, or better to say, no-one can resist a sweet temptation – with the re-opening, The Savoy conceived The Tea Store where besides the shelves of handmade jams, macaroons, biscuits and fresh patisserie, one can watch a Maitre Patissier prepare, live, on the spot, the most beautiful chocolate creations. As Wimbledon tennis was just about to start, the window display, had (of course!) a basked of real size tennis balls, made of white chocolate and marzipan…
Service at the hotel is simply of the precision of a Swiss watch, friendly, pampering, yet extremely respectful. I was most impressed by the Guest Relations team which would instil through confidence the feeling of ‘being in good hands’. Attention to details was impressive, but mostly because it seemed so effortless and natural. When, one particular staff would not be confident about how to pronounce my name, they would not stumble but instead, call me ‘Sir’.
It is this unique confidence that I felt during my recent stay at The Savoy, which equally attracts travellers from all corners of the world as well as local patrons, making for a unique mix of customers, making anyone feel comfortable and at home. The fact that the Savoy provided inspiration for Claude Monet, one of the most iconic impressionist painters in history, speaks for the location of the hotel. From the balcony of the 618 Suite, at The Savoy, Monet painted in 1901 the ‘Waterloo Bridge’ pastel, one of his most celebrated works - in a letter to his wife Alice he wrote: “London would be quite ugly if it was not for the fog.” He was a more congenial guest at The Savoy than Picasso, who stayed in the hotel for six weeks, but left without paying his bill.
Other exquisite details, not to be missed at the hotel: afternoon tea in the Thames Foyer under the painted glass dome and listening to live piano placed in a winter garden gazebo, the Savoy’s very own museum – among the highlights - 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.
Oliver Petcu in London
- dedicated photo gallery on CPP-LUXURY.COM Facebook page
- short video of the Monet Suite (618) link
- Charlie Chaplin and Sophia Loren in a press conference The Savoy in 1965 – video
- Christian Dior fashion show at The Savoy 1950 – video