Opened in 1889, The Savoy was the first luxury hotel in Britain, introducing electric lights throughout the building, electric lifts, bathrooms in most of the lavishly furnished rooms, constant hot and cold running water and many other innovations. The owners hired at the time César Ritz as Manager and Auguste Escoffier as Chef de Cuisine; they established an unprecedented standard of quality in hotel service, entertainment and elegant dining, attracting royalty and other rich and powerful guests and diners.
Regardless of ownership or operator (hotel group), expectations have always been sky-high at the legendary The Savoy for those staying at the hotel but also local patrons. Post pandemic, the hotel is once again in the spotlight with – a new television series broadcast in the U.K., a new Royal Suite designed by Gucci and being the backdrop for Gucci’s anniversary (catwalk show of Gucci Aria was staged at the hotel) as well as for the advertising campaign was also partly shot on location.
After almost two years, I have returned to London and I could not be happier to have chosen The Savoy. I was most impressed that after such a long period of closure and months of very limited operations, the iconic luxury hotel has overcome the major challenges facing London’s luxury hospitality sector, such as the shortage of qualified staff and regaining consistency in providing the highest service standards, especially through motivating the team – re-kindling that vibe and energy, that positiveness which all of us yearn for after the painful months and months of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Despite the hotel running at full capacity of its accommodation inventory but also of its dining venues (including a wedding of 300+ guests), I was met with genuine enthusiasm, positiveness, a great vibe but by an incessant desire to make the best of my stay. Every single staff I would interact during my stay would not only address me by my name but would make me feel taken care of – ”being in safe hands”.
My suite was spotlessly clean and the already legendary Butler service was firmly back in action. The entire team showed not only care but a lot of professionalism in the quest to fulfil the wishes of the most discerning guest. They were attentive and predictive and they would also be able to adapt in such a way to extend a personalised and individualised service, making each and every guest feel special – and I saw a lot of joy and happiness during my stay.
Breakfast and afternoon tea were flawless in every sense – the ambiance of The Savoy is truly unique. But it is also a great mix of guests – and one can easily see their admiration of The Savoy but also how proud and special they felt being guests of The Savoy. It is this unique sense of prestige (”feeling special”) which is at the core of desirability – the primary DNA component of luxury. People aspire and dream of spending a special break at The Savoy and a stay is actually a special occasion.
The last major renovation of the hotel was completed in October 2010 by interior designers of Pierre Yves Rochon, the hotel being closed prior, for almost 3 years. After almost 11 years, I was very pleased to discover a very well maintained product – the choice of the highest quality materials and performing the highest standards in finishes – are now showing the results of the £100 million investment. The Savoy is undoubtedly classic but with the renovation completed in 2010, it also added a very well conceived contemporary twist, ensuring relevance in time.
Upgrading to a room or suite overlooking The Thames is definitely worth every penny. The views of Thames and the London Eye are magical at any given time of the day – right in front of the hotel there is a small park and a garden – listening to the birds in the morning is yet another exceptional experience. Utmost attention has been paid and is being paid to comfort – you will enjoy an exceptionally comfortable bed and large marble bathrooms, most with a free-standing classic style bathtub and a large walk-in shower with amenities by British brand Penhaligon’s.
Make sure you do not miss the Beaufort Bar, with a dramatic setting – an ideal venue before or after your dinner but also pre/post theatre. The Savoy’s American Bar which is the oldest surviving cocktail bar in Britain, first welcoming guests for its popular ‘American-style’ drinks in 1893, will be reopening next month to welcome its many fans and patrons. The American Bar pays homage to the legendary musicians and songwriters that have entertained guests in the bar for decades. Each of the 20 cocktails featured in the menu have been inspired by some of the most iconic songs played in the bar today.
The Savoy is nowadays managed by Accor’s Fairmont Hotels, which adds to the strength of the hotel. The property has been seamlessly implementing all the Covid-19 safety and hygiene measures, both those indicated by local authorities but also the Accor ALLSAFE program which was developed in collaboration with renowned expert specialist companies such as Bureau Veritas. Most important is that the property has been consistent at implementing these measures and has been succeeding in making guests feel least impacted or disturbed.
A big Thank You to Franck, Vanessa, Alex R. and the entire team: Front Office (Roberto, Shawn); Alex / Alexandra, Juan (Food & Beverage); House-keeping (Elisa) and Butlers (Michael). All of them went out of their way to make my stay not only special, but most important memorable.
Oliver Petcu in London
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