London’s Savoy Hotel Reclaims Its Glamour

The Savoy’s age-old spirit has been revived by an artful revamp, writes Alicia Buller

Few hotels boast a history as star-studded as the Savoy. Cast your mind back to a golden age. To an era when glamour was more Miller and Monroe than Posh and Becks. The 121-year-old building oozes with nostalgia and its glittering memories seem to seep through its newly revamped pale green walls.

The Savoy was closed for almost three years from December 2007, missing its reopening deadline by 18 months and costing more than double its estimated $160 million budget. At the time, critics expressed reservations about how the no-expense spared revamp – spearheaded by the hotel’s owner Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia and Canadian management company, the Fairmont – could possibly stay true to the hotel’s doggedly English roots. But no one is shaking heads now.

The revamp, like all the best revamps, seems barely there. The Savoy’s raison d’etre lies in its in past – and under the new refurbishment, its greatest asset has been reclaimed. The hotel where Fred Astaire made his career dancing, Marilyn Monroe stayed and Queen Elizabeth was first seen as a princess with Prince Philip has been pumped back to life in a fresh, understated way.

Designer Pierre-Yves Rochon helped to modernise the building’s Edwardian and Art Deco styles and created interiors in keeping with the hotel’s spirit – derived from an age where courtesy and discretion meant everything, and sex and glamour pulsed under the surface, not on neon billboards or celebrity internet gossip sites.

Of the 268 plush suites and rooms, one third are in Art Deco style and the rest are Edwardian. I was lucky enough to stay in the River View Deluxe Suite, which is kitted out in Edwardian style and directly overlooks the Thames. I could take in four of London’s main bridges from my bedroom window, as well as unmatched views of Big Ben, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament.

The room was spacious, discreetly appointed and restful – simple, even. The great thing about The Savoy is that you’re left to your own devices in frankly exquisite surroundings. The door is never knocked upon should you choose. The phone does not ring with unnecessary calls. The personal butlers glide in and out of the room like courteous ghosts. The suite artfully blends traditional decor with the latest in discreet technology. If you go looking, you’ll discover 42-inch Loewe flat-screen televisions, as well as an integrated media player that can be played in all rooms.

A big feature of the room is the bed itself – huge, enveloping, and swathed in Mascioni bed linen – it’s fit for a king, or Posh Spice, who reportedly chooses to stay at the hotel over her own home when she visits the UK capital. Discretion is a standout quality of the Savoy and it’s no wonder that celebrities and royalty seek out the anonymity of this hotel. Guests will not need to check in or out, nor deal with their bills in the lobby – everything will be delivered to the room by a personal butler.

The range of services offered goes beyond the remit of even the finest hotels and is a diva’s dream. A quick glance at the items available from the housekeeping team confirms this: hair straighteners, jogging suits, humidifiers, nail kits, a range of pillows, running shoes and vases are just some of the unusual items on the list.

You may find it difficult to leave your suite at the Savoy as most things can be done from your room and it’s devilishly comfortable. But should you choose to, it’s worth inspecting the glamourous Beaufort Bar, which is kitted out in gold leaf, or Gordon Ramsay’s famous Savoy Grill restaurant. Or you could test out the hotel’s personal shopping service, where you’ll get to shop in five-star style. However you choose to enjoy the Savoy, there’s no denying that this is the revamp of revamps.