Something Old: The Savoy Hotel London

Want to treat yourself or someone special? Need that extra bit of luxury in 2013? Maybe a trip to the Savoy Hotel would be for you.

Savoy Place in London has had a long history of luxury.  It’s first incarnation was the amazing Savoy Palace built by peter, count of Savoy in 1226.  This sprawling palace then became home to the dukes of Lancaster, and finally lived in by John of Gaunt, the youngest son of King Edward III.  It was John who was in residence in the palace when  it was destroyed during the infamous peasant’s revolt in 1381.  Savoy Palace was long known as the greatest house in England, and was one of the centres of art and culture in medieval England.  It was famous across the land as the home to a stunning collection of tapestries and art, all of which were destroyed in 1381.  It is also well known that one of the greatest writers in English history, Geoffrey Chaucer began his “Canterbury Tales” while in residence at the palace.  The  destruction of the palace during the revolt was one of the greatest architectural losses of London.  But at least the name Savoy has been immortalised and the complex still retains the name.


Over 600 years after the destruction of the palace, Savoy Place is still a centre for art and culture. Now it is home to the more peaceful, Savoy Theatre and of course the stunning Savoy hotel.  The theatre was the first modern use of the site.  opened in 1881 by Richard D’oyly Carte it was built as a showcase for the works of Gilbert and Sullivan.  An interesting fact of this building, is that it is famed as being by the first public building to ever be fully lit by electricity.  The Gilbert and Sullivan operas became so popular, that in 1889 D’oyly Carte decided to build the Savoy Hotel next door to house them, and the site has never looked back since.


The Savoy Hotel first opened it’s doors in 1889.  The hotel was the first in the Savoy group of hotels that was owned by Carte’s family for well over a century.   Just as with the theatre, the hotel was a first in it’s own right.   The Savoy Hotel London is the first luxury hotel in Britain, and it introduced to the public new features such as electric lights throughout the hotel, electric lifts (known as ascending rooms, the original lift is till in operation today), most of the lavishly furnished rooms at the hotel even had en suite bathrooms with constant hot and cold running water and many other innovations.  In 1890, probably the most famous name in Hotels came to work at the hotel, Caesar Ritz, was appointed hotel manager, and it is at the Savoy where Ritz crafted his expertise, which he then used to open a his competing hotel in Piccadilly  which to this day is still in competition with the Savoy.  The Savoy of course had always held its own however, well in my opinion anyway.


The doors of the hotel were open, without a break from 1889 – 2007, during two world wars (it was a favourite meeting place of war leaders), and a great depression. It only closed between 2007 and 2010 in order to undertake one of the most ambitious restoration projects in the hotel industry.  Costing £220 million pounds, the Savoy re-opened on 10/10/10 better then ever and once again taking its position at the fore front of the luxury hotel industry.

Anyone for High Tea?

Everywhere you turn in the Savoy there are nods to its illustrious past, from the Lancaster Ballroom to the signature suites, named after many of the famous guests who have stayed at the hotel over its history, from Charlie Chaplin to Frank Sinatra.  One of these suites is the Monet suite as Claude Monet was in residence at the Savoy when he created one of his most famous scenes “Waterloo Bridge”. He sketched the pastel artwork in January 1901 from his view from room 618.  The hotel also had a huge part  to play in the indecency trial of Oscar Wilde, it was at the hotel where he conducted his ill-fated affair with Lord Alfred Douglas in the 1890′s.  This, of course is only a tiny portion of the famous names that have passed through the marble clad lobby of the hotel, there are far too many to mention here, but you can be sure, from when it first opened in 1889  to the present day, anyone who is anyone was seen at the Savoy.  The hotel has always been a magnate for the wealthy and famous who throng to this historic, and stunningly beautiful building, in search of the luxury and pedigree that only the Savoy can deliver.

The Savoy Hotel

So if you are a fan of literature, history and art, treat yourself to a stay at the Savoy London. Rates can start from £290 up to £10,000 a night, if you really want a special Christmas treat. (Santa may I please have a trip to the Savoy, please? – Ed.)

To find out more about the restoration you can purchase a book by Siobhan Doran which documents the whole process. If cocktails are more your think you can find a copy of one of the cocktail books here. Alternatively you can purchase some vintage photos of the hotel.

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