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Timeless glamour on the banks of the Thames

·4-min read
Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

If walls could talk, the Savoy would be quite the dinner-party guest. Its reams of exhilarating tales of the silver-screen stars and Royalty who have stayed in its suites since first opening its doors in 1889 would keep you entertained for hours.

Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich loved it here – as did Edward VII, who frequently dined here with friends; and Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret often twirled their way around the dazzling Edwardian ballroom in the 1940s. The timeless, tasteful extravagance of the hotel is so beloved by the Queen that she has been its patron for more than six decades, and a portrait of her hangs in its upper foyer.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

It is a magical setting for marking a special occasion; my partner and I visited for our 10thanniversary and felt a veritable shiver of excitement stepping into the gleaming checker-floored lobby, past the smart top hats and tailcoats of the doormen. After a succession of lockdowns, it seemed unfathomable that this grand dame had ever switched its lights off, for it was abuzz with glamorous guests dressed to the nines (including a luxurious parade of enviable designer masks).

Tradition is at the heart of the Savoy and is tangible at every turn, from the preserved red lift (originally named an ‘ascending room’) dating back to 1889 when the hotel first opened, to the discreet but attentive service. In fact, the hotel even has a miniature museum within, offering a brief history for the curious among its guests. The ritual of afternoon tea is unforgettable here: served against the backdrop of the stained-glass cupola and with the music of feather-light grand-piano playing, plus the endless offering of artful patisseries.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

The 265 spacious rooms and suites come in two styles: Edwardian or art deco, with many overlooking the rippling Thames. The former is clad with dark wood and lifted by silver accents, while the latter showcases floral furniture, caramel furnishings and geometric lights – but all come with cloud-like beds and indulgent Penhaligon’s products adorning the walk-in showers and claw-foot tubs in the bathrooms. You can also borrow a book for your visit, requested from the Book Butler that has novels selected by the hotel’s own dedicated literary ambassador. Downstairs, the swimming pool is a real gem to discover in the city, which you will find 33-feet down in a bright atrium, neighboured by a sauna and steam-room, as well as a gym and two treatment-rooms, should you wish to book in for one of the spa’s exceptional Natura Bissé facials.

Thrilled by the opportunity to dress up – for the hotel beckons the finest of your finery – we raised a toast of potent ‘Composer’ cocktails (a delicious mix of champagne, bergamot, vodka and rhubarb cordial) at the seductively gilded Beaufort Bar. Though it was closed during our visit, we made a promise to ourselves to return for drinks at American Bar, the oldest surviving cocktail bar in Britain, which has a menu of drinks playfully referencing a memorable line of a song by musicians who have entertained guests there throughout history.

Photo credit: Courtesy
Photo credit: Courtesy

After drinks, we were escorted by our attentive server back to our breath-taking river-view Monet Suite – through hidden mirrored doors, which we were told is Michael Bublé’s favourite route to secretly slip away from the bar. Upstairs, we found a table set beside the window, scattered with tealights and a shining candelabra, ready to host an indulgent three-course dinner with a champagne pairing. The menu featured tantalising dishes of Irish Carlingford oysters with yuzu and black pearls, white asparagus with caviar, seared lamb fillet with gnocchi, and mouth-watering chocolate and salted caramel-filled globe, each perfectly plated portion accompanied by a sparkling glass of Louis Roederer (the Cristal 2013 is one you will not forget). When the sun set and the banks of the Thames began to glitter with colourful lights, we couldn’t tear our eyes away from the view; our table overlooked the riverbend, giving a phenomenal panoramic of Westminster, the London Eye and South Bank all the way down to the Oxo Tower.

As a mainstay of London’s Strand for more than 130 years, it is safe to say the Savoy has lost none of its sparkle. Having hosted some of the most iconic members of the glitterati, the hotel is well-versed in star treatment and knows exactly how to deliver it.

For more information and to book the Savoy’s Louis Roederer Dining Experience, visit www.thesavoylondon.com.

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