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A Festive Staycation at The Savoy, London:
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
The Savoy holds a special place in my heart. Of course, it is THE iconic London hotel. Sometimes regarded as the first luxury hotel here it opened in 1889 and has become a real feature of London life and style. For me, though, it is simply that it was one of my regular haunts before it closed for a major renovation in 2007. I never had the chance to stay in the ‘old’ Savoy, but I did drink regularly in the American Bar and a special occasion would usually warrant a trip to the Savoy Grill for Dover Sole or Chateaubriand. As familiar as a pair of very expensive but now rather worn leather shoes, I was comfortable and at home.
After the renovation, I went back a couple of times. While I am sure the changes to the Grill make for a technically better restaurant, it had lost its charm for me. And, while the American Bar still had a piano player, everything else felt unfamiliar and slightly uncomfortable. It takes time, I believe, to ‘wear in’ a newly restored building – enough time to let the memory fade some of the things I loved about the old Savoy, like the charming bar staff in white uniforms which appeared to date back to the 1950s, the obligatory jacket and tie for gentlemen in the Grill and the fact that I was never allowed to order my own food at the restaurants there.
An opportunity to take a proper look at the ‘new’ Savoy (which has been opened for six years now) was one not to be turned down. And, I was delighted by what I found. Checking into the hotel for the first time ever I went upstairs in the elegant, green lacquered lift to find myself in an art deco styled room which could have been part of the original building.
Floor to ceiling walk-in mirrored wardrobes, wooden panelling and an elegant marble bathroom complete with spacious tub and traditional chrome fittings.
Later, we were taken to see a little more of the hotel – the stunning Savoy Suite, complete with one of the best views of London and with its own contemporary art exhibition and the two bedroom Royal Suite, which spreads across much of the river facing front of the fifth floor, so that every room has an extraordinary view.
Monet stayed at the Savoy and produced some of his famous Thames paintings from rooms on the fifth and sixth floor. The hotel even has its own pier, where guests can hire a luxury river yacht or cruiser.
Downstairs we took a look at the stunning Beaufort Bar, and at the Thames Foyer, where guests were enjoying afternoon tea, before settling down in the American Bar for pink hot chocolate and cocktails. A gentle reminder of our raison d’etre to wait up and watch the hotel being decorated for Christmas.
Of course, we dined like kings at Kaspars and I’ll write in more detail about that experience. Then, coffee in hand, we went to wait in the lobby.
Well after midnight the tree arrived, firmly tied onto the back of a large white lorry. The team of Christmas decorators processed in with packages, boxes, ladders and more. And, the tree itself was eventually loaded onto a trolley and wheeled into the lobby.
There is something of a challenge in trimming a 15ft Christmas tree in just a few hours, before the hotel guests get up for breakfast. Even getting it upright takes a whole team of helpers. And, of course, of the twenty-nine Christmas decorators, only a few could actually trim the tree- there simply wouldn’t have been space for everyone to help. Instead, the Christmas team were deployed through the hotel under the watchful eye of Belinda Bowles, the Creative Floral Design Manager.
The winter garden Gazebo was decked with baubles and white fir, side tables ladened with Christmas displays and display windows took on a distinctly snowy look.
Meanwhile, the team was at work decking the tree with ‘Boodles’ pink envelopes and mirrored deco squares and rectangles. A Boodles pink letterbox arrived – ready for guests to post their Christmas list, and two rather gorgeous copper greyhounds complete with pink ribbons around their necks took up residence under the tree. The Savoy is a dog friendly hotel and guests are welcome to bring small and medium sized dogs into the hotel.
The inspiration for this year’s decorations comes from Boodles, the hotel’s jeweller and from Louis Roederer, the hotel’s preferred champagne. There’s a Champagne festive afternoon tea with Boodles inspired pastries and a glass of Louise Roederer Vintage Rosé Cuvée. And if you are feeling lucky, there’s a chance to win a pendant from Boodles by filling in your Christmas wishlist, posting it to the Savoy Santa through the special postbox and then posting your own Instagram of the Christmas Tree with the hashtag #DreamingofaPinkChristmas
I’ve filled in my own Christmas wishlist and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Although if I’m honest, I’m quite thrilled just to have had the opportunity to see Christmas get started at the Savoy.
Interested in visiting the Savoy at Christmas (or any other time of the year)? Pin this post for later!
We were guests of The Savoy London.