London’s famed Savoy reopens in crowded luxury market

Among most ambitious hotel renovations ever

LONDON The Savoy will officially reopen on Sunday, following a 35-month, £220 million renovation by its new management company, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.

Considered one of the most ambitious restorations in UK history, the 121-year-old hotel closed in December 2007 for a renovation that encompassed the entire building, from the iconic entrance and the American Bar to Savoy Grill and the 268 guestrooms and suites.

“We are very excited to reopen The Savoy,” says General Manager Kiaran MacDonald. “It is fair to say that this project has not been without its challenges, but we are looking forward to unveiling the results of nearly three years of hard work and dedication. We are very aware of the place that The Savoy holds in many people’s affections, and we firmly believe that the hotel will exceed people’s expectations and reclaim its position as one of the world’s great hotels.”

Russell Kett, managing director of hotel consultancy HVS London, believes The Savoy’s reopening will create huge interest and strong bookings through the end of the year. “The hotel has been restored to its former glory – what was needed to be done has been done,” Kett says. “What remains to be seen is how Fairmont can drive and maintain business at an average room rate the hotel was never able to operate at previously.”

Other luxury London hotel projects are expected to come to market soon, and Kett believes The Savoy has about two months of “trading in the spotlight” to win over loyal guests before competition like the Waldorf Astoria Syon Park, the renovated Four Seasons Park Lane and Corinthia Hotel London open.

“These leading luxury hotels will compete for top-paying guests through luxurious suites, top quality spa facilities and restaurants run by well-known chefs,” Kett says. “The new Daniel Boulud restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park is enjoying tremendous success, as will the highly anticipated opening of Heston Blumenthal’s London outpost, Dinner, also at the Mandarin Oriental. Gordon Ramsay will be heading up the kitchen at The Savoy Grill, another eagerly anticipated reopening on the London dining scene.”

Design aesthetics brought back to life

The Savoy’s main design aesthetics, Edwardian and Art Deco, have been carefully brought back to life under the direction of world-renowned designer Pierre Yves Rochon. More than 1,000 craftsmen, artists and artisans have worked tirelessly to create interiors that are in keeping with the hotel’s original and much-loved spirit.

Thirty-eight new River Suites and guestrooms have been added, offering stunning views over the River Thames. Nine Personality Suites will pay tribute to a few of the artists and famous figures who made this legendary hotel their London home away from home, including Maria Callas, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich and Frank Sinatra. The suites contain artwork, literature, photographs and artifacts that evoke the time and spirit of the stars, including the 12 pink roses in the Marlene Dietrich Suite that the actress always requested upon arrival.

The Savoy’s reopening also includes the addition of a stately 325-sq.-m Royal Suite, featuring two bedrooms, a study, sitting room, dining room, master bathroom, dressing room (with a specially ventilated shoe closet) and a master bedroom with a bespoke Savoir bed.

The hotel’s legendary River Restaurant sees a contemporary interpretation of Art Deco décor, while guests will welcome the reopening of the American Bar, refreshed but intact in spirit. In addition, Savoy Grill will return under the operation of Gordon Ramsay Holdings with Chef Patron Stuart Gillies and Head Chef Andy Cook. 

New to the hotel will be The Beaufort Bar, a glamorous Art Deco bar built on the hotel’s original cabaret stage that will offer champagne, cocktails and cabaret and Savoy Tea, a bijou teashop selling Savoy tea, accessories and fresh patisserie. Within the Thames Foyer, the reintroduction of a stunning gazebo beneath an ornate glass dome provides perfect ambience for afternoon tea.

In its inception, The Savoy was famous for its cutting edge innovations, such as “ascending rooms”—known today as elevators—and en suite baths. Continuing in its avant-garde tradition, The Savoy will introduce world’s first Green Butler. In addition to providing all the traditional butler services such as unpacking and packing (using recycled tissue paper), serving morning coffee and arranging receptions, The Savoy’s Green Butler will also have an in-depth knowledge of ‘all things green’ around London.

The restoration has introduced environmental technologies and efficiencies wherever possible. For example, a combined heat and power plant will reduce the hotel’s reliance on the national grid by approximately 50%, and an innovative system will reclaim the heat from all kitchen appliances to preheat domestic hot water. Cooking oil from the hotel restaurants will be recycled and turned into biodiesel, while waste management systems will recycle up to 90% of waste from the hotel. The hotel also partners with the Thames 21 charitable organization to help maintain the stretch of River Thames in front of The Savoy.

Established in 1889, The Savoy was the brainchild of the Gilbert and Sullivan impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte. Originally managed by Swiss hotelier César Ritz and Maitre Chef Auguste Escoffier, the hotel became known for its glittering parties and glitterati guests. Escoffier created dishes for Sarah Bernhardt, Lily Langtry, Dame Nellie Melba and Edward VII, while Ritz instituted the impeccable service, attention to detail and creativity that came to be the hallmark of the hotel.