For the last night of our trip, I chose to stay at The Savoy, for a bit of London history, luxury, and quite simply to satiate my curiosity about a hotel I have long known about and wanted to peek inside. 🙂
Opening its doors for the first time in 1889, The Savoy was the first purpose-built deluxe hotel in London which raised the bar for luxury, service and comfort for its guests. As many books have shared over the years, the stories of the glamourous, the wealthy, the politician, even the chef, have often involved The Savoy hotel in London, situated in proximity to The Thames River in the heart of the city.
Interestingly enough, it was a stay at an American hotel that inspired Richard D’Oyly Carte to build The Savoy as the luxury hotel it was to be. Adopting new technologies as the American hotels had in 1870s and early 1880s, he wisely sought to bring such capabilities to London in his new hotel.
Installing electric lights throughout the building, electric lifts, and bathrooms in most of the lavishly furnished rooms making available constant hot and cold running water, The Savoy was ahead of its time and its competition. And it was Carte who hired César Ritz as manager and Auguste Escoffier as chef de cuisine; between the two, “they established an unprecedented standard of quality in hotel service, entertainment and elegant dining, attracting royalty and other rich and powerful guests and diners”. A couple of years ago, I read this book, Ritz & Escoffier: The Hotelier, The Chef & The Rise of The Leisure Class and found it fascinating. Particularly from the point of view of Escoffier’s journey, but also as the hotelier César Ritz. If you enjoy history, Britain and France, revolving around luxury, travel and food, you will enjoy this book.
The pair of men, both talented in their craft, were partnered at The Savoy when it opened in 1889, and this book tells the story of how they changed forever how Britain and the world engaged with each other.
Prior to becoming The Savoy hotel in 1889, the location had been many things, a hospital for nearly two centuries, a prison, suffered a destructive fire, and then purchased in 1880 by Carte who wished to turn it into a building to host operas. As well, many a well-known guest over the now more than century of being The Savoy hotel has stayed – from Claude Monet who painted the Charring Cross and Waterloo Bridges seen from his hotel window (although whether or not he stayed at the hotel is debated – see this post), WWII war leaders such as Winston Churchill visited and met in The Savoy during wartime, Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, many monarchs from around the world including the future King Edward I (Queen Victoria’s son), Bob Dylan (and filmed one of his music videos at the hotel as well), Louis Armstrong, Marilyn Monroe, and the list goes on and on.
As well many films have captured scenes in the hotel, and while we were there we ran into a couple of the film crew’s ‘grunts’ who told us that Halle Berry and Mark Wahlberg were currently there filming scenes at night (we did not see them). We’ll see in a couple years time if that is the case. 🙂 But more notably, the finale of Notting Hill was filmed at The Savoy with Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant.
Often described or called “London’s most famous hotel”, The Savoy has 267 guest rooms, and in the most prestigious rooms, offers panoramic views of the River Thames across Savoy Place and the Thames Embankment. And now to our stay this past April.
Turning into The Savoy Court, the turnabout circle where guests are dropped off and picked up, you instantly know where you are. And there is no mistaking the twin revolving doors that sweep you into the foyer.
We booked a single room with two twin beds, and the luxury of the linens, including the German down pillows provided one of the sweetest nights of sleep I had during our entire trip (and that was tough competition as the previous accommodations were lovely).
We arrived a few hours before our check-in time, but not to worry. They took our luggage and welcomed us into The Reading Room, just off the main entrance, solely for hotel guests. The art deco furniture paired with the quiet space away from the entrance invited you to relax, and you also had complimentary service and waitstaff offering biscuits, drinks and well, comfort. My mom settled in while I ventured to New Oxford to visit the umbrella shop I will write about later this week to pick up one of their foldable umbrellas – James Smith & Sons.
In no time however, The Savoy had our room prepared, well before our stated check-in time, and our luggage was waiting for us in the room while a host took us up to our room sharing with us all of the directions and places to go about the hotel and for what meal, etc..
Oh! While we waited in The Reading Room, the ladies’ and men’s rooms near The Thames room were a sight to see (pictures included below). The foyer leading into The Thames Room includes a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, and as we were staying at The Savoy just two days after Easter, this oversized chocolate egg was decorating the foyer. It is real chocolate. Oh my goodness.
While we didn’t have the opportunity to enjoy Afternoon Tea in The Thames Room (see below) as we had schedule for Easter Afternoon Tea at Claridges, and only had time to enjoy one Afternoon Tea while in London, we did have the opportunity to have breakfast in The Thames Room. The space is quite magnificent with the stained glass dome ceiling, the brilliant white walls and plush furniture paired with the high quality service and seasonal fare and menu offerings.
Upon arriving and settling into our room, we had an interior facing room which I expected. Staying at The Savoy is a luxury in and of itself, which is why we only booked one room, whereas we each had our own rooms at all of the previous accommodations during our trip. However, it was a luxurious room. In fact, our room had American outlets. No need for adapters. Yep, they thought of everything, knowing from where we were traveling.
The walls were papered in grasscloth. Loved this detail, which is, yep, a luxury. It added a texture and thus a warmth to the room even though cool tones are used that welcomed you to your space and asked you to relax and as the same time, erasing any gloom if it were gray or raining outside.
The television as you can see here, while we didn’t use it (except to watch the House of Parliament as on the day of our arrival to the hotel was the day the formal No Confidence letter was presented and the Prime Minister had to respond for hours to the MPs questions), welcomed us in tailored style.
The details – the lightswitches.
The bathroom included a full-length cast-iron tub that was 6-feet long. Oh. My. Goodness. I was in absolute bliss. A six-foot tub is unheard of, so I savored it upon preparing for our night out to the theatre.
An important detail to note: The height of the ceilings. They soared above us, making the room feel far larger than it actually was.
As well, as I have shared on IG Stories and on this week’s podcast episode (#329), the guest service and concierge was, well, they make sure you feel right at home. My ivory silk blazer had become covered in soot after an incident in The Tube a couple of days prior, so I asked if The Savoy could clean it for me as I imagined the best place to clean an item with soot is in a city that has probably seen this issue before (in other words, I wasn’t confident my dry cleaner in Bend would be able to get it out). They took my blazer without hesitation, and in 24-hours, before we grabbed our cab to head to the Heathrow, they gave me back my blazer, fully cleaned and only costing me £23.50. As well, since we as American citizens were required to show a negative Covid test, The Savoy staff is certified to monitor and administer both types of tests for their guests. So we tended to that after paying £50/each for our tests, which were negative, easing our minds that we would be able to fly home the next day without a delay.
Interior Rooms Throughout The Savoy
My mother sitting in the foyer just in front of the doors (back to the right) that lead to The Reading Room.
The back of the giant chocolate Easter egg.
The twin elevators just near the lobby.
The Thames Room
The Savoy‘s location makes it an ideal accommodation to stay if you too enjoy attending the West End’s many theatre performances. As I will share later this week, we had tickets to go watch Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, which was only a couple of blocks away, a 7-10 minute walk.
While we may have only stayed one night, it was a most wonderful night and occasion. And pairing our stay with a night at the theatre, well, that was just perfect.
Captured while I waited for my silk blazer from the dry cleaners and for our taxi.
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26 thoughts on “Staying at The Savoy in London”
I read a novel last year titled The Girl From the Savoy. It was fun reading about your stay and seeing all of the photos. What great memories for you and your mom.
I remember walking past The Savoy on our trip to London in 2016 and marveling at it from the street. I couldn’t even imagine what might be inside. Thank you for satisfying my curiosity as I will have to put this on my bucket list. We also went in April (2016) and enjoyed Easter service at Westminster Abbey. As I had my children with me we went to see The Lion King later that evening. Listening to your podcast episode this morning brought back many wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing your time in England.
What lovely photos to see the inside and the room. My go to hotel for London is the Strand which is literally opposite the Savoy. I can pop over the road for a pre or post theatre drink and then back across the road to sleep! I will have to book the Savoy sometime for a special treat.
One word …wow! What an experience.
The book The Ritz & Escoffier is an excellent book- and I love all your photos. I’ve never stayed at the Savoy, so it was especially lovely to “pretend” I was there along with you and your mother. How very special! Thank you!!
Wonderful pictures. I felt transported back in time. What is the little stand used for inside the elevator?
Shannon, your pictures are absolutely lovely! What a magnificent hotel! I am so glad you had a lovely experience.
What a special treat for your Mom’s first visit to London s a real luxurious treat staying at the Savoy. Your photos are lovely. We always stayed there for two nights and went to the Savoy theatre to celebrate our wedding anniversary each year. It oozes class.
There is a Savoy documentary series 2020 available on Prime Amazon, Apple TV and the ITV hub. Fascinating viewing. Kameela xx
How lovely Kameela , Shannon’s photographs must have brought back many happy memories for you .
I haven’t yet stayed at the Savoy, ( maybe I should put it on my bucket list ? ) but I have been to the Savoy Theatre….It was a long time ago, but I saw Patricia Routledge in an Oscar Wilde play ………marvellous !
x Anne x
Thanks for the tip on the Savoy series, Kameela, I must check this out! And I hope you are having a fabulous time on your trip! XX Rona
So lovely to be able to share your experience through your photographs Shannon , thankyou.
To be able to stay at the Savoy is certainly a special experience , and I am so pleased that you and your Mom enjoyed it so much ………and also that you were able to get your beautiful cream jacket cleaned ?
Thank you for sharing your experiences of your trip on your British Week posts .
x Anne x
Thank you for sharing your experience. I enjoyed all the photos. Can you please explain the purpose of the wooden box/stand in the elevator?
YES! I wondered about that also.
What a dream come to true to be able to stay here Shannon! Thank you for sharing
Wow, gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous, thank you for the entrancing photos, Shannon. And I just took a listen to the “Ritz and Escoffier” book, fascinating indeed! XO Rona
Wonderful pictures Shannon! I felt transported back in time. What is the little stand used for inside the elevator?
Ah! At first I didn’t know what you were talking about, but yes, this is The Savoy’s chic way of making available Purel. 🙂
Once again Shannon you are giving me so many wonderful ideas for my next trip to England. What a great idea to stay some place extra special even if for one night!
Enjoying all of British week, thank you for sharing all of this beauty, fun and adventure with our community.
Adding this beautiful hotel to my wishlist for my future trip to the UK as well adding “Ritz and Escoffier” to my library request list – thank you for sharing all of this with us and giving us such lovely ideas!
Putting a stay here in the budget for the next trip to London!
What a magnificent hotel! Your photos and stories are a delight, especially for someone who has not had the chance to travel to England. Someday! Until then, I truly appreciate your willingness to share your special trip with all of us!
How wonderful and classy! I’m so glad you gave yourselves such an experience =)!
Thank you so much for giving us a sneak peak at such a luxurious hotel as The Savoy. Spending a night there would be a dream come true as I have watched Inside The Savoy Hotel, narrated by Hugh Bonneville on YouTube and immediately fell in love. I found the history of prior establishments located in the building quite fascinating.
Thank you, as always, for sharing your adventures with us.
I am enjoying these travelogue posts so much, Shannon — I can’t thank you enough for the effort you’ve been putting in on the descriptions & details & little “side stories” that add so much. I’ve had a somewhat trying April & early May, to put it mildly, & can’t tell you what a treat it is to sit down with a pot of tea & one of your posts, especially the ones filled with your magnificent photos, & just escape for a few minutes. Seriously, thank you!
I can attest to Kameela’s post above that the series shown on ITV (Inside the Savoy – I think) was truly entertaining and interesting. One thing I noted and really liked is that when you become a member of staff at the Savoy they allow you to experience a night at the hotel as a guest. I think it is so the staff then know the comfort and standards guests enjoy when staying, but wow what a treat!
Really enjoyed this post Shannon, I hope I get to stay there one day!
You had me at German down pillows. This is such a beautiful hotel, I love the rich green details. Thank you for including the chocolate egg photo also. Its a piece of artwork. I’m glad you and your mom were able to have this experience together.