As my job frequently takes me away from England, on the rare occasions I make it home, I like to be extremely English. And you can’t get more English than at The Savoy Hotel in London!
Being English includes, but is not limited to, drinking nothing but tea before five pm, drinking nothing but gin and tonic after five pm and shouting “What ho!” at other passing gentlemen in the street whilst raising my hat in a cheery greeting style.
I may, on occasion, also partake in other English sports like attempting to understand the cricket, passing the time of day talking about the weather and pretending we still run an Empire that covers one-fifth of the globe.
Now, in this modern internet age, where people are more interested in Love Island than doing things properly, such old-fashioned behaviour could probably result in you being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.
It would find you being put in a room with nice, soft walls and a lack of sharp edges – except in the Savoy Hotel, London.
The history, the ambience and the opulence permeate through every inch of this wonderful establishment and the gloriously heady days of the 1920s are recreated in grand art deco style.
I’d arranged to take my beloved Wife for a weekend in London, and on a whim, I decided to try out a luxury hotel in London.
The Savoy Hotel, London
Everything about the experience, from the extremely simple-to-use website to your deliciously presented final bill screams luxurious elegance.
As I strolled through the cool and finely marbled entrance hall of the Savoy hotel, my shoes ringing out confidently as they struck the floor, I was greeted by one of the Reception Team who ushered me straight to my room.
Not for the Savoy the seedy routine of swiping cards and the feeling of hostility that I would run off with the bath towels in the dead of night that some hotels seem to give off – at the Savoy hotel, right from the off, they treat you like a real person.
Sadly, I am not that respectable, so in order to fit in, I decided to pretend I was James Bond.
I was in their standard (cough – cheapest) room on the top floor, overlooking the courtyard. It offered a lovely partial view of the City, the beating heart of the United Kingdom, and having spent a considerable period of time abroad, I was slightly giddy at the sight and got slightly excited.
Then I remembered I was British and got a hold of myself in case I broke out in a foreign display of excitement, like smiling, clapping, or God forbid, taking a picture and uploading it to Facebook.
My Wife was extremely impressed with the quality of the room and made “oooo” and “aaaah” noises at the thread count in the sheets, the standard of bathroom fittings and other such things that are a mystery to us men.
I, for my money, was a lot more interested in the bar and I had heard a rumour of a steak earlier that day that I was keen to follow up on.
Food and Drink at The Savoy Hotel
So downstairs we went for a couple of drinks in the American Bar to sharpen our appetites before dinner.
The America Bar is a legendary bar, and rightly so.
Immaculate white-coated bar staff float effortlessly around a gloriously deco area filled with a stunning bar display, intimate nooks and crannies and somewhere, in the background a piano player was strumming out some gentle tunes to soothe some frazzled London souls.
As it was a hot summer evening, we opted to try a number of cocktails, which contained an alluring amount of alcohol.
I am not sure how much alcohol it contained, but after a couple of those I certainly loved The Savoy a little more than before. In fact, now I come to think of it, I loved EVERYONE a little more after a few of these delicious and artfully mixed cocktails.
Feeling much better, we moved to The Savoy Grill where I had probably the most delicious fillet steak I had eaten in a long time, topped off with a bottle of magnificent red.
Of course, I had the steak – it’s the Grill! The Grill, like the American Bar, is also a British Institution, and rightly so.
Like the food, it’s a strongly decorated yet graceful area to eat. The primary reason I married Mrs B was, aside from her alluringly good looks, it was her taste in food. Unlike some, she is also not afraid of a good steak, ideally topped with crème fraiche and washed down with something pink and sparkling.
For those of you who fancy something different, there’s an alluring Lobster Thermidor, a mushroom linguine which smelled amazing as it wafted past and I also saw a duck a l’orange being brought out that would make even the most committed vegetarian question their previous life choices.
Wine wise, as is tradition with Mrs B and I, was an Argentinean Malbec which was more punch than ten rounds with Mike Tyson and a fuller body than Japan’s No 1 Sumo wrestler – no complaints on that score, but there’s a simple bewildering selection of drinks for all tastes as well as a funky cocktail menu.
Feeling quite full I was happy to stagger as far as the American Bar again for a small nightcap.
Some old classic tunes were being belted out on the bar piano, which whilst pleasant, was certainly not intrusive or annoying and you could easily hold a civilised conversation should you wish. You could also simply relax and enjoy the excellent service and ambience.
Before I knew it, I was waking up the following morning and I clearly must have not drunk enough the night before as I had a rather dry mouth and a headache.
Our room at The Savoy Hotel
Now, if like me, you appreciate a decent shower to return to the land of the living, you will not be disappointed by the ablutions in The Savoy.
There are waterproof speakers in the bathroom which pipe through music of your choice so I opted for a little Radio Four as I returned to the land of the living under the shower head.
Normally I have a quick shower and feel human pretty swiftly. However, it was either the delicious cocktails the night before, or the sheer magnificence of the shower, but either way I spent an awfully long time letting the warm water cascade down my back.
Either way, both options speak very highly of The Savoy experience.
But here’s the thing – depending on your tastes, the interiors in the standard are actually rather nice – tasteful dark wood and cool black tops make for a nice backdrop than some of the other, more expensive, rooms in my humble option.
If you’re a PG Wodehouse reader, you’ll understand if I say they’re very “Bertie Wooster” in terms of mood, whereas the other rooms are a little more “Great Aunt Agatha”. You can almost feel Jeeves lurking behind the door, ready to strike with a freshly mixed cocktail if you thought you needed one.
The beds are divine in the most literal sense of the world and I’ve never slept as deeply or as well as I did in that bed – but then, there were some cocktails involved, I guess.
Every little need is catered for and even though I left the Army some years before, I couldn’t resist taking the complimentary sewing kit – you know, just in case I need to sew up a button in a battlefield emergency.
The Savoy Spa
Of course, I’d ticked off my main three things to do in the Savoy in short order – eat a big steak, drink a tasty cocktail, and have a big old sleep – so now Mrs B wanted to take a look at the Savoy Spa.
Now, I’m not a spa person – I’m naturally quite good-looking – but I generously make a point of never judging those who wish to refresh themselves in such a manner, and who am I to deny Mrs B the small pleasures?
I’ll be honest, the Savoy Spa made me rethink my stance on Spas – my goodness what a place! Again, you are almost visually mugged by the delightful ambience and décor in the atrium when you enter – at this stage of your Savoy experience, you can feel not only James Bond and Bertie Wooster following you around the 1920s, but by the time you get to the spa you’re being followed by Hercule Poirot, hot on the trail of a murder most foul in the drawing room.
White dressing gown-clad people hover around the pool, the staff are incredibly polite and welcoming and you get the feeling they’d take it really personally if you didn’t leave the spa feeling 200% better as a person.
The signature Savoy Spa treatment involves a complete head-to-toe massage treatment and facial as well as an array of treatments for pretty much anything you can think of – but do book early as the slots can fill up fast. Given how wonderful the experience is, I am not surprised!
The Savoy Hotel Location
The Savoy is perfectly located in London, ideally for walking to the Theatre district in London, and only a short hop to Convent Garden, Trafalgar Square and the London Eye.
If you’re staying for business, the City is about a ten-minute cab away and served well by the fleet of cabs that stand outside and can be hailed for you by the doormen in the wink of an eye.
Fun fact, the road into the Savoy is one of the only roads in the UK where you have to drive on the right – local legend suggests this was to allow cab passengers to disembark easily into the hotel, but the real message here is, if you’re leaving the hotel after a couple of drinks, please do look both ways in case you are surprisingly run over by a cab coming the wrong, right way to the Savoy.
It was with some (a lot) of regret that I checked out the next day.
The final bill was presented on exquisitely designed stationery which made it feel like the management genuinely regretted being impertinent enough to ask for something as common as money, and I, for my part, certainly felt that the experience was ridiculously cheap for the standard of service I had received.
As I was cast out into the cold, foggy London day, I felt like Adam cast out of the Garden of Eden, or Casanova cast from Venice.
It took all my British reserve and self-control not to collapse weeping to the floor and hold onto the leg of the porter and beg to be allowed to stay just five more minutes in the wonderful ambience of one of the best hotels in london, but sadly real life intervened.
Yes, there are lots of other places to stay in London which cost a lot less. If you wish to do this you are of course entirely at liberty to do so. But other hotels make you feel like a cash cow. The Savoy makes you feel like an actual guest.
If you wish to experience the best of British – manners, excellent service and some top-hole cocktails – the characteristics that made Great Britain great – then you should stay at The Savoy Hotel.
I shall certainly stay there every time I am in London in the future.
If you see me, I will be the one at the bar drinking cocktails proclaiming my love for you. Please don’t blame me, it’s just the cocktails are really, REALLY tasty.
See you there.