The super-luxe, Grade II-listed Savoy reopened after more than £100m of renovations in 2010 – the numerous delays testimony to the difficulty of bringing a listed building, loved by generations of visitors for its discreet mix of Edwardian neoclassical and art deco, up to scratch as a modern luxury hotel. Built in 1889 to put up theatregoers from Richard D’Oyly Carte’s Gilbert & Sullivan shows, the Savoy is the hotel from which Monet painted the Thames, where Vivien Leigh met Laurence Olivier, where Londoners learned to love the martini.
The famous cul-de-sac at the front entrance now has a garden of new topiary and centrepiece Lalique crystal fountain, but the welcome begins before you arrive with a phone call to ascertain your particular requirements. There’s a new tearoom with glass-roofed conservatory; the leather counter of the new Beaufort champagne bar is set on a stage that once hosted big bands for dinner dances; and the Savoy Grill is again under the control of Gordon Ramsay. Highlight of the fitness and beauty centre is a pool in its own atrium, with a jet-stream for those who choose to swim against the current. Traditionalists can relax, though: the American Bar remains unchanged.