The superluxe, Grade II-listed Savoy reopened after more than £100m of renovations in October 2010 – the numerous delays testimony to the difficulty of bringing a listed building, loved by generations of visitors for its discreet mix of Edwardian neo-classical 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’s company. Traditionalists can relax: the American Bar remains unchanged.