The Savoy: Ultimate Honeymoon Hotel

30 September 2011

Once you've chosen the dress, the flowers, the honeymoon destination, the church, there's still one sartorial dilemma left: where to spend your wedding night.

A very special occasion requires a very special hotel and getting married is maybe the most special occasion of all. Of course, in London there are cool hotels and sexy hotels and chic hotels but your wedding calls for something beyond all of that: it calls for the ultimate hotel, one that will still be there when you want to celebrate being together for a hundred years, one that is as traditional as the institution of marriage itself, but as luxurious and extravagant as you can possibly manage.

And for that, it's hard to beat The Savoy. The Savoy is the Rolls Royce of hotels. The front facade even resembles a Rolls Royce - with its gleaming silver canopy, topped with a golden figurine. It may be situated in central London, just off The Strand, but the hotel still boasts a turning circle driveway, (with enormous crystal fountain centrepiece). Savoy Place is the only street in England where cars and taxis are required to drive on the right. The right hand side of the hotel's courtyard is the location of The Savoy Theatre, built by impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte to stage Gilbert and Sullivan' s operas. The stars needed to be dropped at the theatre door, hence the quirky adjustment to the highway code.

It's a great introduction to the fact that The Savoy does things differently. Newly-wed, hours earlier, we arrived in a chauffeur-driven car, still in our wedding gear. A  top-hatted doorman opened my door, congratulating me on our wedding. Of course, the outfits were a bit of a clue, but when he followed that with 'Welcome to The Savoy, Mrs Brimmer.' I was suitably impressed - I'm not naive enough to believe that we were the only bride and groom arriving at the hotel that Saturday night. The Savoy is a first class experience all the way.

Through the revolving doors into the hotel, following in the footsteps of Hollywood and fashion royalty: Fred Astaire danced on the roof with his sister in 1923, Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe were here for the press conference for the Prince and Showgirl in 1956, Audrey Hepburn, Josephine Baker, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Coco Chanel, Christian Dior were all guests. There's so much history that the hotel proudly displays a permanent, but ever-changing archive of memorabilia; black and white photographs of guests in the American Bar or Savoy Grill, signed bills, guestbook entries, letters to the hotel.

Built in 1889 on the site of the Savoy Palace, but updated in the 1920's and 30's, the hotel is a showcase of roaring Art Deco style. The groom, who told anyone who would listen that his 'style icon' for the wedding was Hercule Poirot (seriously, I'm not making this up), was utterly enchanted by every Deco detail; the striped black and silver pillars, the black and white chequerboard marble floor, the tortoiseshell and gold leaf wall-panelling, the minimalist light fittings, and the Oriental, red-lacquered lifts.

Top tip: the best room in the hotel is not the penthouse suite, it's the River View Junior Suite; the only room with a balcony; the Thames-front hotel offers views over Waterloo bridge to a Monet-esque portrait of the houses of Parliament and beyond. Big Ben chimed 11 o'clock just as we arrived. It was like a fairy tale version of London.

The hotel reopened last year after a multi-million pound facelift by the American Fairmont group. The original features have been carefully preserved, with the added bonus of marshmallowly million-thread count bedlinen and mattresses to put you into a coma, plus a razor-sharp sound system and of course, the traditional free-standing roll-top bath, now minus the temperamental plumbing. But the hotel has always been a step ahead; the first hotel with air conditioning, electric lights, and electric lifts, it also pioneered 24-hour room service and telephones in every bathroom.

The Savoy's other claim to fame? It literally wrote the cocktail rule book. Back in 1930, Harry Craddock, the legendary Savoy bartender at the hotel's iconic American Bar wrote down the recipes for his classic cocktails in The Savoy Cocktail Book. Still in print today, it has become the standard text for barmen the world over. Copies of the 1930s original, with its beautiful Art Deco illustrations, are like gold dust and sell for thousands on eBay. Raiding the minibar in the hopes of finding a suitable souvenir, we debated over a few knick-knacks - Savoy-hotel-shaped box of fudge? Savoy tea? - before finally settling on the perfect object to keep forever: an elegantly curved sterling silver cocktail shaker, with the hotel's name in Poirot-esque font.

Of course, we were late for checking out. Still devouring a best-ever English Breakfast in our sumptuous Savoy robes and slippers, taking it in turns to wear the groom's top hat (think: Russell Brand as Arthur), and drinking even more champagne (very Arthur), we suddenly realised it was already midday. Semi-panic-stricken, the groom called down to reception to find out about check-out time. A polite but appalled voice at the other end of the line reassured him "please, Mr Brimmer, that's not how we do things at The Savoy, you're our guest, take your time..."

Yes, they do things differently at The Savoy, and that is a very special thing...

http://www.fairmont.com/savoy | +44 (0)207 420 2300 | or email savoy.reservations@fairmont.com

- Mrs Brimmer

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