The Savoy is closing its doors later this month to undergo a £100 million restoration programme that will see the refurbishment of all guest rooms, public areas, restaurants and The Savoy Court, the cul-de-sac entrance off the Strand and the introduction of new guest services.
The extensive 16-month project - one of the largest hotel restorations in the history of London, is being managed by designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, best known for his work with the Four Seasons George V in Paris and L’Hermitage in Monaco, and is expected to conclude in May 2009.
Rochon’s design merges two styles in keeping with Savoy tradition which will dominate The Savoy’s interior décor - an Edwardian-inspired, classic English look, harking back to the hotel’s late 19th century origins, and the 1930s Art Deco influence that followed. His preference for discreet, neutral tones and use of flattering light will noticeably brighten and lift The Savoy’s façade and interiors.
In preparation, The Savoy is holding a three-day auction on December 18-20 which has already sparked huge interest. Overseen by Bonhams, it will give members of the public the opportunity to purchase items from the hotel’s past. Many historic and unique pieces will be retained for re-use in the new decorative schemes but others are now surplus to requirements. The 3,000 lots feature lighting, mirrors, silverware, bedroom furniture and tableware, as well as star items such as the magnificent chandeliers from The Thames Foyer, a superb Edwardian satinwood and rosewood banded bookcase from the fourth floor and the massive mahogany screen by David Linley from the Front Hall.
A portion of the proceeds from the auction will go to the Farms for City Children charity. The FFCC, founded by well-known children’s author and former Savoy writer-in-residence Michael Morpurgo, is dedicated to relieving the poverty experience of urban children by inviting them to farms in Devon, Wales and Gloucestershire.
The restoration plan includes the addition of a sumptuous new Royal Suite and a new champagne bar, The Beaufort, adjoining the Thames Foyer. The River Restaurant will be transformed from a breakfast and Sunday brunch venue to fine dining from early morning to post-theatre. Afternoon tea, a tradition long enjoyed at The Savoy, will continue in the Foyer but the addition of a specially built conservatory, strikingly rendered in silver, will provide a new talking point.
The hotel opened in 1889 as the brainchild of theatrical impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte and has many stories it could tell. It has always attracted a glittering clientele throughout its history, from royalty to film stars and politicians, with guests ranging from Frank Sinatra to Winston Churchill, Coco Chanel and Alice Cooper. The Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret were frequent visitors, Elizabeth Taylor chose the hotel for her first and second honeymoons, while Marilyn Monroe shocked everyone by appearing at a press conference with Laurence Olivier in a dress with just a black net midriff section. Oscar Wilde stayed for a while with Lord Alfred Douglas and the glorious views of the Thames from the Savoy windows were immortalised by Monet.