Sunday, 2 January 2011

The "rebirth" of the Savoy ... dilemma between "shabby chic"authenticity or "posh" glossy rebirth ...

The Savoy hotel, London, reopens after £220 million restoration
The Savoy hotel in London finally reopened on Sunday after three years
Victoria Mather celebrates. in The Telegraph

Hello Dolly! Or should that be Hello D'Oyly? Like Dolly Levi in the musical, The Savoy Hotel, built by Richard D'Oyly Carte in 1889, is back where it belongs. To quote the musical's hit song growled by Louis Armstrong, a Savoy guest, it's "lookin' swell… still glowin', still crowin', still goin' strong". Which is a relief because if a £220 million facelift did not result in some swell glowing there's no hope for anyone.

The Savoy is a hotel of firsts. It was the first luxury hotel in Britain, the first to have electricity, electric lifts (known as "ascending rooms"), air-conditioning, 24-hour room service, private bathrooms, and constant hot and cold running water. This must have been a marvel to anyone accustomed to the two inches of lukewarm brown water de rigueur in the grand English country house.

The Savoy was ruled with a rod of iron by the world's first famous general manager, Cesar Ritz, and the kitchens run by the first celebrity chef, Auguste Escoffier. The Savoy had the first serviced apartments and Sarah Bernhardt moved in; in 1937, King George VI became the first reigning monarch to dine in – shock, horror! – a hotel when he attended a private dinner at The Savoy; his daughter, Princess Elizabeth, was first seen in public with Prince Philip at a wedding reception in the hotel in 1946. Vivien Leigh met her future husband, Laurence Olivier, in The Savoy's lobby.

Ah, the lobby. Very big. I well remember arriving there when I was very small, a child of 10, having run away from school. The food at the convent was dreadful and the beds uncomfortable, so what else was a girl to do? My godfather lived at The Savoy and gave me egg sandwiches, cake, ice cream, a talking-to and had me taken back to school. It was the first and last time I ran away, but I always knew The Savoy was there. Just in case. Or just in cake.

The miracle that Richard D'Oyly Carte wrought at the turn of the 20th century was to make hotels acceptable to the aristocracy. Once the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) patronised the joint, even dukes' daughters, unaccustomed as they were, could be seen dining in public for the first time at the hotel.

Whizz forward through the years (jazz and The Savoy's first Art Deco refurb were soulmates) and it was a power house of the upper classes, Hollywood and politics. Winston Churchill often took his entire cabinet to lunch at The Savoy. The Savoy was the equator of planet London, the middle of the urbane world where Westminster, Fleet Street and the City collided and colluded in the Savoy Grill.

So it will be again. Although for upper classes now you can interpolate celebrity classes – Cheryl Cole will no doubt be patronising the newly opened Savoy any moment. This hotel has returned to a glamour even bigger than hers. The new Savoy has the X factor.

One dreaded it would be too glitzy, the owner being Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, and the perception of Arab taste being gold taps. One dreaded that it would look exactly like the Four Seasons George V in Paris, the designer being the same, Pierre-Yves Rochon. The George V is divine, exquisite but, like martinis, you do not need two of them. One dreaded management by Fairmont, a hotel group more flash than dash.

One dreaded, well, that it would not be The Savoy any more, the place where my father proposed to my mother. The place where they spent much of the war because mummy thought the air raid shelters the smartest, if sufficiently inconvenienced by the Hun to abandon the American Bar.

Well, The Savoy is still The Savoy, only better. It hasn't just been surgically enhanced, or recreated as a Disney Savoy, it's had its soul shot with adrenalin and, like Dolly, will be high-stepping to applause.

The Beaufort Bar, built on the hotel's original cabaret stage where George Gershwin first played Rhapsody in Blue, all jet-black and burnished gold (but in a good way), is going to be the hottest watering hole in town. There will be cabaret – Nicky Haslam singing Cole Porter and John Standing singing Noël Coward – and it will be New York's Café Carlyle reinvented in London. Such a shame Eartha Kitt, who performed at The Savoy, cannot do a reprise. So tiresome being dead.

The American Bar is the American Bar. This is like a blissful old film you watch on the television on a rainy afternoon that's suddenly gone 3D. The River Room has definitely gone glam. Last time I was there was for breakfast before the Countryside March, due to start outside, when chaps in tweed were demanding eggs, bacon, black pudding, sausage, some strong coffee and champagne.

The waiter looked astounded: "Egg? Bacon? Black yer-what?" One knew the forces of darkness were closing in when a waiter at The Savoy didn't know the breakfast essentials or that Nicholas Soames (next door table) could probably eat him for breakfast.

Now there's a leopardette carpet, which sounds ghastly but works, and the tables with the river view will be the ones to pull. A nifty little dining room overlooking the river is half-in, half-out of the restaurant and so perfect for special celebrations because you get all the restaurant buzz with a sense of privacy. If my parents and my godfather were still alive I'd take them there this minute.

It would be a marvellous party for ghosts: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Ivor Novello, Coco Chanel, Humphrey Bogart, Marlene Dietrich, Oscar Wilde (who conducted his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas here). Of all the places in all the world to play imaginary dinner parties, this is it.

Claude Monet and James Whistler, who both painted views of the Thames from their rooms, would not know them now. Much of the £220 million went on putting the bathrooms, stuck on the outside between the rooms and the view, to the back. These are calm rooms, you are the personality, not the room.

However, I do regret that original art was not used. The watercolours and prints, although pleasant, are anodyne and the personality of the hotel is so vibrant it could also be an art gallery for young London artists – it is an exciting new development in hotels worldwide.

When The Savoy closed in 2007 there were more people on The Strand sleeping outside it on the pavement than within it on its beds. Even the most hard-hearted brute of a millionaire found it a bit rich stepping over the homeless. Also the tea had become doily rather than D'Oyly or Dolly. The Savoy was deadbeat, whereas 250ft away, One Aldwych was upbeat, bar throbbing, pre-theatre supper humming, the underwater pool rippling to the sound of music. What a difference a century makes.

After the hotel closed there followed a nightmare of wiring and plumbing, all needing a complete strip-out. The dilapidation was hideous, the flooring on the balconies shot, the internal walls under the immortal Art Deco sign "The Savoy" were crumbling. Asbestos sprang out saying "Hellloo!" Anyone who has lived with the builders must know what general manager Kiaran MacDonald has been through. "I will never, ever do a home extension," he says.

Yet you would never know any of the angst. A firm line has been drawn between the Edwardian and the Art Deco. Don't worry, just fight, empty your bank account to have a river view suite. The bedrooms no longer have scorched lampshades, the Royal Suite has a ventilated cupboard for shoes, in case sir's Lobbs get a bit whiffy.

The Royal Suite was the only one that I felt pandered to oligarchs and sheikhs. It is full-on, rather than gentle, but then it will be used for film junkets and Gemma Arterton giving interviews to the Daily Mail. Such is profitable hotel life now.

When I got married and we went on our honeymoon, our flight on Air India was delayed for eight hours so my husband said firmly at Heathrow: "You will give us a car to take us to The Savoy", and they did, and we spent the day in gentleness, delicious breakfast and glamour.

Those, weirdly, are the ritziest words I have heard my husband say during our 23 years of married life. When we reach our 25th anniversary I would like to give a Gondola Party at The Savoy similar to the one American millionaire George A Kessler gave in 1905: the central courtyard was flooded, guests dined on a gondola, Caruso sang and a baby elephant brought in a 5ft-high birthday cake.

I'm back to The Savoy, a saviour of The Strand I suspect now. The lobby is bigger and grander, and JUST THE SAME. You check in in an adorable drawing room or in the privacy of your own suite. It has a fireplace, it is English. You could not be anywhere else but The Savoy.

Thank God. Let's all sing: "Dolly'll, never go away again."


The Savoy Hotel is a hotel located on the Strand, in the City of Westminster in central London. Built by impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte with profits from his Gilbert and Sullivan operas, the hotel opened on 6 August 1889. It was the first in the Savoy group of hotels and restaurants owned by Carte's family for over a century. It was also the first luxury hotel in Britain, introducing electric lights throughout the hotel, electric lifts, bathrooms inside most of the lavishly furnished rooms, constant hot and cold running water and many other innovations. Carte hired manager César Ritz and French chef Auguste Escoffier, who established an unprecedented standard of quality in hotel service, entertainment and elegant dining, attracting royalty and other wealthy guests and diners. Winston Churchill frequently took his cabinet to lunch at the hotel.

The hotel became Carte's most successful venture. Its bands, Savoy Orpheans and the Savoy Havana Band, became famous, and other entertainers (who were also often guests) included George Gershwin, Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and Noël Coward. Famous guests have included Edward VII, Enrico Caruso, Charlie Chaplin, Harry Truman, Judy Garland, Babe Ruth, Laurence Olivier, Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, The Beatles and numerous others.

The hotel is now managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. It has been called "London's most famous hotel" and remains one of London's most prestigious and opulent hotels, with 268 rooms and panoramic views of the River Thames across Savoy Place and the Thames Embankment. The hotel closed in December 2007 for extensive renovations and reopened in October 2010. The cost of the renovations was £220 million, as structural problems delayed construction.
The House of Savoy was the ruling family of Savoy, descended from Humbert I, Count of Sabaudia (or "Maurienne"), who became count in 1032. The name Sabaudia evolved into "Savoy" (or "Savoie"). Count Peter (or Piers or Piero) of Savoy (d. 1268) was the maternal uncle of Eleanor of Provence, queen-consort of Henry III of England, and came with her to London.

The Savoy Palace
King Henry III made Peter Earl of Richmond and, in 1246, gave him the land between the Strand and the Thames where Peter built the Savoy Palace in 1263. On Peter's death, the Savoy was given to Edmund, 1st Earl of Lancaster, by his mother, Queen Eleanor. Edmund's great-granddaughter, Blanche, inherited the site. Her husband, John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of Lancaster, built a magnificent palace that was burned down by Wat Tyler's followers in the Peasants' Revolt of 1381.[4] King Richard II was still a child, and his uncle John of Gaunt was the power behind the throne and so a main target of the rebels.

In about 1505, Henry VII planned a great hospital for "pouer, nedie people", leaving money and instructions for it in his will. The hospital was built in the palace ruins and licensed in 1512. Drawings show that it was a magnificent building, with a dormitory, dining hall and three chapels. Henry VII's hospital lasted for two centuries but suffered from poor management. The sixteenth-century historian Stow noted that the hospital was being misused by "loiterers, vagabonds and strumpets". In 1702, the hospital was dissolved, and the hospital buildings were used for other purposes. Part of the old palace was used for a military prison in the eighteenth century. In the nineteenth century, the old hospital buildings were demolished and new buildings erected.

Richard D'Oyly CarteIn 1864, a fire burned everything except the stone walls and the Savoy Chapel, and the property sat empty until impresario Richard D'Oyly Carte bought it in 1880 to build the Savoy Theatre specifically for the production of the Gilbert and Sullivan operas, of which he was the producer.

The hotel's early yearsHaving seen the opulence of American hotels in his many visits to the U.S., Carte decided to build the first luxury hotel in Britain[4] to attract foreign clientele as well as British tourists who had travelled to London for theatre and sightseeing. Opened in 1889, the hotel was designed by architect Thomas Edward Collcutt, who also designed the Wigmore Hall. Carte chose the name "Savoy" to memorialize the history of the property. His investors in the venturewere, in addition to relatives, Carl Rosa, George Grossmith, Francois Cellier, George Edwardes, Augustus Harris and Fanny Ronalds. His friend, the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, was a shareholder and sat on the Board of Directors.

The hotel was built on a plot of land, next to the Savoy Theatre, that Carte originally purchased to house an electrical generator for the theatre (built in 1881), which was the first public building in the world to be lit entirely by electricity. The construction of the hotel took five years and was financed by the profits from the Gilbert and Sullivan partnership, particularly from producing The Mikado.[8] It was the first hotel lit by electric lights and the first with electric lifts. Other innovations included private, ensuite bathrooms in the majority of its 268 rooms, lavishly appointed in marble; constant hot and cold running water in each room, dinner dances, glazed brickwork designed to prevent London's smoke-laden air from spoiling the external walls, and its own Artesian well.

"Gondola" party, 1905In 1890, Carte hired the hotel's first famous manager, César Ritz, who later became the founder of The Ritz Hotel. Ritz brought in his partners, chef Auguste Escoffier, and maître d'hôtel Louis Echenard. Ritz put together what he described as "a little army of hotel men for the conquest of London", and Escoffier recruited French cooks and reorganised the kitchens. The Savoy under Ritz and his partners was an immediate success, attracting a distinguished and moneyed clientèle, headed by the Prince of Wales. Aristocratic women, hitherto unaccustomed to dining in public, were now "seen in full regalia in the Savoy dining and supper rooms".[10] The hotel was such a financial success that Richard D'Oyly Carte bought other luxury hotels.

In 1897, Ritz and his partners were dismissed from the Savoy. Ritz and Echenard were implicated in the disappearance of over £3400 (£290,000 as of 2011), of wine and spirits, and Escoffier had been receiving gifts from the Savoy's suppliers. The Savoy group purchased Simpson's-in-the-Strand in 1898. The next year, Carte chose M. Joseph, proprietor of the Marivaux Restaurant in Paris, as his next maître d'hôtel[14] and in 1900 hired George Reeves-Smith as the next managing director of the Savoy hotel group. Reeves-Smith served in this capacity until 1941.[15] The Cartes expanded the hotel in 1903–04, building new east and west wings and moving the main entrance to Savoy Court on the Strand. At that time, the hotel added Britain’s first serviced apartments, with access to all the hotel’s amenities. There were many famous residents, such as Sarah Bernhardt and SirThomas Dewar, some of whom lived there for decades.[16] Spectacular parties were held at the hotel. For example, in 1905 American millionaire George A. Kessler hosted a "Gondola Party" where the central courtyard was flooded to a depth of four feet and scenery erected around the walls. Costumed staff and guests recreated Venice. The two dozen guests dined in an enormous gondola. After dinner, Enrico Caruso sang, and a baby elephant brought in a five foot birthday cake.

Savoy Hotel, Strand entrance, 1911Richard's son, Rupert D'Oyly Carte, became chairman of the Savoy hotel group in 1903 and, after the death of his stepmother Helen Carte in 1913, the controlling stockholder. In 1919, he sold the Grand Hotel, Rome, which his father had acquired in 1896. In the 1920s he ensured that the Savoy continued to attract a fashionable clientèle by a continuous programme of modernisation and the introduction of dancing in the large restaurants. It also became the first hotel with air conditioning, steam-heating and soundproofed windows in the rooms, 24-hour room service and telephones in every bathroom. It also manufactured its own mattresses. One famous incident during Rupert's early years was the 1923 shooting, at the hotel, of a wealthy young Egyptian, Prince Fahmy Bey, by his French wife, Marguerite. The wife was acquitted of murder after it was revealed that her husband had treated her with extreme cruelty throughout the six-month marriage and had stated that he was going to kill her.

The hotel is famous for its entertainers. George Gershwin gave the British premiere of Rhapsody in Blue at the hotel in 1925, simultaneously broadcast by the BBC. The Savoy Orpheans and the Savoy Havana Band were described as "probably the best-known bands in Europe" and broadcast regularly from the hotel. Carte engaged Richard Collet to run the cabaret at the Savoy, which opened in April 1929.[22] Lena Horne and others made their British debuts there. Frank Sinatra played the piano and sang there. More recently, Amy Winehouse and Michael Ball entertained guests.

Hotel's letterhead of 1939Until the 1930s, the Savoy group had not thought it necessary to advertise, but Carte and Reeves-Smith changed their approach. "We are endeavouring by intensive propaganda work to get more customers; this work is going on in the U.S.A., in Canada, in the Argentine and in Europe." In 1937, George VI became the first reigning monarch to dine in any hotel when he attended a private dinner at the Savoy. In 1938 Hugh Wontner joined the Savoy hotel group as Reeves-Smith's assistant, and he became managing director in 1941.

During World War II, Wontner and his staff had to cope with bomb damage, food rationing, manpower shortage, and a serious decline in the number of foreign visitors. After the U.S. entered the war, business picked up as the Savoy Hotel became a favourite of American officers, diplomats, journalists and others.[27] The hotel became a meeting place for war leaders: Winston Churchill often took his cabinet to lunch at the hotel, Lord Mountbatten, Charles de Gaulle, Jan Masaryk and General Wavell were among the regular Grill Room diners, and the hotel's air-raid shelters were "the smartest in London".[26] Wontner co-operated fully with the government's wartime restrictions, helping to draw up an order imposing a five shilling limit on the price of a restaurant meal.
1946–2007 After WWII, the Savoy Group experienced a strike of its employees in support of a waiter dismissed from the hotel. The matter was judged so serious that the government set up a court of inquiry.[29] Nevertheless, the hotel also continued to attract celebrities. Princess Elizabeth was first seen in public with Prince Philip at a wedding reception at the Savoy in 1946.[6] The same year, Wontner set up "The Savoy Management Scheme", a school to train hoteliers, that was maintained for half a century.[9] The last major appointments of Rupert D'Oyly Carte's chairmanship were Wyllie Adolf Hofflin, general manager from 1941 to 1960, and August Laplanche, head chef from 1946 to 1965.[30] When Carte died in 1948, his daughter Bridget did not wish to become chairman, accepting instead the vice-chairman position,[31] and the Savoy board elected Wontner, the first person to combine the roles of chairman and managing director since the Savoy's founder, Richard D'Oyly Carte. Wontner remained managing director until 1979, chairman until 1984 and was president thereafter until 1992.

1989 planter in the embankment gardens between the hotel and the river honouring the Carte family and other persons historically important to the hotelTo mark Queen Elizabeth II's coronation on 2 June 1953, the hotel hosted the Savoy Coronation Ball, attended by 1,400 people, including Hollywood stars, royalty and other notables, who paid 12 guineas (£262 as of 2011), each.[32] Sixteen Yeomen Warders from the Tower of London lined the entrance staircase. The interior of the Savoy was decked in hundreds of yards of dove-grey material and heraldic banners in scarlet and blue and yellow. The design was supervised by Bridget D'Oyly Carte, whose fellow organisers included Cecil Beaton and Ninette de Valois. The cabaret was under the direction of Laurence Olivier, Noël Coward and John Mills.

Under Wontner's leadership, the Savoy appointed its first British head chef, Silvino Trompetto, who was maître-chef from 1965 to 1980.[17] Giles Shepard (1937–2006), succeeded Wontner as managing director from 1979 to 1994 and helped to defend the Savoy against Charles Forte's attempt to take control of the Board in the 1980s (although Forte gained a majority of the shares). He also introduced competitive salaries for the staff, increased international marketing of the hotel and led the Savoy's centenary celebrations. The Savoy continued to be a popular meeting place. In 2009, The National reported, "Some hacks were referred to as 'Savoy correspondents' because their job was to park themselves in the lobby and see who came and went. Le tout London was there it seemed, from film stars to businessmen to politicians, all staying or being entertained at the grand old fun palace on the Strand."

Bridget D'Oyly Carte died childless in 1985, bringing an end to her family line. In 1998, American private equity house Blackstone Group purchased the Savoy hotel group. They sold it in 2004 to Quinlan Private, who sold the Savoy Hotel and Simpson's-in-the-Strand eight months later, for an estimated £250 million, to Al-Waleed bin Talal to be managed by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts of Canada.Quinlan's group retained the rest of the hotels under the name Maybourne Hotel Group.
2010 refurbishmentIn December 2007, the hotel was closed to undergo a refit to a design by Pierre Yves Rochon (interiors), ReardonSmith Architects (structural and exteriors) and Buro Happold, the cost of which was originally budgeted at £100 million.[37] The same month, the hotel conducted a sale of 3,000 of its famous furnishings and memorabilia.[23][24] The projected reopening date was delayed more than a year to October 2010, as structural and systems problems delayed construction and led to increased costs. The building's façade required extensive stabilisation.[38] The cost of the renovations grew to £220 million.[39] The hotel's new energy-efficient design includes efficient lighting and a combined heat and power plant that is expected to reduce its reliance on the national electricity grid by approximately 50%, as well as programmes to reuse, recycle and turn some waste into biofuel for use at an English power plant.[40] "All paper is recycled, smart meters monitor and regulate heat and light usage, hybrid vehicles are included in the hotel's fleet for guest transfers, and all staff go through 'green training' during their induction."

The new design features a Thames foyer with a winter garden gazebo under a stained-glass cupola with natural light, which is the venue for late-night dining and the hotel's famous afternoon tea. The glass dome was covered during World War II and was never uncovered until the renovation. There is also a new teashop and patisserie called Savoy Tea and a glass-enclosed fitness gallery with pool, gym and spa. The new Beaufort Bar features an Art Deco interior of jet-black and gold, serves champagne and cocktails and offers nightly cabaret. The re-opened River Restaurant, facing the Thames, are both decorated in the art deco style. The American Bar appears nearly unchanged. The rooms have been modernised but decorated in period styles that are harmonised with the adjacent hallways, and they retain the built-in wardrobes and bedroom cabinets. The room decor is Edwardian on the Thames river side and art deco on the Strand side.[44][45] Butler service was also reintroduced to the hotel, and Gordon Ramsay manages the Savoy Grill with Chef Director Stuart Gillies and Head Chef Andy Cook, which reopened in November 2010.[47][48] The hotel also contains a small museum, open to the public, exhibiting items from the hotel's archives.

The critic for The Daily Telegraph wrote: "The Savoy is still The Savoy, only better. ... [The rooms] are calm ... you are the personality, not the room. ... [The hotel is] a saviour of The Strand I suspect now. The lobby is bigger and grander, and JUST THE SAME."

Famous guests and the hotel in films and novels
The future king Edward VII was an early guest.Numerous famous guests have stayed at the hotel. Claude Monet[49] and James Whistler both stayed at the hotel and painted or drew views, from their rooms, of the River Thames.[1][50] The Savoy featured prominently in guest Oscar Wilde's trial for gross indecency (he had conducted his affair with Lord Alfred Douglas in the hotel). Other celebrity guests in the hotel's early days included The future King Edward VII, Sarah Bernhardt, Enrico Caruso, Lillie Langtry, H. G. Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Nellie Melba, Charlie Chaplin, Fred Astaire, Marlene Dietrich, Lionel Barrymore, Harry Truman, Audrey Hepburn, Judy Garland, Cary Grant, Babe Ruth, Ivor Novello and Noël Coward.[24][45] The hotel kept records of its guests’ preferences, so that it could provide them in advance. For Coward, the staff made history by taking the first photographs of a hotel guest's toilet articles so that they could lay them out in his bathroom exactly as he liked them. They made sure to provide a fireproof eiderdown to Barrymore, as he always smoked while reading in bed.

Bob Dylan stayed in the hotel in 1965 and filmed the video clip Subterranean Homesick Blues in an adjacent alley. Frank Sinatra, Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh (the last two met at the hotel), Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Richard Harris (who lived at the hotel for the last several years of his life; while being carried out on a stretcher before he died, he joked, "It was the food".), Maria Callas, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Julie Andrews, Lena Horne, Barbra Streisand, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, Elton John, U2, Led Zeppelin, The Who, George Clooney, Whoopi Goldberg and Stephen Fry are just a few of the celebrities who stayed there in recent decade.

The hotel has often been used as a film location. For example, the romantic finale to the Notting Hill (1999) is set in the hotel's Lancaster Room, where Anna (Julia Roberts) and William (Hugh Grant) declare their mutual love. In 1921, the hotel was used in the film Kipps, based on the novel by H. G. Wells. The hotel also featured in The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981) and Entrapment (1999), among others. Arnold Bennett wrote the novel Imperial Palace in 1930, based on his research at the hotel and fictionalising the hotel's operations.

Restaurants and bars[edit] RestaurantsThe hotel has two well-known restaurants: the Grill Room (usually known as the Savoy Grill), on the north side of the building, with its entrance off the Strand, and the Savoy Restaurant (sometimes known as the River Restaurant), on the south side, overlooking the River Thames. The grand River Restaurant, facing the Thames, has long been famous for its inventive chefs, beginning in 1890 with celebrity chef Auguste Escoffier. Escoffier created many famous dishes at the Savoy. In 1893 he invented the pêche Melba in honour of the Australian singer Nellie Melba, and in 1897, Melba toast.[24] Other Escoffier creations were bombe Néro (a flaming ice), fraises à la Sarah Bernhardt (strawberries with pineapple and Curaçao sorbet), baisers de Vierge (meringue with vanilla cream and crystallised white rose and violet petals) and suprêmes de volailles Jeannette (jellied chicken breasts with foie gras).

New Year's Eve dinner at the Savoy, 1907Under Ritz and Escoffier, evening dress had to be worn in the restaurant, and Ritz was innovative in hiring popular musicians to play background music during dinner and in printing daily menus.[9] Even today, elegant dining at the Savoy includes formal afternoon tea with choral and other performances at Christmas time. The Savoy has a Sunday brunch including free-flow champagne, and special events, such as New Year's Eve dinner. Kaspar, a 3-foot high art-deco black cat sculpted in 1926 by Basil Ionides, is used as an extra guest when thirteen dine, to stave off bad luck. He is given a full place setting and served each course.[58][59] August Laplanche was head chef at the hotel from 1946 to 1965,[30] Silvino Trompetto was maître-chef from 1965 to 1980[17] and Anton Edelmann was maître chef des cuisines for 21 years, between 1982 and 2003.[60] As part of the 2010 refurbishment, the restaurant has been completely redecorated in the art deco style, with a leopard pattern carpet.

Gordon Ramsay has managed the less formal Savoy Grill in recent years, employing his protégé Marcus Wareing, during which it earned its first Michelin star. The Grill was originally "where people go to eat a modest luncheon or to dine on the way to the theatre without spending too much time or too much money." Reopening in November 2010, the Chef Patron is Stuart Gillies and Head Chef is Andy Cook.

BarsThe American Bar at the Savoy Hotel opened in 1898 and first introduced cocktails to Europe. The term American Bar comes from the 1930s. Bar owners in Europe renamed their bars "The American Bar" to designate the sale of American cocktails.

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