// Photography by Will Taylor
A few weeks ago I took a weekend city break… in my own city! It was the first time I’ve collaborated with a hotel in London to see what it felt like to be an out of town visitor staying in the British capital for a weekend. My base for two days was The Savoy Hotel on the Strand. Upon entering the hotel’s Front Hall (I quickly learned that it’s never referred to as ‘the lobby’!) I was immediately struck by the grandeur and Art Deco detailing of the space.With a practical and beautiful location on the banks of the River Thames in the heart of London, The Savoy makes the perfect base to explore the city. Reopened in 2010 after extensive renovations, the Art Deco and Edwardian styles of its 125-year history has been lovingly restored and refreshed for a memorable 21st century stay. A stone’s throw from the vibrant Southbank, a short cab ride from the eclectic West End shopping district, and just steps from Theatreland, you can reach many of the city’s star attractions on foot – the best way, in my opinion, to take in London’s spectacular views and architecture.The hotel itself offers a handful of the most distinguished restaurants and bars in London. Whether it’s the theatrically themed Beaufort Bar complete with monthly burlesque performances, or the charming, classic American Bar, you can have a drink in a variety of exquisitely designed environments. I also enjoyed a light breakfast of yogurt, fruit and an egg white omelet in the stunning Thames Foyer, an area flooded with natural light thanks to a gorgeous glass atrium at the centre.The restoration is most apparent in the guest rooms, which feel clean, fresh, and good quality despite the age of the antique furniture. Split into various wings, you can either stay in an Edwardian or Art Deco style suite. While I enjoyed the occasional bright and playful touches, as well as the light-flooded bathrooms, the décor was definitely more traditional than I was used to from a hotel. That said, it was invigorating and inspiring to stay in a completely unique environment.The history and tradition of the hotel are apparent at every turn and in the one-bedroom suites, you even have your own personal butler (mine was named Francis and he was incredibly attentive and helpful!) to assist with any requests you may have during your stay. In fact, Francis very kindly ironed my shirt before heading down to dinner at the hotel’s own seafood bar and grill, Kaspar’s. Normally while traveling, I am frantically trying to get the wrinkles out of my outfit on a wonky ironing board before dashing out the door to an event, so this was a total treat!The restaurant is decorated and furnished in an intricate Art Deco style, which was inspired by the decadence of the twenties and thirties. Details such as cut-glass mirroring, a stunning silver leaf ceiling, a glossy chequer-board marble floor, and pendant glass light fixtures help set the scene. It felt luxurious yet relaxed and informal all at once – an ideal place to indulge and treat oneself. Alongside the delicious food led by head chef James Pare – the pan roasted fish cakes and wiener schnitzel are both outstandingly good – there’s also stunning views of the River Thames and some of the city’s most iconic landmarks, all of which can be taken in from the comfort of your table.While staying at the hotel, I was lucky enough to take a class in flower arrangements, led by The Savoy’s Head Floral Designer, Belinda Bowles. Her friendly and knowledgeable style put me instantly at ease and I enjoyed learning how to make everything from beautiful corsages and buttonholes, to seasonal centerpieces and hand tied single rose gifts. I rounded out my visit to London with a magical and enchanting ride on the London Eye. It was the perfect way to see my city all alight, the mass of buildings glittering and sparkling against the midnight blue sky. It was genuinely inspiring to see London in a way I had never done before – through the eyes of a visitor. The Houses of Parliament and Big Ben all lit up at night was worth the trip alone – wow!I often tell my overseas pals that London’s size is almost equivalent to its charm, but that it shouldn’t deter them from feeling like they can really get to know the city in just a few days. I pulled together a little two day travel guide for anyone who is looking to eat, visit and shop their way through my favourite Central and West London places. Have you ever stayed at The Savoy? What inspires you to see your city from a new perspective versus visiting a completely new-to-you city?
I stayed at the Savoy on my honeymoon this brings back so many memories! You highlighted all of the beautiful details perfectly- remember being so charmed! X j
@Jana – What a magical place to stay for your honeymoon! Pleased it brought back so many happy memories! 🙂 x
What a wonderful experience! Thank you for sharing it with us 🙂
@Susan – My pleasure!
The Savoy looks incredible!! Loved seeing the pictures of London at night also!
@Jules – It really was an amazing experience. So pleased you liked the London at night pictures, too. I am delighted with how they came out! 🙂
I’ve been lucky enough to stay at the Savoy but pre the renovation, my in-laws were generous for their ruby wedding anniversary to put us all up in 3 suites – awesome views and really comfy rooms. We also tried the tasting menu in the Savoy Grill with a tour of the kitchen. I’ve had tea there a few times too and love the American Bar….. I’ve always felt spoilt that since we moved to Brighton 10 years ago that we now have an “excuse” to stay in London hotels (even if Brighton is only 1 hour on the train! And my Mum lives in North London!). I love exploring the city I was born in, raised in and lived in for 27 years…. Can’t ever tire of London. We even took little Max for his first London hotel stay (we’re Firmdale fans) and he loved the hotel life. But then he did go to NYC for his first birthday and New Zealand for Christmas (spoilt little nomad). I’ve been toying with a Savoy stay sans little one and you’re helping to stack its favour Will.
@Mary – Wonderful to read of your hotel stay adventures, and little Max sure is well travelled – I love it! Thanks for the kind words. 🙂 x
Oh wow Savoy brings back so many memories from my time as a florist in London… Talking about that – love your floral pieces! Have a nice weekend! xx
@Emelie – Hearing that from a talented florist like yourself really makes me smile, thank you! 🙂 xx
Ooh you lucky thing!
I spent a few hours in the Marlene Dietrich suite – which sounds sordid, but it was for a press event! – where there is even a button you press and the butler appears with a chilled bottle of Dom Perignon!
I’m from London too and I love the idea of being a tourist in my own city 🙂
@Catherine – That made me laugh out loud! It’s such a wonderful place, isn’t it! 🙂
You look quite handsome headed to dinner, and looks like a fun weekend stay. I’m staying with a local hotel in Louisville in a couple of weekends to do the same, should be fun!
@TKG – Thanks, Josh! Have a great time on your local vacation, too! 🙂
OH the savoy I worked there as a room attendant for 3 years back in the 80s and loved working there the atmosphere was brilliant even as just being a member of staff….. hope to go back there one day as a guest still saving my penny’s for a one night stay
@Linda – What a wonderful story – I really hope you get to stay as a guest soon. 🙂
I was the Royal Service Manager for the re-opening team and I now live back home in Oz with my family and I cannot wait to come back to the SAVOY and feel like an out of town visitor !!! Very nice article
@Suzanne – Oh, wow! What an amazing job that must have been. Thanks so much for stopping by!
My husband and I stayed at The Savoy just before Christstmas last year, we had an amazing time, such a beautiful hotel. Hoping to do it again very soon
@Natalie – What a beautiful time of year to stay!
Hi Will, I have just trawled through your fantastic site and snapshots, you have an eye instantly engaging sights and some of the hotels remind me of the interiors found in Hip Hotels, a book we published in my days at Thames and Hudson. It is clearly worth getting out and about when no one else is up yet! My favourite image has to be the lake of Central Park. Please please please keep up the good work!
@Adrian – Thanks for the support! Cheers!
It’s always a delight to see pictures of the Savoy.
Very cool article!
@Andrew – Such a unique hotel, isn’t it!