Short break - Savoy, London

A one bedroom suite

A one bedroom suite - Credit: Archant

A visit to the capital can only be enhanced by your choice of hotel…and choosing The Savoy will be the start of a never-ending love affair

A room with a view

A room with a view - Credit: Archant

I thought I knew what luxury was, when it came to hotels. I’ve stayed in five star resorts in Dubai, a blingtastic ski hotel in Courcheval, with leather clad walls and more Swarovski than you could shake a stick at (the Russians, darlings, need I say more?) and Tom Cruise’s preferred stopover in the south of France – but a night at The Savoy put them all in the shade.

It also re-defines luxury. What I now understand is that luxury isn’t about thread count (though it’s a part) or about décor (but that definitely helps) or about the lovely goodies in the bathroom (although these do add up) – it’s about the way you are made to feel by the people responsible for looking after you during your stay.

On arrival you don’t even get to step through the revolving door (and oh the stars that door must have seen!) before you’re greeted and your luggage disappeared and a lovely chap leads you inside to seat you at a private check in desk (none of that vulgar public queuing to check in here, thank you very much!) Once seated, you immediately feel that your arrival has provided an additional layer of contentment to their day. The same person takes you to your suite, introduces your butler (oh yes, of course there’s one of those!) and leaves you to discover the joys within.

And oh what joys. We had a Junior Suite with a view across the Thames to the London Eye that was quite breathtaking. Our butler was quite thrilled with the view himself and full of apology for the current scaffolded state of Big Ben. Awaiting us was a plate with two delicious éclairs, which were soon accompanied by a pot of fresh made coffee, courtesy of the aforementioned apologetic butler. We also asked for a plate of sandwiches, as we had booked matinee tickets to see The Book of Mormon and had to dash out. The Savoy of course has its own theatre, right next door, currently showing Dreamgirls, which is also on my list of things to do.

Simpsons in the Strand
Credit: James Bedford

Simpsons in the Strand Credit: James Bedford - Credit: Archant

I have to say, next time you head to London, you have to line up tickets to The Book of Mormon. You will laugh till you cry. It’s too complicated to explain the plot here, but if you’re looking into an insight into certain aspects of the American psyche, this might help.

When at The Savoy a cocktail in one of the most famous bars in London, The American Bar, is a must-do. The longest-standing cocktail bar in London, it’s survived two world wars and served countless famous faces, from Winston Churchill to Ernest Hemingway. You have to book, it’s in such high demand, but once in the service is everything you hope for and the cocktail menu a magical mystery tour through the UK’s geography and history. The new Coast to Coast menu, which offers a series of complicated yet tempting cocktails inspired by our counties and heritage, from the fruit orchards of Kent to Edinburgh’s Castle Rock, has in fact just delivered the Number 1 spot at The World’s 50 Best Bars awards, which took place last Autumn. I chose a Hidden Fruit, from the Garden of England list - Ketel One vodka, walled garden wine, lemon juice, Champagne syrup, hopped grapefruit bitters, Kamm & Sons aperitif and egg white – while Mike selected a Black Diamond, from the Pennines list - Woodford Reserve Rye whiskey, Mr Black’s Cold Press Coffee Liqueur, Campari, salted Lapsang Souchong syrup and Haeckel’s Black Diamond incense. They were both quite delicious and unlike anything we’ve ever experienced before.

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If you’re staying in that part of London, then dining at Simpsons-in-the-Strand, within the same building as The Savoy and owned by the hotel, yet with its own street entrance, is a must. Recently refurbished, this restaurant has been serving traditional British food since 1850, though it dates back to 1828, when it was established as a smoking room and coffee house – the place to be to gather the news of the day. The menu, or Bill of Fare, as they have it, is of perfect length and designed to satisfy. Famous for its huge beef carvery, which is brought to your table under vast silver domes, it’s a meat-lovers paradise. I chose to start with something light – a heritage beetroot salad that was quite delicious. Mike claimed the win though; his ham hock terrine was simply fabulous. My main course – Cornish Lamb with Brassicas, was incredible. Packed with flavour and melt-in-the-mouth. For once, Mike chose to forgo a steak and plumped for Beef Wellington. Oh my, what a fabulous dish!

Once again the service was faultless. Ever-present, but never in your face, happy to recommend food or drink and to chat about the history of the restaurant, the whole team was marvellous. The recommendation of a glass of English sparkling wine, the Ridgeview ‘Simpsons’ Cavendish, bottled just for the restaurant, was a stroke of genius.

The Black Diamond cocktail

The Black Diamond cocktail - Credit: Archant

We slept very well that night, snuggled into what are probably very high threadcount sheets and with the never quite silent river and bright lights of London doused by heavy curtains. I awoke just in time to see the sun rise over London Bridge (it was midwinter, before you wonder, so not everso early!) and it was really quite the sight. As rooms with a view go, this is a corker.

Breakfast can be taken in the room of course, but we chose to people watch in Kaspar’s restaurant, accompanying our Eggs Benedict and Savoy English with imaginings about our fellow diners – most satisfying, both food and assumptions!

Later, when asked to sum up what I felt The Savoy delivered, all I could think of was that it seems as if someone put themselves in the place of a traveller arriving in a fancy hotel and asked themselves – what would I want? This person must have literally walked the same walk every guest walks and written down everything that occurred that would make the journey pleasant. In the room they must have imagined every eventuality, from a need to eat (now!) to a desire for separate loos (there are two) to the very high end multi-media system and the very smart butler. I cannot think of a single thing that would have made a single moment of my stay there more pleasurable or made me feel more welcome and looked after. That’s luxury…and I could very easily get used to it.

Savoy, Strand, London, United Kingdom, WC2R 0EZ