Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Savoy, London

Visitors to London who are fortunate enough to stay at the Savoy Hotel are probably already aware that the small road leading to it is the only street in the UK where you legally drive on the right (wrong) side of the road.

There are a few reasons as to how this came about and I'll give you them now without the pompous declarations and claims of other posts as to which is correct.

When the Lords and Ladies of bygone years were being dropped off at the hotel it was (is) tradition that the Lady sat behind her chauffeur. So in approaching from the right meant that the hotel doorman could open the ladies door first and her ladyship didn't then have to climb over her portly husband in an unseeming fashion.

The London Black Cab has been the most powerful force on the capital streets, up until the surge (pricing) of the Uber app, and by entering Savoy Court American style, with clients attending the Savoy Theatre situated alongside the hotel, they did not block the hotel entrance as they dropped off (if luck was on their side they could drop one punter at the theatre and collect another from the hotel. Double bubble as the Cockneys would say. 

The Savoy can justifiably claim to be the grandest hotel in London, indeed the world, with one of its main rivals being the Ritz Hotel situated out along Piccadilly. A hotel founded by a former manager of the Savoy, Cesar Ritz, who left to 'do it better' and be his own boss. How he succeeded in such magnitude is all the more impressive as Mr Ritz was a hopeless alcoholic and, in a former employ, would run through the guest corridors at 5am ringing a bell as he chased his wife with a gun.

Businessman Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Bin Abdul-Aziz Al-Saud, or the artist formally known as Prince (to his friends), spent countless millions renovating the Savoy a few years ago with many traditionalists never returning due to the fact that they hated the new decor or they'd died during the 2 years it was closed. 

Since King Henry gifted the land to Peter, Count of Savoy, in 1246, (why he didn't wait until 1 o'clock is a mystery and very old joke) the place has stunk of the rich, famous and privileged. Vivien Leigh met her future husband Laurence Olivier here and even our future Queen Elizabeth chose the Savoy as the venue to officially be seen 'out' with Philip Mountbatten.

Take a look, take a photo and, if you are actually staying there, as many of the toiletries as you can.

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