LONDON High-end U.S. travelers looking for a luxury hotel in the
heart of London’s West End preferably one with a storied past are
likely to end up at a Savoy Group property.
The group began with The Savoy, London’s first luxury hotel
built in 1889, and now represents nearly half of the luxury rooms
in the city at properties like Claridge’s, The Connaught and The
In 1998, the Savoy Group was bought by American venture capital
firm, the Blackstone Group. A few months later, Quinlan Private, an
investment group based in Ireland and chaired by Derek Quinlan,
bought the whole group, including Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, a
Then, this September, Quinlan confirmed the investment group was
in discussions with Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal
Abdulaziz al Saud and the Bank of Scotland Corporate over the sale
of The Savoy Hotel and Simpson’s-in-the-Strand but not the other
Savoy Group properties.
Alwaleed has announced plans to bring in Fairmont Hotels &
Resorts, in which he has an interest, to operate The Savoy.
The fact of the matter is travelers who visit any of the Group’s
hotels this year will already see changes and they are all for the
better. Blackstone spent millions upgrading the aging hotels and,
with the help of some of London’s most noted designers, renovations
will please guests looking for more modern amenities, as well as
traditionalists who have stayed in the same beloved suite through
The grand dame of London accommodations, Claridge’s has been
freshened up while maintaining its art deco and Victorian touches.
That said, the sculpture on the foyer ceiling a mass of writhing
glass worms is a controversial addition, but, nevertheless, guests
continue to congregate underneath it for afternoon tea.
Clients should ask for one of the more contemporary, newly
renovated rooms, which are the work of various designers, each with
a distinct style.
Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay opened his eponymous restaurant at
Claridge’s in 2001, and it quickly earned one Michelin star. The
Macanudo Fumoir also opened for pre- and post-dinner cigars, and
what was The Causerie has been converted to Claridge’s Bar.
Sixth-floor staff residences were transformed into a fitness
center and beauty spa.
Just steps away from Claridge’s in Mayfair, The Connaught’s public
spaces and some guestrooms have been refurbished in keeping with
the traditional Edwardian style. The Red Room, where breakfast, tea
and light snacks are served, spotlights designer Nina Campbell’s
love for rich reds and golds. An elegant new fireplace greets
guests in the lobby. Rooms have high-speed Internet access and fax
machines can be requested.
The Connaught has added a sleek fitness studio.
Overlooking Hyde Park, The Berkeley (pronounced BARK-lee), which
opened in Knightsbridge in 1972, is the baby in the Savoy Group
Here, renovations include the addition of noted chef Marcus
Wareing’s opulently chic Petrus, which also recently earned one
Michelin star. A more casual alternative is Ramsay’s new Boxwood
Off the lobby, the newly designed Caramel Room recently launched
a fashion-themed afternoon tea service called “Pret-a-Por-Tea”
featuring pastries that reflect haute couture designs. The new Blue
Bar targets the contemporary music crowd, and even offers its own
Fifty new rooms were recently added for a total of 214, and the
spa is scheduled for renovations. Don’t miss the indoor pool on the
top floor, where a retractable roof opens for the rare days of
The Savoy, which is on the Strand, was scheduled for a lot more
work this year, but future plans may change with the new owner.
Renovations so far include a makeover of the Savoy Grill by
designer Barbara Barry. Beloved by the theater crowd, the Grill
maintained its original banquette seating, so guests can still sit
where Viv (Leigh) met Lawrence (Olivier).
Chef Wareing, who here has also earned a Michelin star, has
taken over the Grill kitchen, as well as the new, more casual
diner-style restaurant upstairs, Banquette, which serves “retro
English” food. And the lobby includes a new Laurent-Perrier
About 30 new rooms were added to the 263-room hotel last year.
And the hotel added TeleSuite, a virtual-reality conference room,
for business travelers to hold “meetings” with participants around