Oh to be back in London, and to look out over the Thames, especially at sunrise – see the image above. At Christmas time, the city’s luxury hotels are very special indeed. The gal was bowled over by the inside-out tree concept, by Apple’s Jony Ive and Marc Newson, at Claridge’s, and by Antony Gormley’s outsize knitting needle outside The Connaught. At the iconic The Savoy, the lobby tree is more traditional, but walk down towards Kaspar’s fabulous Seafood Bar and Grill and you do think you are in a white winter-wonderland.
Kaspar’s, by the way, is called after a three-foot-tall feline sculpture by Basil Ionides, made to ward off bad luck after a South African diamond magnate, Woolf Joel, held a dinner for 13 in the hotel, way back in 1898: now, any table-for-13 is set for 14, with the cat posed in one chair. We were two for dinner, but first it was drinks in The American Bar – gosh, we were lucky to get a table (memo to travel advisors, make sure your clients have a reservation there, to avoid having to stand in line for half an hour or so. And after an aperitif, and dinner, I returned up to my little room, which actually was rather special, The Savoy Suite, number 618.
What does actually make a luxury hotel experience? Staff who appear when you want them to, and do not hang around. I was initially taken up by the lovely Kelly-Marie Rimmer, director of guest services. She talked, without asking nosy questions, but she gave me plenty of opportunity to say anything I wanted, anything I needed. As we turned the corner from the elevator, to walk along the pale pistachio corridor to 618, the butler was already standing outside. He quickly, once inside the room with Kelly-Marie and me, realised I did not need anything, and until I had a print-out delivery I never saw him again.
Then the room has to be perfect, and more and more an incredibly glamorous bathroom, one that evokes Hollywood in bygone days, adds to the image of any luxury hotel (you want to feel Marilyn-like, in bias-cut pale pink crèpe de chîne, a glass of Bollinger, perfectly chilled, in one hand, but forget the cigarette in a horn cigarette holder that might have been diagonally slipping from the other hand). See the video below. A stunning view helps. And for me, at least, anyone that can offer a 24/7 gym, with Technogym that allows you to play sudoku, and breakfast, as in Kaspar’s, with outstanding coffee poured by a charming young man from Caracas… oh there is so much more in the complicated recipe for the perfect luxury hotel. Just see what is already happening here at The Savoy, and watch what newly-arrived GM Philip Barnes has up his sleeve. SEE MORE OF THE SAVOY SUITE, BELOW