Sunday, 3 April 2011
Travelling M.N.D. bands go posh ?
Last year I watched a really interesting series on the the television documenting the restoration of the Savoy Hotel in London.The Savoy was the first luxury hotel to be built in Britain and is situated on the Strand in the city of Westminster in central London-it took five years to build, finally opening its doors on the 6th of August 1889 .It was built by impresario Richard Carte with the profits from his Gilbert and Sullivan operas ,it caused a great sensation at that time as it was the first hotel in London to be lit by electricity, it had the first electric lift and later became the first hotel to provide bathrooms en suite
Artists Whistler and Monet both used views from the hotels windows for their work. Oscar Wilde with his friend Lord Alfred Douglas, The Prince of Wales and his coterie were all frequent visitors-The likes of Noel Coward ,George Gershwin,George Bernard Shaw and H.G.Wells frequented the American Bar.
Art Deco and Jazz and the Savoy were made for each other-The iconic stainless-steel sign over the Savoy court was erected in 1929.Top jazz musicians from America came to play and a hydraulic lift system installed to raise the dance floor and turn it into a stage for cabaret acts.The stars loved the Savoy-England`s own Vivien Leigh was first introduced to her future husband Lawrence Olivier in the hotel`s front hall - From America Al Jolson, Errol Flynn and Katherine Hepburn,From France Josephine Baker and Coco Channel, Winston Churchill frequently had lunch with his cabinet at the hotel during WW2 and attended his Savoy club, The other club ,until his death in 1965.Once peace was declared The Savoy quickly regained its air of glamour and luxury ,Princess Elizabeth was first seen with Lt Philip Mountbatton in public at a Savoy reception.
The new Elizabethan age saw a new generation of actors ,films ,stars and politicians.
Elizabeth Taylor [honeymooned there ]Sophia Loren ,Marilyn Munroe.The Savoy swung into the sixties with Louis Armstrong, Marlon Brando,and Jane Fonda to the Beatles and Bob Dylan !
In 2007 began the most extensive restoration that would re-launch The Savoy in 2010,
The hotel conducted a sale of 3,000 of its famous furnishings and memorabilia -which is something I personally felt quite sad about, for me [if I ever got the opportunity that is ]of going to the Savoy for afternoon tea ,the joy of being there and soaking up the atmosphere-wondering who had sat in that exact same spot-parked their bottom in that same chair and used the same china would be all part of the enjoyment for me ![ romantic old fool that I`am ] Having said that-the glass dome which was covered during WW2 was never uncovered until the renovation -The rooms have been modernised but decorated in period styles - I couldn`t help but feel it had been spoilt- once you had walked through the doors you could have been at any top class hotel anywhere in the world- but I guess you need to move with the times-I really am a bit of a grumpy bum - I hate change !
The hotel checked in its first guest- Actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry at 10.10am on the 10/10/10 after a refurbishment cost of 220 million pounds [ 110 m over budget]
Butler service was re-introduced .I would still love to stay the night at this hotel-who wouldn`t ? Sigh ! Our travelling bands go to the nicest of places !