What To Do In and Around The Savoy, London

Walking into the Front Hall of The Savoy feels like a quintessentially English experience – designed to make tourists (and local Londoners) swoon.

Strand, London WC2R 0EZ, UK
Having built the Savoy Theatre, English agent Richard D’Oyly Carte opened a nearby hotel in 1889 to accommodate the wealthy American patrons who came to see the celebrated Gilbert & Sullivan operas. In the years following, the hotel welcomed such regulars as Winston Churchill, Coco Chanel, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Chaplin, Mel Brooks, and Katherine Hepburn; some of these famous former guests are now celebrated in the menu of theatrical Character Cocktails served at the hotel’s decadent Beaufort Bar, while others have inspired the nine elegant Personality Suites. Anecdotes abound at The Savoy, including the time Marilyn Monroe stopped by for a press conference in 1956 to promote The Prince and the Showgirl with costar Laurence Olivier and caused a media frenzy when she appeared in a black dress that, tantalizingly, revealed her midriff.

But The Savoy, now managed by Fairmont, is not one to languish in the past. The hotel completed an ambitious $350 million renovation in 2010—in time to celebrate its 125-year anniversary—and now features timeless spaces with every modern convenience. The 267 rooms and suites include Art Deco or Edwardian décor, custom-made furnishings, bespoke rainfall showerheads, and Penhaligon’s amenities; many of the higher category options look out over the Thames or city landmarks, and have extras like claw-foot tubs or, in Deluxe Junior Partial Riverview Suites and above, the legendary Savoy Butler service. Rotating programming—from arts and culture events to a writer-in-residence series and expert-led masterclasses—keep guests engaged, while the six dining and drinking outlets include Simpson’s In the Strand (beloved for its Sunday roast), Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill, and the Thames Foyer for the iconic Afternoon Tea.
No trip to London is complete without a stroll through the city’s manicured green spaces. Start in St James’s Park, home to four pelicans, which are fed beside Duck Island each afternoon. The tradition of pelicans in this park dates back to 1664, when the incumbent Russian ambassador presented them to London as a gift. Aim westwards to take in the spectacle of Buckingham Palace—the changing of the guards still takes place here, with much pomp and circumstance. Carry on through to Hyde Park, where you can rent paddleboats to tool around Serpentine Lake, before ending in Kensington Gardens, where Royals William and Kate reside in Kensington Palace. Photo by David Davies//Flickr.
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