Fairmont Hotels & Resorts owns London’s historic Savoy Hotel (due to reopen next year and one of London’s leading Art Deco hotels).
It has released a list of 100 historic Savoy “firsts” – fascinating reading. I was struck by how many hotel facilities and services that are now taken for granted were pioneered by the Savoy (the hotel first opened in 1889).
Here is my edited top ten of hotel ideas “stolen from The Savoy”.
1. The Savoy was the first hotel to provide most of its rooms with private, en-suite bathrooms. The facilities were lavishly appointed in marble.
2. It was the first hotel to install electric lifts, known in typical Savoy fashion as ‘ascending rooms’.
3. The Savoy was the first hotel to provide constantly-running hot and cold water in every bedroom.
4. The Savoy was the first to provide its clientele with 24-hour room service.
5. Britain’s first serviced apartments were built at The Savoy in 1904. The apartments had full access to all the hotel’s amenities. There were many famous residents, some of whom lived there for decades.
6. The Savoy was the first hotel to provide music while guests were dining. According to the legendary hotelier César Ritz, the idea was to ‘cover the silence which hangs like a pall over an English dining table’.
7. It was also the first hotel to install air-conditioning, steam-heating and soundproofed windows.
8. The first hotel to install telephones in every bathroom.
9. The Savoy was first to publish its own book of cocktail recipes. The Savoy Hotel Cocktail Book (published 1930) has stayed in print ever since.
10. It was the first luxury hotel in London to have its own “Writer in Residence” scheme. Previous writers in residence on the Savoy site have included Geoffrey Chaucer, Henry Fielding and Fay Weldon.
It’s amazing how many of the above things are now taken for granted in hotels– including necessities like ensuite bathrooms and air conditioning!
So it’s impressive how pioneering the Savoy was in its heyday. This only makes me more excited to see the hotel’s long-awaited re-opening in 2010.
On a lighter note, the first restaurant guests to order porridge and pea sandwiches at the Savoy were The Beatles, when they came to visit Bob Dylan there in 1965. In more recent times, the first celebrity flood in the hotel occurred when Elton John carelessly allowed his bath to overflow!
Photo credits: The Savoy (Fairmont Hotels & Resorts).