Savoy saviour

by PHOEBE LIU on Jan 31, 2011 in Architecture , Interiors , Lifestyle
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An iconic London hotel recently completed one of the most ambitious restorations in British history under the watchful eye of French designer Pierre Ives Rochon

Established in 1889, The Savoy was the brainchild of the Gilbert and Sullivan impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte. Originally managed by Swiss hotelier César Ritz and maitre chef Auguste Escoffier, the hotel quickly became known for its glittering parties and celebrity guests, including Lily Langtry, Dame Nellie Melba and the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. Closed in December 2007 and finally reopening nearly three years later in October 2010, the Savoy’s ₤220 million restoration, overseen by Pierre Yves Rochon, saw the hotel’s two main design aesthetics, Edwardian and Art Déco, carefully brought back to life. More than 1,000 craftsmen and women, artists and artisans were involved in creating interiors in line with the hotel’s original spirit.

“It was important to bring back the English classical style and elegance of London to the Savoy. Its history and significance in London’s history make it unique; not just another ‘design hotel.’ The priority for the bedrooms and suites was the view to the Thames. It is a privilege to have this view, and we wanted to maximise the impact of this historic vista,” Rochon says.
Thirty-eight new River Suites and guestrooms were added, with nine ‘Personality Suites’ paying tribute to artists and well-known figures such as Maria Callas, Charlie Chaplin, Marlene Dietrich and Frank Sinatra. The suites contain artwork, literature, photographs and artefacts that evoke the time and spirit of the stars, including the 12 pink roses in the Marlene Dietrich Suite that the actress always requested upon arrival.

One of the main challenges of the restoration involved the upgrading of the bathrooms, which required special attention. “The main challenge was to restore this hotel to its historic pinnacle of success, and to respect its storied past. Bathrooms are important elements in hospitality,” Rochon points out. “People spend more and more time in the bathroom nowadays, so we made bigger bathrooms, with separate shower, steam and double basins. We also tried to open the bathroom to the room and daylight.”