I’m happy to report that work is progressing steadily, thanks to the army of nearing a thousand tradesmen that swarms over the site in yellow bibs and hard hats. That’s not to say Kiaran won’t have a few sleepless nights between now and October. “If I’m having a bad night, I think of Terminal Five”, he admitted.
Those who worried that the refurbishment project would rip the heart and soul out of the iconic hotel can rest easy: if anything, Pierre-Yves Rochon’s designs have amplified its Edwardian and Art Deco architecture and fittings.
So, from the Strand and in:
The polished silver and lacquered onyx pillars and art deco canopy of the Savoy Court entrance are set to be enhanced by a fountain centrepiece of black marble and Lalique crystal. Woe betide any taxi driver who clips it on their turning circle …
Inside, two years of French polishing have brought a lustrous sheen back to the mahogany panelling in the Front Hall; and a lick of Celadon Green paint has breathed fresh life back into the hall’s eleborate friezes. A concierge desk will soon be erected to the side of the revolving front doors, but reception has been relocated to what used to be the Reading Room (formerly a private-dining space for the Savoy Grill).
The American Bar has retained its elegant curves; cobalt-blue seating is set against cream walls that bring a pleasing lightness to the room.
As we head down the stairs that lead to the Thames Foyer, MacDonald points out that the desired effect was that of a stroll along Burlington Arcade. A Savoy tea Room has been added, whose show kitchen will enable the resident chef-patissier to add a touch of live theatre to proceedings.
The Thames Foyer itself is now crowned by a glass cupola, and anchored around an impressive central gazebo reminiscent of a scale model of Singapore’s Lau Pa Sat market, which will house a piano and winter garden. At night, the new Beaufort Bar will open its doors onto the foyer, bringing a darker, sexier vibe to the space.
The River Restaurant’s stainless steel pillars and sycamore panels recall the hotel’s art deco heritage. the emphasis here will be on modern French cuisine in the style of Scotts and the Wolseley.
To the bedrooms and guest corridors: according to MacDonald, these were previously a slightly jarring blend of Edwardian and Art Deco. This has been rectified, with each now working to just one architectural style. All guests will have their preference, but both styles are beautifully realised, with many original details retained.
Suites boast Murano chandeliers, commissioned artwork and stagering views of the Thames, from Canary Wharf to Westminster and beyond.
Finally, the Ballroom is once again a big, dreamboat of a room, in Wedgewood Blue.