The Savoy, a Fairmont managed hotel, is just one of those places: a celebrated London landmark and esteemed icon of the hospitality industry whose name alone has long been a byword for luxury. Its reputation precedes it. If you’ve been a guest there, you’ll know how special it is – and if you haven’t been a guest there, you’ll also know how special it is. Its prestige is enduring and deserved, and London simply wouldn’t be London without it.
It’s also true to say that The Savoy wouldn’t be The Savoy without London. The hotel has spent its 130 years on the Strand absorbing and reflecting local traditions, stories and values. Today’s Savoy is deeply connected to its surroundings and draws much of its identity from London’s own character. Guests may be staying in a world-famous hotel, but their experience there is brimming with authentic local charm.
None of which comes as a surprise when you consider that The Savoy is managed by Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, a champion of the notion that a hotel’s place is at the heart of its community. It recognises that because the nature of a hotel is so deeply rooted in its locale, the health and sustenance of that locale is of crucial importance.
For three decades, Fairmont has led the conversation on responsible tourism, pioneering efforts to make the industry more eco-friendly – and The Savoy is a shining example of this focus on sustainability. It was the first hotel in London to recycle food waste and continues to implement measures that put the environment – as well as local socio-economic considerations – first.
It now works in partnership with Laithwaites Wines to collect and carefully sort the natural corks used in the hotel. Most of the corks are shredded into garden “mulch” and spread over Laithwaites’ Berkshire vineyard to keep weeds at bay, but others are made into display boards by students at a local special educational needs school and sold to raise money for the Prince’s Trust charity.
Similarly, the hotel’s on-site table-water bottling plant helps reduce carbon emissions and prevents an average of 105 tonnes of glass from needing to be recycled annually. Meanwhile, the Savoy Bee Hotel was built and designed by staff, and recently gifted to Canada House in nearby Trafalgar Square, where it attracts vital pollinator bees to the capital. And then there’s the freshly announced partnership with leading eco-fashion brand VIN + OMI, which will see The Savoy’s doormen wearing bespoke, sustainable uniforms from early next year.
One such doorman is Tony Cortegaca, who has been with the hotel for 35 years. “People will sometimes bring me a picture of their child standing beside me at The Savoy years ago and now he’s in front of me, all grown up,” he says fondly. “It’s so special to be a part of people’s history.”
Long-standing staff members like Tony are central to The Savoy experience, and many of them have themselves become part of the local community. The hotel’s front of house team know London intimately and can offer visitors the very best recommendations for any interest or activity. Naturally, they’re willing to go the extra mile for their guests. Concierge Dean Maddison once helped a guest find his long-lost British relatives, combing through local archives until they were reunited. He was able to do this because of Fairmont’s emphasis on local connections, giving guests an unforgettable experience that brings them closer to each destination.
The Savoy’s chefs and front-of-house team are taken to London’s famous Billingsgate Market to experience the process of buying fish from the market’s Chamberlain Brothers, who have been supplying the hotel for more than 10 years. The meat and vegetables served in The Savoy’s lauded restaurants are also sourced from local, family-run businesses, and spirits produced in London have become a staple in the hotel’s bars. In fact, the two high-end gins stocked exclusively by The Savoy are both distilled in the city.
Visitors to the hotel’s renowned American Bar enjoy drinks crafted by the best bartenders in town; not only has this place held the title of the world’s best bar as recently as 2018, it’s also London’s oldest cocktail bar. Established in 1904, it survived both world wars and no doubt more than a few riotous nights being patronised by the city’s rich and famous. There’s still plenty of fun to be had in the bar, but today’s staff take a responsible approach to putting together their menus, which have a strong emphasis on sustainability. Ingredients are reused and recycled where possible to help reduce wastage. If there’s an orange peel garnish in your drink, the juice and zest of that same orange will likely have been used in someone else’s cocktail; nothing goes to waste.
The American Bar’s longevity and regard for the environment is yet another example of The Savoy’s intrinsic links to London. For 130 years, the two have shared time and space, and now one simply does not make sense without the other.
Even the hotel’s origins are fundamental to the capital’s history – and indeed to the history of the UK. The plot of land on which the hotel is built was originally purchased to house a generator for The Savoy Theatre, which was the country’s first public building to be lit entirely by electricity. Once impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte had opened the theatre, he set about constructing London’s first purpose-built deluxe hotel. It was designed by noted Victorian architect Thomas Edward Collcutt and modelled on the opulent hotels D’Oyly Carte had encountered on his travels to North America.
Today, that opulence is reflected in the bliss of indulgent food and drink, in the warmth of staff who truly care and in the luxury of an unbeatable Thameside location right in the centre of town. The Savoy is a Fairmont managed hotel that embodies the heart and soul of London, in all its stylish, elegant splendour. By bringing guests closer to this unique destination in a responsible, sustainable way, it offers them an unparalleled travel experience and plenty of unforgettable moments.