As I sit here sweltering in the record breaking heat wave, with my Dyson fan cranked up as high as it goes (“you’re glad I persuaded you we should buy another one, aren’t you?”, says my husband, gleefully… I suppose he has to be right sometimes), my thoughts drift back to my fully air-conditioned oasis in the Dorchester Hotel, where we stayed for a lovely weekend in early June.
Because we have been lucky enough to stay in both the Dorchester Hotel and The Savoy Hotel this year, I thought it would be nice to write about our experiences in both, especially if you’re maybe deciding between the two. Both are historical landmarks of the city, each representing a slightly different style of opulence and luxury. Both have played host to countless celebrities, film stars, Royals and World leaders over the decades and centuries.
Neither hotel really needs much introduction (or advertising!), but they very much deserve a spot on my blog. If you’re looking to step back in time for a while, forget about plastic straws, and experience the ultimate luxurious mini break (or longer!) in London, read on..
The Savoy Hotel is nestled on the Strand, on the North side of the River Thames, bookended by one of it’s famous restaurants, Simpson’s in The Strand, and the Savoy Theatre (currently showing Dreamgirls).
As soon as you sweep into the Art Deco style entrance with its famous sign, you already feel that you’re entering a bygone era of elegance. The smartly uniformed doorman will deftly extract your belongings from you and guide you into the beautiful foyer, of marbled archways, pale pastel friezes with white figures in relief, and a criminal amount of mahogany..
We (and our two witnesses) arrived after our wedding ceremony at Chelsea Old Town Hall. Despite the fact that I was navigating the exit from the taxi in my wedding dress, still holding onto my bouquet (and my empty Jimmy Choo box), and we had various accoutrements of luggage and coats, they were all placed on a gilded trolley and magically whisked away within seconds.
The Frank Sinatra Suite
When We booked the Savoy, we were allocated a personal “concierge”, who I was in touch with prior to our visit, in order to co-ordinate our restaurant bookings, wedding lunch etc. When they realised we were visiting after our wedding, we were kindly upgraded from our original booking, to one of the “Personality Suites”. Each reflects the style and personality of its namesake. Though I’m slightly more of a Dean Martin fan, I was nonetheless very excited to arrive at the door of the Frank Sinatra suite!
The door to the Suite, the main living area & view of the dressing area
We are also allocated our personal butler, who was available day and night for anything we may need. I think we were fairly easy residents for him, as we just wanted to relax and have the occasional room service champagne or food. I didn’t come up with any ridiculous celebrity-style requests at 3am.. although I’m pretty sure the Savoy staff wouldn’t be phased by anything!
They were very apologetic when we couldn’t get the DVD player to work, arriving within minutes to help, seemingly upset that this terrible occurrence could have happened on their watch!
If you leave your shoes or dry cleaning outside the door, they will magically arrive back in gift wrapping, looking better than they ever did before.
The room service and food was always incredible, and delivered and laid out just like a 5* restaurant. Everything had to be “just so”, and nothing is too much trouble.
All ready for champagne time with our Perle d’Ayala 1998 (a special bottle we brought with us) & Frank Sinatra DVDs in the cosy suite
I think the deluxe suite would have met with Frank’s approval! The bed was beyond comfortable, the bathroom a huge expanse of marble, with claw foot bath and separate rain shower.
As well as the excellent room service, there are also fantastic restaurants at the Savoy, including the Savoy Grill, and Kaspar’s. We were visiting these long before we ever stayed at the hotel. I’m going to talk about these in a separate post, along with a couple more favourite London restaurants, so watch this space.
Overall, the Savoy comes highly recommended for a decadent stay in London, close to the Theatre district & Covent Garden, as well as many museums and shopping areas. The hotel underwent a £220m refurbishment in 2010, and retains its status as one of the world’s most glamorous and iconic hotels.
“Welcome to one of the world’s most iconic hotels. Welcome to a place that defines its destination. Welcome to care, to refinement, to whatever your heart desires.
Welcome to The Dorchester”.
This paragraph on the hotel’s website really says it all. With its welcoming yellow striped awnings, overflowing floral balconies, and landscaped driveway with fountains, The Dorchester Hotel sits happily on Park Lane, which as we know from the Monopoly board, is one of the most expensive streets in London!
The younger sibling of The Savoy, the hotel opened in 1931, and since then has hosted many well known names from the world of film, politics and Royalty. It was apparently a home from home for Richard Burton And Elizabeth Taylor in their day. And if its good enough for Liz, then it’s definitely worth a visit!
I arrived at the Dorchester in early June to meet my husband, who was already in London. I unfortunately experienced a typically horrendous trip with KLM (not recommended), where they cancelled my flight from Amsterdam, then said it was all fine, then cancelled it at the airport mid check-in, and cheerfully told me I could fly via Paris the next day… I finally arrived around 6 hours later than I should have, after an unexpected visit to Leeds/Bradford airport. My husband had dutifully kept me updated with tales of his expertly-crafted cocktails in The Bar while I waited to board my second plane of the day, surrounded by other disgruntled travellers with tired children..
After a journey like that, there is probably no better place to arrive in the world than the door of the Dorchester Hotel. Again, my bags were magically whisked away and I was led into the relaxed, cool expanse of the gorgeous foyer, all the trials of the day to soon be (almost) forgotten!
The hotel had kindly upgraded our booking to a sumptuous suite (The Deanery), and had laid out welcome champagne, cake, beautiful flowers and all good things.
The flowers were my favourite type, and closely matched the style of my wedding bouquet, which may or may not have been a coincidence, such is the level of detail at the Dorchester! They had even referenced the name of my blog and Instagram account in icing next to a delicious cake (we had devoured most of it before we realised..)
The room was opulent & spacious, with a separate living area and dressing area. The decor and furnishings were a mix of modern and Art Deco, staying faithful to the original age and design of the hotel. A gorgeous mirrored Art Deco style screen door separated the bedroom from the living area, perfectly complementing the warm golden hues of the velvet chairs and cushions.
The decadent marble bathroom, and extremely comfortable bed!
I was feeling a bit unwell during our stay at The Dorchester, but one call to the concierge desk and ibuprofen and throat lozenges were swiftly delivered to the room. Through a mix of champagne and a couple of painkillers, I was able to enjoy our theatre visit to 42nd Street! I highly recommend this show if you’re in the mood for an all-out, uplifting dancing and singing extravaganza. Also echoing the same 1930s era as the Dorchester.
After our theatre trip, we ordered a late room service dinner, which was of the expected high standard, albeit with portions bordering on American sized, so we sadly couldn’t finish it all!
Post-theatre lounging (with a glass of champers of course), and an Instagram-able room service breakfast!
I love everything about the Dorchester Hotel. I also love London, having lived there for around 10 years, and having two born and raised Londoners for parents. For me it represents a London imagined from the past, when decadence, glamour and beautiful design were the order of the day, and when true customer service still existed. I adore the old world feel of it, and the utter escapism it provides, enveloping you in a welcoming embrace of luxury. You can live like Elizabeth Taylor, if only for a weekend (and possibly without all the divorces).
If I had to choose a favourite out of the two hotels, it would probably be the Dorchester, but it’s a close call. Actually I’m not sure; I’ll have to re-visit them. It all comes down to personal choice, what location you prefer, and of course budget (at the time of writing, the Savoy does come in less expensive if you compare similar rooms to The Dorchester, although the prices vary according to season, availability etc).
I actually think the Savoy has the better restaurants, so that’s also a consideration, although there is excellent food to be found in both!
Whichever you choose, you can be sure of a luxurious and relaxing stay in London, which you won’t forget in a hurry.
I hope you have enjoyed this post and have been inspired to book that luxury mini break to London you’ve been meaning to!
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