WOMAN'S WEEKLY|October 06, 2020
It made guests feel like stars and hosted London’s most lavish entertainments. We raise a toast to the early days of the iconic Savoy hotel

The Savoy, Britain’s first luxury hotel, opened in 1889. The Savoy’s mastermind was theatre impresario Richard D’Oyly Carte (above). A serial risk-taker and showman, he was already one of Victorian Britain’s biggest success stories as the producer of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas.

Using profits from The Pirates of Penzance and HMS Pinafore, he had built the Savoy Theatre on the Strand. It opened in 1881 with Gilbert and Sullivan’s hit, Patience.

His talent as a theatre producer made him a pioneering hotelier when the Savoy opened four years later. He thought of a hotel in terms of staging and performance, so from the moment a guest arrived, they’d feel like the star attraction. Smartly dressed doormen would welcome guests into the expansive marble lobby, the bar and restaurant had unnecessary flights of steps to create drama on entering, and full evening dress had to be worn for a sense of occasion.

The D’Oyly Carte legacy

Living and working at the Savoy, the family were still involved with the hotel until 1985.


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October 06, 2020