Puppydog tails — 12 May 2009

The Savoy overlooking the River Thames and one of London’s best-known hotels since it opened its doors in 1889, where the dry martini is thought by some to have been invented in the American Bar and where a murder took place back in 1923, opens soon after a £100 million refit. Apparently the building with its distinct Art Deco style is to be restored to combine its former glory with modern amenities.

Under the new plans the hotel will be divided into Art Deco and Edwardian areas and the style in each will be distinct. In 1910 the external balconies were enclosed in order to add bathrooms to each room. Many felt the best views in the building were lost, including the view that Claude Monet painted while staying there.

Last year much of the original internal fittings were auctioned including 200 beds, curtains, a large oak parquet dance floor and an early 20th Century mahogany and gilt metal bureau from the Monet suite in addition the signature pink and white Savoy china also went under the hammer. So CabbieBlog will be interested if this is an improvement, or some tacky expensive makeover.

As a footnote Savoy Court, pictured, is the only street in the United Kingdom where vehicles are required to drive on the right, and in addition the small roundabout needs a turning circle of 25 feet, this is still the legally required turning circle for all London cabs. For more than 100 years now vehicles, be they horse drawn or mechanical, have entered and left Savoy Court on the right-hand side of the road.  When approaching and leaving the hotel it is easier to do so while driving on the right-hand side of the road. Savoy Court is privately owned property. It is not a public thoroughfare as it leads only to the hotel itself. Therefore driving on the right-hand side of the road does not contravene British traffic regulations.

Finally, it may be of interest to note that when being chauffeured in a horse-drawn carriage the lady or dignitary would traditionally sit behind the driver. By approaching the hotel on the right-hand side of the road, either the chauffeur or the hotel’s doorman was able to open the door without walking around the car. This would allow the lady to alight from the carriage and walk straight into the hotel.

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