Double doors are undeniably decadent. Such is the entrance that sets the tone of the Royal Suite at The Savoy – accessed through not one pair, but two. First, a set made from lustrous dark wood, opening onto two gold alcoves flanked by huge urns and greyhound statues; second, a pair of sliding white doors that reveal the full glories within.
The Royal Suite is nothing short of exhausting. Its size, ‘equipment’ and potential for entertaining and entertainment all beg at least a long weekend to fully appreciate. Living, dining, bathing, dressing and sleeping are each afforded their own expansive territories, stacked one after another along a corridor in the same polished wood as the first double doors. This linear layout is equally overwhelming, but is accompanied by seating between each of the spaces (should the five-metre walk to the next feel all too much), and a remarkable view that runs the full length.
Playing a game of sardines is essential here
On the fifth of the hotel’s seven floors, it overlooks the South Bank, with everything from the City to Westminster and well beyond in sight. It is dominated by the London Eye, almost opposite, and becomes all the more spectacular at night. Size may not be everything in life, but in this case, it certainly does help. This is not the most technologically advanced suite, but that fact proves hardly relevant in the face of other statistics: four sofas and two oversized chandeliers in the living room; 48 cushions; eight shower jets; six wardrobes, each of which I was able to stand in and comfortably raise my arms in any direction; and a £40,000 mattress, London’s most expensive, courtesy of Savoir beds.
There is a golden, celebratory grandeur to this space. While the suite can be configured for a second adjoining bedroom, its primary set-up is for just two – and entertaining. Far from the realms of minibars, in the living room is a beautiful Art Deco bar where a bartender can come to mix drinks in private, with a sink and champagne bucket set into the surface itself. There are also cabinets fully stocked with wines and champagnes, spirits, six of every type of glassware, plus decanters and shakers to match. The only thing ‘mini’ about this arrangement is a fridge dedicated to a set of chilled martini glasses.
Behind the scenes are two areas that back onto the main corridor for the discreet service: a chef’s kitchen, with a mirrored door that opens to serve the eight-seat dining table surrounded by more mirrors and trellising; and another for ironing.
When entertaining, playing a game of sardines is essential here. But once your guests have been found and gone home, there’s a Versailles-worthy palace to run around in. There are more slim, mirrored double doors between each room along the corridor, and I can confirm there is nothing more fun than running down and throwing them open in quick succession. Except, perhaps, revelling in the need to shout and gesticulate wildly with aircraft signals to communicate down the aisle from the living room to the speck of a person standing in the bedroom at the other end.
This is a dilemma that the 24-hour butler assigned to the suite also faces – “we ring but the suite is so big that people often don’t hear the telephone”. Welcoming touches from ours, Richard, included flowers, fruit and sweet treats personalised with our past magazine covers. A word of warning: when polished to the highest standard and coupled with supreme excitement, the floors create something of a trip hazard. Fortunately, any convalescence could barely be more comfortable with all those cushions of various sizes and textures.
Those seeking a brief change of scene might visit one of the hotel’s two bars. The American Bar serves informal tipples accompanied by live piano (Royal Suite guests have exclusive use of its private Royal Circle). The Beaufort Bar offers high glamour and experimental cocktails: The Impressionist lives up to its name, served with dry ice fog in a nod to the misty cityscapes Monet once painted while staying at The Savoy. The best seats in the house are four bar stools set on a stage with a view of all the action and in the good company of its bartenders.
But with a bar of your own upstairs, the only question is where to choose next for sardines. I recommend a rather secret ledge behind the farthest curtain in the bedroom, which otherwise just conceals a small urn. Only giggling with glee could possibly give you away.
The Royal Suite, from £14,500 per night, room only, www.fairmont.com.