Few would disagree that The Savoy is one of London’s most iconic hotels. It’s been standing on Strand for 130 years. A byword for luxury, the five-star hotel isn’t just for visitors to the capital, it also has a host of dining, drinking and entertainment options for Londoners. When it comes to The Savoy’s relationship with music, it goes way back. A host of musical legends, including Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne and George Gershwin have performed in the hotel, while a more contemporary act Duran Duran have shot a music video in its hallowed halls.
Today, music is still very much part of The Savoy experience. Launching this spring is a new evening entertainment series. Live At The Savoy will kick off on 24 May 2019 in the hotel’s Thames Foyer nightly.
American singer Judi Jackson is launching the series as The Savoy’s Musician in Residence. The acclaimed jazz vocalist will begin on Wednesday 24 April and three further dates. The Virginia-born performer has recently released her debut album Live In London and tours internationally. Jackson has collaborated with Warner Music’s George Moore and Michael League, member of Grammy award-winning band Snarky Puppy, and credits Wynton Marsalis and Mavis Staples among her influences.
Also performing during Live At The Savoy will be American-born and Liverpool based soul singer/songwriter Jalen N’Gonda. He was hailed as ‘a voice full of nuances and golden songs’ at the 2018 Montreux Jazz Talent Awards and opened for Motown legends Martha And The Vandellas in Liverpool in 2015.
- Live At The Savoy with Judi Jackson: 24 April, 24 May, 20 June and 25 July.
- Live At The Savoy with Jalen N’Gonda: 9 May, 16 May (and further dates).
During the entertainment, guests can feast on the new Thames Foyer evening menu, available from 7pm. It has been inspired by The Savoy’s famous 19th century chef Auguste Escoffer, who invented the Peach Melba. The menu is divided into three sections: Prolgue (7pm-8.30pm); Story (8.30pm-10.30pm) and Epilogue (conclusion). An extensive drinks list will also be on offer.
- Live At The Savoy takes place in the Thames Foyer. At The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest stations: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Tickets: £25pp with additional minimum spend on food and drinks at £20pp. Tel: 020 7420 2111 or email. For more information, visit The Savoy website.
Launching this October is a rather special afternoon tea for families. Judith Kerr’s beloved children’s book The Tiger Who Came To Tea has been charming readers since 1968. Like many, I owned the book as a children and loved my parents reading it to me.
From this week, The Savoy hotel has teamed up with publishers HarperCollins to create a unique children’s afternoon tea inspired by the classic book as it celebrates its 50th anniversary. This food and drink extravaganza will be the five-star hotel’s first dedicated children’s afternoon tea offering in its 129 year history. The variety of treats are drawn from the tea that Sophie and her mum shared with the visiting tiger. The Savoy’s pastry team have dreamed up an enchanting menu served on bespoke chinaware inspired by the book. The stunning china will also be available to buy from Savoy Tea.
The menu is as follows:
- Sophie’s Sandwiches
Peanut Butter & Jam Bites; Red Leicester Cheese Whirl; and Honey Roast Ham Finger Sandwiches.
- Tiger Scones
Freshly-baked stripy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.
- Treats with the Tiger
Sophie’s Tights (Blue and pink Battenberg), The Milkman Special (Vanilla yoghurt, raspberry compote), Mummy’s Cookie Crumbs (Dark chocolate cookie dipped in chocolate); Tiger Food (Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting); and Owp! (Handmade marzipan tiger).
Accompanying the food will be a choice of hot or cold drink, including Vanilla Black Tea; Blackcurrant & Hibiscus Tea; Tiger Hot Chocolate (Served with cream and tiger stripes) or Orange juice.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea menu will be available for children at the first two sittings of Afternoon Tea in The Savoy’s iconic Thames Foyer. Adults may prefer the Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea and High Tea, which will continue to be offered.
- The Savoy’s special edition The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EZ. Nearest station: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. Available Mon-Fri afternoons for the first two sittings from 8 October 2018. Price: £40 per child (aged 5-12years). Dress code: Smart casual. For more information booking, visit The Savoy’s website.
For a guide to what else is on in London in February, click here.
This post is taking part in #CulturedKids, sharing cultural blog posts aimed at children. Thanks to Catherine at Cultured Wednesdays for getting me involved.
This street light down a Westminster side street is more important than you think.
Once a mainstay of Victorian streets, gas lamps have gradually been replaced by electric lighting and are a very rare occurrence today. However down one quiet London street, there is what is believed to be the capital’s only remaining sewer gas lamp. Halfway down Carting Lane at the back of The Savoy hotel, is an example of a Webb Patent Sewer Gas Lamp. The design was patented by Joseph Edmund Webb of Birmingham in the late 19th century in a bid to safely remove sewer gases from the sewers below. These gases, when built up, were hazardous and smelt dreadful. These lamps were mainly placed on slopes and hills – where sewer gases were more likely to collect. Carting Lane is a slope leading down towards the Thames from the Strand, with the sewers taking waste from The Savoy. With this in mind, it’s no surprise to hear the road has been nicknamed ‘Farting Lane’. In the 18th century up until the 1860s, the thoroughfare was known as Dirty Lane. This unfortunate name came as the lane was a cut-through for horse and carts to the nearby Salisbury Wharf. However, while the lamps removed sewer gases, they weren’t actually powered by them. The flame is lit by traditional town gas, while drawing up sewer gases from below and burning off any impurities along with the mains gas.
Unfortunately the lamp was damaged by a lorry in more recent years, but has been fully restored by British Gas engineers and can now be seen running 24 hours a day.
- The old lamppost can be found on Carting Lane (leading from The Strand to Savoy Place), Westminster, WC2R. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment or Temple.
For more of Metro Girl’s history posts, click here.
The Savoy is one of London’s most iconic hotels, synonymous with luxury and style. Having previously visiting the stunning Beaufort Bar in the hotel, I have long been eager to sample some food in one of the restaurants. Fortunately, for my recent birthday, my sister booked a table at Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill in the hotel as a surprise.
The name of the restaurant stems back to the hotel’s iconic cat Kaspar. The cat’s origins started during a fateful meal back in 1898, when South African diamond magnate Woolf Joel hosted a meal for 14 people at The Savoy. After one guest dropped out at the last minute, another diner declared it was unlucky to eat at a table for 13 and death would fall upon the first person to leave. Joel wasn’t superstitious and dismissed the notion and was the first to leave, only to be shot dead weeks later in Johannesburg. In the following years, any time there was a table of 13 at The Savoy, an extra guest was arranged by management to make up the numbers to 14. With members of staff often joining diners at the table, this often proved unpopular so in 1926, architect Basil Ionides created an art deco sculpture of a cat named Kaspar. Since then, Kaspar has joined many a group of 13 diners at The Savoy, wearing a napkin around his neck. In 2013, The Savoy‘s River Room restaurant was re-imagined as Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill.
My party of four dined at Kaspar’s on a Saturday evening in August. Unfortunately we were far from the river view, but had a nice table and booth situated in the north west corner so had an expansive view across the restaurant. Kaspar’s was decked out in stunning Art Deco interiors, with icicle-style sculptures surrounding the ornate bar, which has high stools should you prefer some informal dining. However, we were definitely being formal on this occasion.
One thing on the wine list which thrilled me was to see they had half-bottles and carafes alongside the typical glasses or bottles. I order carafes all the time when I go abroad, but I think London restaurants seriously need to step up and offer more carafes on their menus. We were a party of four, but we were split into two camps when it came to what wine we preferred. I wasn’t in the mood for drinking much so my sister and I shared a carafe of Anjou Rosé, Domaine des Cedres for £16.00, which was light and fruity and just what we needed.
The food menu was pretty extensive and our patient waiter did have to return a few times as we took so long to decide. Eventually I plumped for the Green Pea Soup with Seafood Dumpling (£9) which was a lovely consistency. The dumpling was an unusual flavour combination with the soup, which worked well. My mother, rather controversially, opted for the Chicken Liver and Foie Gras Parfait served with Grilled Sourdough Bread and Cumberland sauce (£15), but said she loved it.
For my main, I was pretty torn for choice but finally settled on the Isle Of Sky Lobster, with the option to buy half or whole. I went for the former (£22), which was served with garlic butter and lemon so you will need to order sides, such as Buttered Spinach or Cornish New Potatoes. The lobster was soft and easy to get into and tasted gorgeous with lashings of melted butter on. I also tried my sister’s Seafood Linguine, a simple, but tasty dish which is apparently quite popular for Kaspar’s diners.
Tragically, we were all pretty full and didn’t have room for dessert but had a little sugar fix with complimentary raspberry and dark chocolate lollipops. Overall, the food and drink were brilliant – there was a wide range of dishes to appease all taste. The venue was sophisticated and the service was incredibly friendly and attentive. Can recommend as a nice venue to treat yourself, or perhaps a pre-theatre meal as its located right next to The Savoy Theatre.
- Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill is located in The Savoy, Strand, Westminster, WC2R 0EU. Nearest stations: Embankment, Charing Cross or Temple. For more information, visit the Kaspar’s website.
For Metro Girl’s review of the Beaufort Bar in The Savoy, click here.
To find out about the monument to composer Arthur Sullivan in Embankment Gardens behind the hotel and his ties to The Savoy, click here.
For more of Metro Girl’s restaurant reviews, click here.
The story behind this racy sculpture in Embankment Gardens and the man who inspired it.
Sitting on reclaimed land on what used to be the River Thames stands Victoria Embankment Gardens. It’s a small pocket of greenery in the West End just a stone’s throw from the waterways located beside Embankment tube station. For many workers and tourists, it’s a nice place to have lunch, but it is often passed by. As well as playing host to a café and summer lunchtime concerts, the Gardens also feature a collection of monuments to the great and good.
One such monument is the Grade II listed memorial to legendary composer Sir Arthur Sullivan (1842-1900). Situated in the slimmer part of the gardens nearest to the north-eastern exit, it is located looking towards The Savoy Hotel. Sullivan and his frequent collaborator, dramatist WS Gilbert (1836-1911) were closely linked to The Savoy Theatre, which was built by their producer Richard D’Oyly Carte (1844-1901) in 1881 using profits from their shows. Gilbert and Sullivan’s last eight comic operas premiered at The Savoy Theatre, so it is only fitting that the Sullivan memorial is so nearby. Eight years later, The Savoy hotel opened next door, also built from profits of their opera The Mikado, which had premiered at the theatre four years previously.
Lambeth-born and Chelsea-raised Sullivan is widely recognised as one of the greatest English composers. Although best known for his operatic collaborations with Gilbert, he also wrote many operas, orchestral works, ballets, plays and hymns, among other musical compositions alone. Among his work with Gilbert included HMS Pinafore, Patience and The Pirates Of Penzance. Following an incredibly successful career and a knighthood in 1883, Sullivan died at his London flat of heart failure in November 1900, aged 58. Despite his wishes to buried with his parents and brother at Brompton Cemetery, Queen Victoria (1819-1901) ordered he be laid to rest at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Nearly three years after his death, Welsh sculptor Sir William Goscombe John’s (1860-1952) memorial to Sullivan was unveiled in Victoria Embankment Gardens by Princess Louise (1848-1939) on 10 July 1903. The monument features a weeping Muse of Music, who is so distraught her clothes are falling off as she leans against the pedestal. This topless Muse has led some art critics to describe the memorial as the sexiest statue in the capital. The sculpture is topped with a bust of Sullivan, with an inscription of Gilbert’s words from The Yeoman Of The Guard inscribed on the side: ‘Is life a boon? If so, it must befall that Death, whene’er he call, must call too soon.’ At the bottom of the pedestal is a mask of Pan, sheet music from The Yeoman Of The Guard and a mandolin inscribed with W Goscombe John A.R.A. 1903.
Meanwhile, if you come out the Gardens and cross the road, there is a memorial to his former writing partner Gilbert on the retaining river wall. It features a profile of the dramatist, two females, two wreaths and a shield. It reads: ‘W.S. Gilbert. Playwright and poet. His Foe was Folly, and his Weapon Wit.’ Gilbert died in May 1911 after suffering a heart attack in the lake of his Harrow Weald estate while trying to rescue the artist Patricia Preece, who was 17 at the time.
- Victoria Embankment Gardens, entrances on Villiers Street, Savoy Place or Victoria Embankment, Westminster, WC2R. Nearest stations: Embankment or Charing Cross. For more information and opening times, visit the Westminster City Council website.
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To read Metro Girl’s other London history blog posts, click here.
While I don’t flash the cash every night, now and again I like to treat myself. Over the past 10 years, I have been gradually working my way around the best bars and restaurants in London – many of them in the capital’s top hotels and The Savoy has been on my list of ‘must dos’ for some time. When a close friend of mine was having a hard time last week, I thought, to hell with it, lets live a little and decided to bring her to the Beaufort Bar at The Savoy Hotel to cheer her up. Those who saw the ITV documentary in 2010 charting the refurbishment and reopening of the iconic London hotel may well be tempted already. I had walked past the hotel many times over the years, but had never entered… until now.
The Savoy has been known as a by-word for grandeur for decades and is arguably one of the most famous hotels in the world – up there with The Ritz in London and Paris and The Plaza in New York. Built just off The Strand in 1889, it was Britain’s first luxury hotel, with its selling point being electric lighting and lifts and hot running water in the bathrooms – something we take for granted these days. Over the years, some of the biggest stars stayed in the hotel, including Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Charlie Chaplin… the list goes on. In recent years, the hotel was bought and closed for three years for an extensive refurbishment and renovation, re-opening in October 2010.
Anyone that has done a hop-on, hop-off bus tour or the capital may already know that Savoy Court, the small ‘road’ leading into The Savoy, is the only place in Britain where you can drive on the wrong side of the road. Cars enter on the right-hand lane , which is deemed easier to get in and out this way due to the design of the court. As Savoy Court is private property, this rule does not contravene UK driving laws… and makes mainland Europeans and Americans perhaps feel a bit more at home.
Situated on the site of hotel’s former cabaret stage, the Beaufort Bar is a new addition since the refurb, a throwback to old-fashioned glamour and styled in Art Deco black and gold. After walking through the striking lobby and Thames Foyer, we were greeted at the entrance of the Beaufort on the left by a very helpful and friendly female hostess. She guided us to an intimate ‘booth’ area against a dramatic backdrop of a gold wall. Despite being handed the menus, we didn’t look at them for several minutes as we took in the grandeur around us. A truly stunning room.The menu was extensive and included mostly vintage or original cocktails, as well as an extensive range of wines and champagne. We were all in the mood for cocktails, which are a bit pricey at around £14.50 each, but the ambiance, service and location makes it worth every penny. Our cocktails were delicious, and went down easily as we sat and chatted. At various points in the evening, we were entertained by the honey tones of a jazz vocalist on the piano, and kept our hunger at bay with the very more-ish nibbles of nuts and olives that were regularly topped up by our hostess.
So if you want to experience the high-life for the night and live another life, I can thoroughly recommend the Beaufort, which has already appeared on No.2 on the list of London’s best drinking holes on World’s Best Bars.
- Beaufort Bar @ The Savoy, Savoy Court, The Strand, Westminster, WC2R OEU. Nearest stations: Charing Cross, Embankment or Temple. Opening hours: Mon-Sat 5pm-1am. For more information, visit The Savoy website.
For a review of Kaspar’s Seafood Bar & Grill at The Savoy, click here.
For a full list of Metro Girl’s reviews of bars and restaurants, click here.