Savoy

 
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Oscar Wilde slept here...with Bosie
A true London landmark, opened in 1889 as London's first electrically lit hotel (and the first with a lift), greatly expanded in 1904 (architect Thomas Collcutt) and then again to splendid art deco effect in 1929 (Howard Robinson). Following a three-year 100m makeover, the hotel reopened in October 2010, its wow factor preserved and amplified. Dreary aspects were ripped out and replaced by sympathetic contemporary fittings and floorings. 268 suites and rooms with Edwardian and deco styles to choose from, many featuring a view of the Thames. Much hotel lore was invented here, and there's a museum (the only one of its kind in Europe) to tell you what you might like to know, including starry guests. A-list overnighters include Marlene Dietrich, Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, Josephine Baker, Coco Chanel, Judy Garland, Maria Callas, Marlon Brando and the Beatles. And Noël Coward, H.G. Wells and George Gershwin were often seen dining and drinking here. In 1930 the hotel published the still-in-print Savoy Cocktail Book, by Harry Craddock, who left the States during Prohibition and who, during the 20s and 30s, was the star barman at the American Bar, which was totally reinvented in the 70s. Other hotel features include the Savoy Grill, a river-view ladies-who-lunch restaurant and the new Beaufort Bar — an atmospherically lit black-walled bar devoted to champagne. An extraordinary one-off hotel, with prices to match.

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