The great day arrived and where were you? Mrs T and I both said how much you would have adored the grand opening of the Savoy after a two-year delay and about £150 million over budget. Well, nobody’s perfect. Actually strike that. Like Mary Poppins, the Savoy is practically perfect if you like hotels with grandeur, glamour, idiosyncrasy and history. As I said to ITV director Matt as Stephen Fry was driven up Savoy Court (with number plate S8 VOY) as the hotel’s first guest, it was rather an out of body experience and I have never felt minutes go by as slowly as the few ticking slowly by as we all anticipated 10.10.10.
I couldn’t help noticing as I glanced down on the pavement of Savoy Court (the only street in London where you drive on the Right) that the Savoy’s ladies of the management team were to a woman wearing the most towering black high Cha-Cha heels that would make even the hardiest of drag queens think twice. From the knees down they looked like a convention of Dominatrix Anonymous. It rather called to mind that old favourite of yours and mine that we used to dance to at Annabel’s. The chorus goes something like We Can Do it Even Better in Broken Heels: an anthem to girl power and smug self-satisfaction if memory serves me right.
I think the Savoy can quietly hum said ditty because even with the delays, the budget that exceeded the GDP of certain African countries, the tantrums and tiaras (largely coming from me), this hotel is quite simply in a class of its own. It gleams like a 1930s cruise liner. In fact, when describing the Savoy to a Telegraph journalist I was moved to call it a ‘gold-plated, mink-lined, ocean-going extravaganza’ of an interior. I think this is apt. If you want subtlety you employ John Pawson. If you want kitsch it’s Philippe Starck. If you want hubristic carbuncles you could do worse than Sir Richard Rogers. But if you want interiors with drama on an operatic scale then Monsieur Rochon is your man.
Do you approve of Stephen ‘King of the Twitterati’ Fry as our first guest in the Monet Suite? I consider him a terribly good choice. Imagine if we’d gone ahead with the Oscar Wilde Suite? Wouldn’t that have been a photo opportunity? The definitive Oscar in the 90s film Wilde co-starring Jude Law (who, if memory serves, had a marvellous way of pronouncing ‘renter’ with just the right inflection of relish and scorn) in the Savoy’s Oscar Wilde Suite. Well, it was not to be.
The Monet Suite has worked out rather well all considering. The paintings that I commissioned with Peter Millard are super as is the flower centre piece in the fireplace. I asked Belinda Bowles to imagine a bouquet in the colours of Ms garden at Giverny then have them exploding from a gilded picture frame in the fireplace. We’ve got the idea right but not the frame. Still, there is time when I am back from Toronto to reassess.
What was my highlight of 10.10.10? My better half being welcomed so elegantly by Julian and Kiaran and my team treated to lunch in the terribly elegant River Restaurant which was, by and large, gorgeous. I think the only problem was that, this being the first public service in the restaurant, the staff were clearly very keen to impress. When we informed our waiter that the salt cellar was empty, he pantomimed abject disbelief tinged with horror. Munch couldn’t have pulled a better face. Mrs T told him to ‘calm down dear’ and fetch us another one. Bless!
Another highlight was spying Celia Imrie in the Savoy Tea room. You remember Rosy from Sir Cam’s office took me to the press night of Coward’s Hayfever starring Celia a couple of weeks ago. Now I don’t usually do this, but seeing as I was wearing a discreet silver Savoy lapel pin, I tapped Miss Imrie on the shoulder and gushed about how fabulous I thought she was in the production to be rewarded with a nose-wrinkling, eye-crinkling Miss Babs of an ‘Oh how lovely of you!’
When we decided to call it a day and go home for some much-needed R&R, it was serendipity to see both Julian and Kiaran again in the lobby to say a final farewell before Toronto. I was practically teary saying au revoir to Julian who in all my professional career is the only married man I have ever come close to having what the young call a ‘Bromance’ with. I consider the man is a total star: the monarch of Sales & Marketing as I signed in a copy of Savile Row for him.
Well Rowley, it is now 7.23am on Tuesday and I’ll be shortly getting my car to Heathrow en route to Toronto. I don’t have time to tell you all about the Savile Row Field Day yesterday (a triumph) or Hatchards’ mannequin display of Sebastians to celebrate the launch of Savile Row: The Master Tailors of British Bespoke in the oldest bookshop in the world. But I can’t wait to write you another letter when I’ve arrived across the pond. Until then, here’s to the Savoy. I do so wish you could me there soon.