The Savoy Finally Reopens in London

The only time I was on the Strand during my recent visit to London, I was walking from Picadilly Circus to One Aldwych, completely hung over. The only thing I stopped for was a tea at one of the seemingly hundreds of Pret-a-Mangers. From point A to point B, there was really nothing on the Strand worth stopping for, but had I actually taken off my sunglasses and looked around, I would have noticed the grand entrance of the newly refurbished Savoy hotel, which officially opened for business this past Sunday.

First opened back in 1889, the Savoy was not only famous for its glitterati—the Prince of Wales, Dame Nellie Melba, even Sandra Bernhardt—but for how innovative it was for its time. The hotel was one of the first to have “ascending rooms” (what we now know as elevators) and rooms featuring en suite baths. The Savoy has an iconic reputation in London, and those who’ve stayed at the hotel return home with stories, in that Vegas sort of way. When it closed down for the past three years, affluent hearts were broken.

Thanks to world-renown designer Pierre Yves Rochon, the $100 million restoration program pumped life back into the fancy public areas and the hotel’s 268 rooms without compromising its Edwardian-meets-Art Deco aesthetic. In addition to restoration, guests can look forward to 38 brand-new river suites, which offer views of the River Thames, as well as the Beaufort Bar built on the original cabaret stage.

An added bonus: butlers are now “green” butlers. Not only will they bend over backwards for your every request, but they are required to know “all things green” about London. I’m assuming this is eco-related, but considering I’ve worked at a high-end hotel and know what some guests really have on their mind (it has nothing to do with parks), interpretation is up for grabs.

Travel Dispatch: London’s One Aldwych Hotel Spa

London can be draining. On my recent trip, I biked for hours through the city center (the mode of transport du jour) and survived the nightlife scene with mid-morning taxi rides and sore feet to show for it. Riding the tube required elbowing, standing, and jostling. And while worth every minute, I also found myself desperately needing to carve out some time away from the trench-coated masses. I was, proverbially, knackered. While some Londoners go straight to the pub to relieve stress, I had a bathrobe, massage, mood lights, and hot tea in mind. I was thinking along the lines of popular spas like Urban Retreat Harrods or Sanderson, but several locals suggested One Aldwych. Always trust the natives.

The Spa at One Aldwych, a boutique hotel and member of Leading Small Hotels of the World, is small and incredibly cozy. In addition to the 18-meter, chlorine-free pool, there are three treatment rooms, an all-hours, fully-equipped fitness center, and a steam room/sauna. I totally got my detox on with a deep massage (I was completely taken aback by how my small-framed masseuse, Julie, was able to conquer the knots in my back – I’ll never judge again).

The spa is offering new treatments, mostly facials that incorporate the luxury facial line Natura Bisse, which is only used at select high-end spas in the city. It was a reasonable way of recharging, although a post rub-down pint afterward was inevitable.