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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Beaufort Bar at the Savoy, Strand


After three years and a mega-makeover, The Savoy is back in business... big time! The queue for its classic American Bar is worthy of the Harrods sale and stars are piling in: Bon Jovi, Take That and Jude Law have all been spotted, I hear. Was the squillion pound makeover worth it? Judging by the public areas, they could have saved themselves a few bob and hired Justin and Colin. As evidence, I offer you the Savoy Tea gift shop - more suited to a Harry Potter theme park than a chic hotel - cheap chocolate box lid 'art' and piss-poor portraits of old Hollywood stars, or the frowsy Thames Foyer with its ugly patterned carpet and gauche focal metal centrepiece (above) wherein a grand piano and two vast Ming(in') vases are imprisoned. Birdcage? Recycled park bandstand? A Wendy House in which to park your silver-spooned brats while you take afternoon tea and talk through whether to ship the little angels 'orff' to Eton or Fettes? Al Fayed’s froufrou Paris Ritz seems chic compared to some of the ghastly gubbins dumped on the poor old new Savoy. But avert your gaze, swing left... et voilà! Tricked out in black and shimmering golds, seductively lit, its tables sensibly spaced, the hotel's brand new Beaufort Bar stacks up as one of London’s great rooms. Its focal point, a theatrical bar - set on the stage where musicians in tails once played Stompin’ At The Savoy as bobbed flappers shimmied below - turns out cracking cocktails: Sugar Strut, Patience (Gary Barlow’s fave tipple?), The Real McCoy (bourbon, ginger wine and sherry over ice) and The Savoy’s signature White Lady are all dandy. 'Ouch!' expensive, they come with free nibbles and nightly cabaret. Service is suitably five star. "Will you be dining with us?" asks the maitre d' as we make to leave. "No, I have a reservation at Tinello and I'm running late." "No problem. We'll ring them and let them know you'll be with them presently." Classy! Designery friends rate the Beaufort' Bar's decor ‘tacky.’ I hear them but I can't help but love its OTT Gulf States glam aesthetic and the waitresses' flouncy dresses - think woeful wannabe chanteuse Edith in Allo Allo - never fail to amuse. If Dolce and Gabbana designed a salon for my wake, this would be it. That, or a set for a Ferrero Rocher commercial. 
The Savoy, Strand, WC2 7836 4343