Snippets from History: The Savoy London
Snippets of Hotel History: London, Savoy, 1890
In 2000, I lived at The Savoy London and researched its history. After a few weeks I had a very clear understanding of the historical dimensions of the house, where the old courtyards have been hiding, where they are today.
These are a few lines from my notebook from August 2000:
„I enter the Savoy through its neglected back entrance, through the small doors on the banks of the Thames, the "Embankment", which are more suitable for a provincial cinema than a world-class hotel. There are no liveried doormen here, no porters take your suitcases from you, no concierge watches over his realm with Argus eyes.
I find my way through eerie corridors, kitchens and storage rooms to a corner on the ground floor, where you can still see the corners of the foundations of the old courtyard today. A moment later, when I stand up one floor in the great hall, I'm the only person who knows that this was exactly where he stood. That this was once a courtyard of gigantic proportions, in which the echoes of the horse's hooves had broken loudly on the brick walls of the huge building. That this was once the main entrance to the hotel, where everyone got off their carriages. That there was a staircase.
These horse-drawn carriages stopped right in front of it. Only when you look closely do you understand that they were driving on the right-hand side of the road. They turned into the courtyard of the Savoy in a right-handed traffic system, stopped, loaded or unloaded their passengers, ended or began their tour. Here they got off, here they got on: Oscar Wilde, Arthur Sullivan, Nellie Melba, Lady de Gray, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales. He stood at the top of the stairs and greeted them all. The king of hoteliers, the man who would revolutionize the hotel industry, who would do everything possible to make his guests happy, to fulfill even the most spoiled English snob the craziest wish to make the impossible possible: César Ritz.“
The photograph I am referring to shows an almost bold man on top of the staircase to the left: César Ritz. All characters in this picture seem to be frozen - a sign that the photographer had advised them not to move! To the left the entrance to a small florist shop.