My planned birthday outing for my wife was hi-jacked by my children, who insisted that they wanted the Savoy experience. This was my second time here, and the evening usually starts with drinks in the American Bar, followed by dinner in the Grill Room. Since my last visit, the River Room has closed, but the less formal atmosphere of the Grill Room is great. I prefer the bar at the Ritz. The American Bar is usually crowded on a Saturday night, and getting a seat can be a problem. Service either too fast or too slow: they ask you what you want before you have had a chance to take in all the detail of the extensive cocktail menu, and when you have ordered, it can take a while to come. Last time, the waiter spilt some drinks on me but I escaped dry this time. Drinks are expensive, with a cocktail costing about £10. Soft drinks are very expensive. I had a drink which was a mix of cranberry juic, southern comfort and other stuff. It tasted a bit like alcoholic Ribena. I think the Ritz was better for cocktails, and looked more like a bar. The Savoy looks more like a hotel foyer. The grill room is a different matter. It looks great with its fairly minimalist art deco wood style. Seating is comfortable and roomy. The Saturday night crowd was in, but there were still one or two tables to spare. The deal is that there is a three course meal for £55. Drinks and coffee are extra. When I say three courses, there are actually six, because complementary appetisers are offered before each course. I had the taster of vegetarian pate with parsnip crisps, a ravioli of king prawn, followed by a taster of cold tomato soup, followed by Cornish Lamb, followed bya sort of soupy sorbet, followed by a hot chocolate pudding. My wife had the pigeon breast and my daughters shared a superb chateaubriand which I was allowed to tast. To drink, the Champagne cart is brought around, and we had a glass of Rose champers to start (£13/glass) followed by a south african Stell
enbosch Merlot. The cheapest wine on the menu was a sicilian red at £18/bottle. I chose the second cheapest at £35/bottle, and it would have been no problem at all to have chose many bottles at the £100 mark. I am sure the cheapest would have been pretty good, and there is a school of thought which says tht the second cheapest is the one they are trying to offload. Coffee is £5/cup with petits fours. I make this sound a bit on the pricey side, but what you have to understand is that this is really good. The experience is great, and the food fantastic. It has never failed to please, and everyone agreed that they had had a really good experience. The service is terrific, and we found that our needs were anticipated, and we were not pushed into spending money we did not want to. I am looking forward to my next visit to the Grill Rooom, but might drink at the Ritz for preference.
Proudly ignoring the vagaries of hotel fashion, the grand old Savoy is still a bastion of old-time British style. Fiercesomely expensive it may be, but for service out of the top drawer, and the chance to dine amid assorted MPs in the Grill Room, and sip a Tom Collins in the equally famous American Bar, then you’ll deem it money well spent. Unusually for a London Hotel it has its own swimming pool, and the Thames-side location is perfectly placed for Covent Garden and the West End.