Wednesday, December 22, 2010
The Savoy: Gleam, luxe, a billionaire prince... and then Stephen Fry
The prince, a member of the Saudi royal family, arrived with a huge entourage. In a coach. We learned from his Savoy-assigned butler in the royal suite (price: £10k a night) that he had demanded white slippers in place of the black (or vice versa), liked Melba toast (or was that someone else?) and didn't wish to be disturbed before his rather late rising at 2pm every day. If he wished to eat out, every table of the establishment was booked in his name. He might however change his mind at the last minute and go elsewhere. He likes curry.
The prince didn't say much. He and Prince Charles kissed cheeks at the relaunch ceremony. I'm afraid any good feeling I might have had about the Savoy refit was blown away by the arrival of Stephen Fry, appointed the hotel's blogger in residence: cue free suite. A man with long unkempt hair, creased jacket and trousers, and the mouldy aura of a panto professor, stepped into a world of gleam and luxe: hello Mr Fry. He oozed a pus-like unctuous awe as he was ushered into a blue lift. Not once did he desist in his obsequious wittering, sadly confused with charm. What won't he do to annoy me?
One evening in the Savoy's American Bar, a few years back, I was astonished to see virtually every Fleet St newspaper editor knocking back drinks at one of their regular get-togethers. That was the first time I went off the Savoy.