Savoy refurbishment set
Dubai, December 15, 2007
One of London's top hotels is closing for a multi-million dollar refurbishment, a spokeswoman said.
The Savoy, where guests have included artist Claude Monet, former prime minister Sir Winston Churchill and pop group the Beatles, is selling off some 3,000 items of furniture ahead of the refit at an auction.
The five-star hotel overlooking the River Thames opened in 1889 and was updated in the 1930s to reflect contemporary fashions.
But it will now undergo a 100 million pound (140 million euro, $202 million) facelift to take it into the 21st century.
Auctioneers Bonhams is holding a three-day sale in London from Tuesday at which furniture and fittings from the hotel, including chandeliers, a grand piano, butlers' trays and its dancefloor, will be sold to the highest bidder.
The sale, which also features more mundane items such as curtains and beds, is expected to net over one million pounds.
The closure and refurbishment, confirmed to AFP by a hotel spokeswoman, comes two years after the Savoy was bought by US-based hotel and resort chain Fairmont. It is expected to reopen in 2009.
'Our intention is to restore what is best, what makes the Savoy, not to destroy any of the atmosphere that makes this place so special to so many people,' the hotel's general manager Kieran MacDonald told the Guardian newspaper.
The history of the hotel is dotted with colourful anecdotes -- it is thought that the dry martini was invented in its American bar, while Monet is believed to have painted his famous pictures of the Thames from his room there. Reuters