Hotel Savoy Restaurant
It seems scarcely credible that until the Savoy Restaurant was opened, there was no place where society could sup after the play; not a single restaurant in all London where a man could take his wife or daughter. Small wonder that the fame of the great restaurant soon went abroad, and when the Opera Supper became known, the only difficulty, often an insuperable one, was to find room for all the guests who wished to avail themselves of it. "Supper at the Savoy" became a kind of institution among the smart, and up to midnight the Embankment became lively with the carriages of the great world taking up and setting down at the restaurant entrance of the Hotel. Very shortly after, dinner on Sunday evenings became the fashion, and tended largely to enliven the dulness of our British Sabbath. In a word, the Savoy became the fashion, and those who left it at midnight returned the next day to lunch on the sunny balcony overlooking the Thames and the Embankment Gardens.
It is almost difficult to realise what Society did without the fashionable restaurant, where visitors, while enjoying the most exquisite dishes, could look round upon the tables at which a cosmopolitan assemblage of guests was almost always to be seen. Usually of the highest rank, it was dotted here and there with American and African millionaires, stars of the Paris and English stage and opera, in fact, some of the most interesting people in the world, those at whom everybody was wanting to "have a good look." Is it surprising that the fame of the Savoy went abroad throughout the civilised world? Let us take as a sample one evening in November, when the guests dining there included the following: --
As may be imagined the famous Restaurant affords a good study to the linguist. French is quite as often heard as English, German frequently, Russian occasionally. At one moment the softest and most high-bred of voices sounds pleasantly in the ear of the listener. In the next the pretty high-pitched American voice, refined in intonation. A moment later, a piece of the latest fashionable Paris slang is presented to the attentive philologist, and Paris high-class slang is a complete study in itself. Soon after, some high German Transparency will appear upon the scene, speaking French in true Vaterland fashion, the d pronounced as t, the b as p. Hindostanee may be the next tongue to fall upon the ear, as some great Indian potentate approaches, followed by his turbaned suite.
Merely to give an idea of the variety of nationalities represented by the guests at the Savoy Hotel, the following list of those who, among many others, have put up there, may serve. It is taken at random from the books where entries of all visitors are made: --
To find one-self amidst this va et vient from all the corners of the earth is a fascinating experience. On one sunny morning, as we leaned over the little balcony at the top of the steps in the quadrangle, we saw the great Sarah Bernhardt come out, enter her carriage, and drive away. We heard her exquisite voix d'or as she thanked the attendant for carrying her parcels. Immediately after, a splendidly appointed carriage drove up, and was entered by the Duc and Duchesse de Luynes, both as busy as they could be about the marriage of Princess Helene of Orleans and the Duc d'Aosta. "Monseigneur,"' the Duc d'Orleans, always made the Savoy his headquarters before his marriage, and still does so when in London. On the occasion of his sister's marriage the quadrangle suggested pages and pages of the "Almanach de Gotha."
The Duc was suffering from the effects of an accident at the time, and went by water the whole way from the Savoy to Orleans House, which had been lent for the marriage by Mr. Cunard. On the evening of the wedding-day there was a royal dinner party at the Savoy, which was certainly a unique event in the history of hotels. It took place on June 25th, 1895, and among the forty-two guests there was not one under the rank of a Serene Highness.
It was by no means the Duke of Cambridge's first visit to the Hotel. He has presided at a great number of regimental dinners there. It was at the Savoy, too, that the late Duke of Clarence made some of his most successful speeches, as Chairman of the Royal Albert Orphan Asylum.
It is doubtful if such an assemblage of French nobility ever before mustered at an English hotel as on the occasion of the funeral of the Comte de Paris in September, 1894. At the Savoy were
The Savoy Hotel is almost as well known to Parisians as to Londoners. The Paris Figaro once said of it that it was in "le plus beau qiiartier de Londres" and that it was the resort of the "élite de la société anglaise et de la colonic étrangé re, la plus exigeante du monde."
Some wonderful entertainments have been given at the Savoy. People still talk of the splendid ball given by the late Mrs. Ayres. In June, 1896, Mrs. W. Portal gave a magnificent dance, at which were present
Mrs. Northcote gave a very brilliant fancy ball; Mrs. F. T. Mackay a very smart and successful afternoon concert, and Mrs. Vagliano a splendid ball that cost over £5,000.
Mr. and Mrs. Hwfa Williams entertained one hundred and fifty guests at dinner on the occasion of the opening of Niagara. They included
Mrs. Pawley's ball, with five hundred guests and a cotillion, was another instance of the making of social history at the Savoy. The list of those who have entertained there includes such names as
During the season of 1898 a very brilliant dinner and dance were given. The tables were all decorated with flowers of a different colour. Red roses adorned that at which the Duchess of Devonshire and Lord Rosebery sat. Pink roses and sweet peas were the blossoms chosen for that of Lily, Duchess of Marlborough, and her compatriot, the Duchess of Manchester; and green orchids with tinted foliage brightened additionally the table that accommodated the Duchess of Leeds, Lady Hartopp and Lady Granby.
In 1899, besides many of the above,
"Society and Restaurants", By Mrs. Humphry, "Madge," of Truth.
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