Great Britain

Goats’ milk baths and caviar — inside the Savoy hotel where guests can get anything… as long as it’s legal

THE name is a byword around the world for style, luxury – and a damned splendid cocktail, dinner or night’s kip.

Welcome to The Savoy, Sir or Madame and, please, let us take your bags. No, no, the pleasure is all ours.

But if you fear a stay at the top London hotel is a spanking too far for your plastic, do not be downcast — you can still enjoy a taste of the high life in ITV’s four-part documentary The Savoy, which starts tonight.

It takes you behind the scenes of one of the most sumptuous shows of hospitality there is.

In the fly-on-the-wall production, butlers attend to every desire, whimsy and fantasy of the rich and famous — however extravagant or downright strange and as long as it is on the right side of the law.

The 131-year-old hotel on the banks of the River Thames has 37 butlered suites, no less, starting from £1,500 a night and escalating to a dizzying £18,000 — the sort of bill that would surely preclude much shut-eye for all but the most minted.

Head butler Sean Davoren tells The Sun: “The Savoy’s a glamorous old girl. She’s been around a long time but she still knows how to strut her stuff.”

The hotel has, throughout its gilded history, attracted the biggest VIPs on the planet — from Marilyn Monroe, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, to Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Pink and, er, Hit Me Baby One More Time singer Britney Spears.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are such fans of the place, they reportedly splashed £500,000 kitting out their home with the same super-luxe beds that guests enjoy.

‘When I trained, they hit you, threw things at you’

In a video for Duran Duran’s 2011 song Girl Panic, Naomi Campbell and fellow ex-supermodels Cindy Crawford and Eva Herzigova shot a raunchy video that showed them partying in a Savoy suite.

In the TV series, viewers see David Hasselhoff and Denise van Outen stay at the hotel — and butlers go the extra smile to please and delight, with tasks ranging from masterminding cocktail parties to polishing designer high heels. As one does.

Sean, 62, heads a crack squad of ten butlers serving clients right up the scale to the grandest of all in The Royal Suite — spread over the entire riverside of the fifth floor, with a view of the London Eye and a list of former guests that includes Princess Diana.

Sean, who started at The Savoy in 1978, is a most obliging sort of bloke, for whom nothing is a problem. He says: “I will do anything for you — as long as it’s legal.”

He recalls how one supermodel once asked him for a bathtub full of goats’ milk and Evian water.

Sean says: “Goats’ milk is easy to get, I can go to Waitrose or Fortnum & Mason and buy it. But she wanted it straight from the goat, non-pasteurised. I thought, ‘Oh my God, what am I going to do?’

“I had to send to Wales for the milk. It arrived and she said, ‘Sean, will you heat the milk to the temperature I like for my bath?’”

Master-pleaser Sean also recalls how another guest once sent him to collect a bagged-up purchase from a jewellery shop and let him unwittingly stroll down the street with a million-pound diamond ring in his pocket.

He says: “When I brought back this small bag, I took it to the gentleman and put it on his desk. He said, ‘Sean, do you know what’s in the bag?’ and I said, ‘No, Sir, I don’t know’.

"It was only a pink diamond ring worth over a million pounds. I nearly had a heart attack.

“First of all, I wouldn’t have walked in the street. Secondly, I would have had security men with me going there.”

Shocked Sean congratulated the big-shot on a beautiful piece of jewellery for his wife but reveals: “He turned around and said, ‘Oh no, Sean, that’s for my mistress’.”

The seven-storey Savoy, on the Strand, gets through £250,000 a year on flowers alone and has two-and-a-half staff per guest, while all Thames-view suites come with their own butler.

It also boasts four high-end restaurants — assuming one would rather not nip out on to the Strand for a cheeky Maccy-D’s — and is home to the oldest cocktail bar in London, the American Bar, where one drink can set you back £25.

In the documentary, we see Sean putting newbie butler Michael Peluso, 37, through the ringer to get him up to Savoy spec.

Sean says: “I’m a little bit of a tyrant. When I was being trained they would hit you, throw things at you and say, ‘You’d better do better or you won’t be working here.’ It was a good lesson but wouldn’t be appropriate now.”

Also starring in the documentary are car-firm boss Damien Cuming and his wife Jacqueline, from Cambridgeshire, who have been going to The Savoy for 26 years.

Their go-to treat there is beluga caviar, at £160 a pop, and the sky is the limit for their Savoy splurges. They stayed 20 nights last year and Jacqueline says: “We could have bought several houses.”

Likewise, accountancy firm owner Simon De-Lacy Adams has stayed at The Savoy 70 times over the past five years, has chowed down in the Savoy Grill 251 times and, for his efforts, was even presented with his own mono-grammed pillows and bathrobes.

Simon says: “My husband is not as good as a butler — the bell doesn’t work and I’m told to naff off if I ask for anything like that.”

‘It’s The Savoy, guys, not the f******g Golden Egg’

Peckish folk such as Simon can take their pick from four restaurants at The Savoy — The Thames Foyer, 200-year-old dining club Simpson’s, seafood specialist Kaspar’s and the Michelin-starred Savoy Grill.

The latter is run by Maitre D’ Thierry Tomasin, 51, whose elegant acquain-tance we make in the show.

The exacting Frenchman knows a thing or two about posh grub, with 30 years’ experience in the game.

In 1997, he once served one of the world’s most expensive meals at Michel Roux Jr’s Mayfair restaurant La Gavroche, where the bill came in at nearly £15,000.

But he insists Savoy service is just the same whether you are a big spender or watching your bill a little more closely.

He says: “I want our team to be the best every day. You need to push all the time. “Guests pay our wages.

"You’ve got guests who can afford to come every day but you have guests who save for one, two, three years in order to come to The Savoy Grill. You have to respect that.”

It must have been doing something right because, since it opened in 1904, customers have included Winston Churchill, Grace Kelly and James Dean.

Thierry says: “We are not waiters, we are salesmen of pleasure. We do the je-ne-sais-quoi but I want the ooh-la-la.”

If Thierry is general of the Savoy Grill, its field marshal is owner and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.

In the series, we see the staff nervously await his arrival to try out two new dishes and put the front-of-house team through their paces.

Each item on the menu — including a £120 beef Wellington — has been meticulously tasted and approved by the sweary gastro-king.

He is pleased with the turbot, tells kitchen staff their omelette needs more haddock — and lets fly over a chipped plate: “Put it in the fg bin. It’s The Savoy, guys, not the fg Golden Egg down the Old Kent Road.”

Waiters must immaculately flambé, carve and fillet dishes in front of diners — and while demonstrating his carving skills for Gordon, Thierry is devastated when his freshly sharpened knife has been switched for a blunt one.

Gordon is also not best pleased by the sliced duck he is served. He says: “It looks like it’s been served in my f****g granny’s Spanx.”

But Thierry takes it on the chin. He says: “For me, Gordon is the best.

"If you are not at your best, of course you might get a bollocking and rightly so. He’s got his name above the restaurant. That’s why he is a top chef.”

But will the Covid-19 pandemic knock the Savoy off its stride? The staff insist not.

Michael says: “In 130 years, if you look at the history, they’ve always adapted, whether it be world wars or what have you.

"They’ve always managed to deliver exceptional service. It’s a national institution.”

Oxo mum's son is the new butler

SAVOY trainee butler Michael Peluso is featured in the ITV docuseries learning the ropes from his team boss Sean.

Ex-actor Michael has had parts in this year’s Disney sci-fi movie Artemis Fowl and Guy Ritchie’s 2015 spy film The Man from U.N.C.L.E. but turned to butlering last year.

Michael, 37, says: “For 15 years I was trying to be an actor. I didn’t want life to pass me by while I chased the dream.

“What inspired me to want to have a career in this industry was the element of theatre.”

He says of the role of butler: “It is a character, it is a part. I wear my uniform, which is my costume.”

He got his passion for acting from his mum, the late Loose Women star Lynda Bellingham who was in TV’s Doctor Who, All Creatures Great And Small – and mum in the Oxo ads of the Eighties and Nineties.

She also starred in West End shows and would enjoy a nightcap at The Savoy after work – so the place has a special place in Michael’s heart.

He says of his mum, who died in 2014: “She had a bit of a love affair with The Savoy.

“She was in a play at The Savoy Theatre once.

“After every show my father would come to meet her and they would go for a drink in the American Bar or she would hold court with family and friends who had come to see her.”

He adds of his work there: “Tony the doorman was one of the first I got to talk to and get to know.

"He knew my mother a long time and used to look after her and make sure she got home in the taxi OK every night.”

Michael has now got his foot in the door at The Savoy – and is very much part of the team.

The Savoy - First look at new four-part ITV documentary where butlers tend to VIP guests’ every desire

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