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London Hotels

The Savoy Group modernizes

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The Savoy Group owns several classic hotels that Londoners regard as part of their municipal patrimony, and has recently modernized them—thankfully without violating their original spirit. The chief beneficiary is The Connaught . This boutique hotel, which opened in 1897 and is universally regarded as one of the most secure and discrete addresses in Mayfair, enlisted prominent designer Nina Campbell to restore the ground-floor Drawing Room, impart the finishing touches to a brand-new fitness center, and completely redo many bathrooms and suites. In the latter, she has relied on large blocks of color and texture: grand but unfrilly window treatments, drifts of Irish linen, highlighted moldings. Tapestrylike fabrics maintain a touch of tradition.

Claridge's , around the corner, is another story altogether. A vision out of Evelyn Waugh's novels and originally designed by the firm Earnest George and Yeats, its lobby and reception rooms were designed in high-Deco style in the late twenties. Recently, the bar was rather vampishly remodeled by David Collins, and now Thierry Despont is brightening up the reception rooms with silvers and whites and a gigantic chandelier by that one-man glass avalanche, Dale Chihuly. It's a ball of a thousand writhing snakes--at once tasteless and delightful.

The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL; 44-20-7499-7070. Claridge's, Brook Street, Mayfair, W1A 2JQ; 44-20-7629-8860. www.savoy-group.co.uk/connaught.html

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