The Royal Savoy Hotel of Lausanne, Switzerland.
Gosh, that sounds classy!
And I guess it was, for many, many years.
It’s a huge old dinosaur of a thing, dating back to the days when upper class young people from England and the USA would still swan around Europe to be «finished ».
The Americans wanted to acquire that sheen of genteel Old World culture. According to my deep analysis of this phenomena ( which mainly involved reading the book ‘Little Women‘ several times), this sheen could only be had by sitting by a lake ( preferably a Swiss lake, but a French one might do) and painting watercolors of it.
The English, on the other hand, seemed to seek ‘continental sophistication’. This is possibly involved the ability to eat roasted horse without freaking. I’m not sure.
And this was the kind of hotel where people would do this stuff. It was very fancy and very, very expensive.
And it wasn’t just the foreigners that flocked there. It was a favorite with European aristocrats, as well. In fact, the Spanish royal family lived in the hotel throughout the entire Second World War.
It was furnished with antiques from all over Europe from the 19th, 18th and even 17th century. Very chic.
But then something happened. Two very bad somethings, actually. Major remodels and refurbishings were done in the 1960’s and again in the early 1980’s.
And this was bad. Very, very bad.
The antique wallpapers and carpets all went and all kinds of newer stuff was installed. Some antiques were kept, but many disappeared and were replaced by modern 60s and 80s stuff. Bleh.
Worst of all, 19th century landscapes were pushed out of the way in favor of 1960’s art. God help them. The stuff was darn ugly and didn’t fit at all with the spirit of the building (or the spirit of good taste).
After this frenzy….nothing. Absolutely nothing for a long, long time.
And the hotel began a decline.
It began to disappoint
The internet arrived and word began to get around even faster…the Royal Savoy was musty, sad, shabby and far too expensive for what it offered. A client review from 2009 on one travel site called it a « smelly, dusty, run down big hotel ». Another person remarked « We were expecting a nice hotel but in fact it is an old, smelly and antiquated hotel ».
The « Grand Old Dame » had become a « crazy old homeless woman with ragged clothes and distinctly bad body odor ».
I guess it’s a good thing, then, that the place was sold recently.
And the new owners, Barwa Real Estate of the tiny (but rich!) nation of Qatar, had big plans.
Their first plan was to clear the whole place out. Everything would have to go: furnishings, bathroom fixtures, dishes, paintings, ashtrays, etc.
How would it all be gotten rid of?
It would be auctioned off.
And just who would buy this stuff?
Well….my husband would.