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‘A real triumph, beautifully written, with many wonderful stories of the Savoy.’ Lady Anne Glenconner, author of Lady in Waiting

‘An elegantly crafted, yet spritely and sparkling book, perfectly befitting its subject.’ – Ophelia Field, author of The Favourite

In three generations, the D’Oyly Carte family pioneered the luxury hotel and the modern theatre, propelled Gilbert and Sullivan to lasting stardom, made Oscar Wilde a transatlantic celebrity, inspired a P. G. Wodehouse series, and popularised early jazz, electric lights and Art Deco.

Following the history of the iconic Savoy Hotel through three generations of the D’Oyly Carte family, The Secret Life of the Savoy revives an extroardinary cultural legacy.

“For The Gondoliers-themed birthday dinner, the hotel obligingly flooded the courtyard to conjure the Grand Canal of Venice. Dinner was served on a silk-lined floating gondola, real swans were swimming in the water, and as a final flourish, a baby elephant borrowed from London Zoo pulled a five-foot high birthday cake.”


A thoroughly entertaining account of some of London's most treasured history, with its beloved The Savoy at the heart of a fascinating and delightful plot. Bravo to Olivia Williams and her fantastically colourful cast of characters.
Lady Kinvara Balfour, director and producer
Whether it's The Beatles being blocked from entry or Marilyn Monroe sipping tea in a daring dress, London's Savoy Hotel has seen its share of intrigue and controversy for more than a century. Olivia Williams reveals its most decadent moments.
You Magazine
A new book by Olivia Williams is to be welcomed as a reminder that "at their height", the D'Oyly Cartes ranked as "the greatest impresarios and hoteliers in the world" - as dynamic, innovative and powerful in their way as any of today's media dynasties.
Daily Telegraph
An elegantly crafted, yet spritely and sparkling book, perfectly befitting its subject. Williams uses group biography to beautifully illuminate some of London's greatest hotel and theatre landmarks.
Ophelia Field, author of The Favourite
This is a fascinating story, and it could not be better told. Elegant, great fun, and with a finely-judged personal touch: much like the Savoy hotel itself.
Laura Thompson, biographer of Agatha Christie and the Mitford Sisters
A feast of gloriously eccentric and compelling characters... a veritable cornucopia of explanations and clarifications... endlessly compelling.
Mike Leigh, director of Gilbert and Sullivan biopic 'Topsy-Turvy'
Williams writes with authority and style, making her ideal to chronicle the story of the Savoy.
Richard Vines, Bloomberg
A cracking good read and a fascinating story that - amazingly - has not been told before.
Fiona Duncan, the Telegraph
The story of how one family's vision shaped not only a British institution but the very idea of luxury. From Belle Epoque scandals to Hollywood gossip, and from kitchen politics to corporate swashbuckling, Williams' writing is deliciously alive with the type of behind-the-scenes drama that will transport you back in time.
Francesca Cartier Brickell, author of 'The Cartiers'
From Churchill to the real 007 via the suffragettes - an unbelievable reel of secrets is revealed
A transportive story
This sumptuous book offers a delicious insight
The Sun
Delves into the 5 star hotel's illustrious history, from Oscar Wilde's weekly £6,000 bills to whisky heir Thomas Dewar's 40 YEAR stay
Daily Mail
A real triumph, beautifully written, with many wonderful stories of the Savoy
Lady Anne Glenconner, author of LADY IN WAITING
A remarkable biography
The Eastern Eye
A fascinating glimpse into the past. . . Williams' biography is informative and hugely entertaining, painting a deliciously decadent picture of the glamour, theatre and scandal that surrounded the D'Oyly Cartes.
Culture Fly
Rich with details, both serious and frivolous, and deftly sets the story of this singular institution in the context of the greater forces of English history.
The New York Times