Same Building, New Hotel - in Kansas City
Don and I rarely return for a second stay at any hotel. We're just too eager to experience all the curious places we haven't seen.
But, when we heard that Hotel Savoy was reopening as a 21c Museum/Hotel, we knew this could be a whole different kind of Notable Night!
Hotel Savoy, Est. 1888
Four years ago, the entrance to Hotel Savoy was both lovely and creepy. The shiny doors and stained glass windows were splendid. The window next to the arch, hinted at something else.
However, we had a great stay in the worn out hotel. The dining was actually pretty fabulous!
We were sad to learn, (about a month after our 2014 stay) that The Savoy had closed down, after a fire.
A New Look
This is how the entrance looked when we arrived this September. (photo credit -Deborah Berke Partners)
Some of the stained glass was gone, but the entrance and valet parking staff was very welcoming. The new hotel had only been open about 6 weeks.
It was the interior changes that truly jolted me.
The creepy hall that we once entered, had become a double-sided art installation, titled Linear Sky.
The glowing hallway ramp took us to the "lobby" counter. The stark white walls and simple desk, sort of disappointed me.
But the young men with their laptops, greeted us with much enthusiasm. It was a much friendlier check-in experience than we'd had 4 years before.
Keep Your Eyes on the Train
As we checked in, we studied our first piece of art in the Art Museum/Hotel.
3 trains, on 3 tracks, were mounted on the wall behind the counter. When the 3 moving trains became aligned, images on the train cars revealed a set of eyes! Clever!
To the left of the desk, was a gallery space that I recognized as the reception area, where we'd once checked in.
The stained glass dome was now dim, but the purple & green, glass chandelier hung brightly. It was odd to see the frosted glass behind the ornate window bars. There was no grumpy check-in clerk, this time.
I chatted with the young man at the modern desk, about the changes. He agreed with me, that it was a shame to have no light coming through the old skylight.
We ended up having a fun conversation and I shared my old blog write-up with him, on his laptop. He had never been in the hotel, before its renovation.
I was eager to see what this whole 21c concept was about! The idea of old properties being refurbished (in 8 cities) to exhibit art and to house and feed guests, totally pleased me. The news that these museums/hotels also housed penguin mascots, totally delighted me!
The mascot color for the Kansas City hotel was Sky Blue and I was darn excited to find this blue penguin standing right behind me... and all over the hotel.
Before even finding our room, Don and I took in some of the art.
There were permanent installations as well as a temporary exhibit, involving a theme of Refuge.
As we studied the displays on the walls, I also found myself staring at the floor's tile design, which I remember fondly... and the beams and pillars that were now painted white.
On the second floor, music played as we wandered more gallery rooms. The paintings and films and sculptures were thoughtful and touching and often very sad.
I was a little excited to see the swirling pastels on the wall, when our elevator opened to the third floor. We welcomed the colorful mood lift.
Penguins Here and There
The sweet blue mascots were a cheerful break from the serious art. We never knew where we might find one.
One blue guy rode the elevator with us. We saw another parked in front of someone's door.
Our Deluxe King room was full of surprises.
There was no Granny decor, like 4 years ago. No window unit. No wooden coat rack. No wallpaper and lace.
We entered our room and stepped into a hallway. The bathroom was to the right and the window on the left, faced an atrium. I spotted a skylight above and workout room, below.
The windows in our guest room were frosted. I had to climb a chair to get a view of the brick buildings. We could have paid more for a city view, but we were fine with the odd views.
I loved it that we had our own penguin art above our bed.
Across from the bed we had a nice little set up near the TV, with a fridge and Nespresso coffeemaker. Gotta love that pink interior, sliding shelf!
"Sleep with art. We won't tell."
Those were the words printed on the bottom of our key packet. I took the advice and put the comical, Do Not Disturb Man on the door knob and lounged in bed with some art.
There was no bible in the drawer, but there was a book beside the bed, filled with quotes from famous artists. And when I turned on the TV, it was set on a station with art films. I couldn't get away from art if I wanted to. I was pretty content, especially in my lounging robe.
The bathroom was lovely, with wonderful Malin+Goetz bath amenities. But the rubber ducky in the shower, just frustrated me.
There was no tub, so I gave the yellow guy a swim in the sink... which by the way is the same refurbished sink from the original hotel.
Dining at 21c
The new hotel has kept the Savoy name for its restaurant and lounge. However it looks nothing the same.
This is how the art filled restaurant looks today. The lovely molded ceiling was hidden behind glowing, curved, panels. A penguin stood guard.
Breakfast in 2014
Today's restaurant was once the hotel's barbershop. 4 years ago, the space was used for breakfast and we feasted beside the stained glass, on white tablecloths.
Our breakfast back then, was included with our hotel stay. Waiters in white, served everything from Oysters Rockefeller to caviar! A strange contrast to our non-luxurious hotel room.
Savoy Grill... Now the Lounge
Although the fire of 2014 started in the kitchen, much of the Savoy Grill was saved. I was so glad to see the dark, wood pillars and green bar stools.
The tables with white linens were replaced by lounge chairs, but the feel of the place was the same.
The western murals and stained glass looked just as I remembered.
The cozy booths once again made me wonder about all the famous guests who sat in them since 1905... Harry S. Truman, Vincent Price, John D Rockefeller.
The Bar in 2014
Don and I have good memories of Savoy Grill's bar, chatting with the bartender in his bowtie. I believe his grandparents had worked at The Savoy.
Maybe his grandfather waited on my table when I ate at The Savoy with my grandmother in the 1970's. Even back then, I remember feeling like I had stepped back in time, when we dined.
No Bowties Today
There were no bowties behind the bar, but lots of suspenders and beards.
It got incredibly busy and it was amazing to watch the bartender's multi-tasking skills.
The bar got livelier as the evening passed. I laughed with the woman next to me about the cute, pineapple-topped skewer, holding my olives.
Don chatted with the bartender, about his pineapple arm tattoo. We were surrounded by interesting and friendly people.
Where Did the Penguins Go?
My new friend, Rashida and I decided we wanted to have a penguin join us at the bar. I offered to find us one, but the penguins suddenly seemed to be missing. We had a Penguin Mystery.
Rashida's friend went to inquire. It seems that a Taylor Swift concert had caused the hotel to have a higher number of young people. The kids were evidently hogging the penguins! Luckily we were able to track down one penguin in the dining room and borrowed him for a while.
Don and I kept it easy and ordered dinner at the bar. The chef did an amazing job with our simple meal of salads and burger.
Before heading up to our room, we wandered a bit, enjoying the lively feel of the hotel. I made sure to check out the glowing hall before we got in the elevator. It looked totally different.
Our stay at this Kansas City landmark, was so different than before, it demanded a new write-up.
It's hard for me to imagine what my reaction would have been to the hotel, if I hadn't been so busy comparing every detail. So much of my enjoyment was recognizing the floors and doors and the hidden history along with all the wildly modern decor and art.
A part of me definitely mourned the old hotel, odd as it was. But I am so grateful for the 21c renovation, bringing a whole new life and energy to a place that could have just closed forever. What will I remember most? The whimsical stuff and of course those sweet blue penguins!
Hotel Savoy Write-Up from 2014:
My New Year's Resolution for 2014 was to start documenting some of the memorable overnights I've had in some very odd and curious motels and hotels. Like the adventures in my Dining Blog, I have learned to enjoy the surprises that happen when you step out of the comfort zone, far away from the well-known chains.
I began with a few entries recalling my very first home away from home memories from my youth. Then, I started sharing about some of the quirky and unforgettable motels, hotels and inns that my husband and I have discovered in recent years.
The best part about this challenge was making some lists with Don and getting on the road in search of new overnight adventures. I gave myself a 2-year goal to write up 90 stories and the goal was met. Now we just keep on adding!