Hotels have always fascinated me, so I had to pay a quick visit to the most iconic hotel in London: The Savoy Hotel on the Strand. There I met doorman Tony Harvey, who has been kind enough to answer a few questions about his fascinating job.
Although Tony and his colleagues are called doormen, their official title is linkmen. “Because we link the outside world to the hotel,” Tony clarifies. “The term ‘doormen’ often makes people think of big, grim looking bouncers and nightclubs, but that’s not the same thing.”
“I’ve more or less been into hotels ever since I took on my first job, which was in 1978,” he says.” I’ve sort of stumbled onto big hotels and worked my way up from page boy and luggage porter to doorman since 1990. For me it is a very interesting job. You never know who you’re going to meet… sometimes people from the news or film stars. I remember meeting Al Pacino once. I shook his hand, told him ‘nice to meet you’ and he said ‘nice to be here!’. He was very friendly and down to earth.”
Those are also character qualities you need as a doorman of a renowned five star hotel. “You’ve got to be a real people’s person as well and enjoy what you’re doing. That’s very important on this job,” Tony emphasizes. “It’s not a place you can come into half heartedly, you’ve got to put yourself one hundred percent into the job. Plus, you have to enjoy every day, and I do! The weather can be a downside in this profession though… but not at the Savoy Hotel. We’re lucky enough to be under shelter. And of course you’ve got to be able to stand on your feet for a longer period of time.”
What makes the Savoy special
“I worked at quite a few London hotels, but there is only one Savoy,” he states. “For example if you say ‘Savoy’ to a person, you don’t have to use the word ‘hotel’, because people know about it. Anywhere in the world, if you mention the Savoy, people are interested. It’s such a famous and iconic building. There’s nothing like it. There are also many well-known people who have stayed here. I remember when Muhammad Ali, the ex heavy weight boxer, was here. There was much commotion and he must’ve been outside signing autographs for at least an hour and a half. He really took the time to speak to everybody.”
Cameo in ‘Entrapment’
Tony also rubbed elbows with high class movie stars on the set of ‘Entrapment’, a movie starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. “One scene was filmed here at the front of the Savoy Hotel and I had to open the door of the car,” Tony recalls. “So to break the ice with Mr. Connery, I told him ‘just do as I do and you’ll soon get the hang of this acting business’. He laughed and we got along fine. If you want to spot me in the movie, make sure not to blink though, because you’ll miss me!” he winks.