The Savoy: Decadent yet superstitious hotel

The Savoy is a luxurious hotel on the site of an old palace, also known as The Savoy. The original palace was granted to Peter of Savoy by Henry III. It remained as a residence for various notables and royals until 1381, when the majority of buildings were destroyed in the Peasant's Revolution.

Later renovations saw it rejuvenated as a hospital for the poor, a military hospital and barracks. By the 17th century the area had gone completely downmarket and was a notorious den of thieves, ripe for a makeover.

This rebirth arrived in the form of Richard D'Oyly Carte in the mid-1880s. D'Oyly Carte, also famous for his work in opera with Gilbert and Sullivan, built one of the most luxurious and contemporary hotels the world had ever seen, with guests enjoying electricity to power their lights and lifts.

The renowned Savoy Theatre was built alongside the hotel to house the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. The trio collaborated on 13 of G&S's best known works, collectively known as The Savoy Operas. They include The Pirates of Penzance and The Mikado.

Having undergone a massive refurbishment, the Savoy reopened in 2010. While everything is now brand spanking new, some old traditions remain, including Kaspar, a cat statue who joins dinner parties of 13 to ward off bad luck. As the distinguished 14th guest, he's served the same food as them.

The tradition dates to the 1920s when an unfortunate aristocrat sneered at the superstition and ate with 12 friends. He was the first to leave the table and died unexpectedly in a car accident a few weeks later. Not wanting the bad press, The Savoy instigated Kaspar, to make sure it never happened again.