On World Sleep Day Discover the 21st Century Luxury of Savoir

Words by
Lucia Ferigutti

16th March 2023

On World Sleep Day, SPHERE meets Alistair Hughes the co-founder of Savoir, whose beds not only offer dreamlike levels of comfort and luxury, but also a beautiful piece of furniture that epitomises the art of fine bedmaking.

How well do you sleep?  Around 62% of us say we don’t get enough of it, and given that lack of sleep can affect physical, mental and social wellbeing, making restorative sleep part of the daily conversation is essential to our overall health. One sure-fire way to achieve sleep nirvana is by investing in a Savoir bed.  

Company owners Alistair Hughes and Stephen Winston are deeply committed to the highest standards of quality and craft — and exclusivity. “Our goal is to be the number one luxury bed brand, and to achieve this by preserving the craftsmanship, finest natural materials and bespoke capability that sit at the heart of the brand,” says Hughes. “We will always be committed to making the best beds, not the most.”

Alistair Hughes
Alistair Hughes, the co-founder of Savoir Beds

The pair have ushered a storied history into the 21st century. When Richard D’Oyly Carte opened The Savoy in 1889, he wanted it to be the most luxurious hotel in the world. During a refit of its sumptuous rooms in 1905, no bedmaker in the industry met his exacting standards, so he set out to commission a model that could guarantee the restorative night’s sleep he sought to offer his illustrious guests, and The Savoy Bedworks began to supply the world’s most discerning sleepers.

Fast-forward to 1997, when the company found new owners in Hughes and Winston, who were involved in setting up private members’ club Home House on London’s Portman Square. They wanted the club to have the same beds as The Savoy, and one meeting led to another until they ended up acquiring the company.

Crafting a Savoir bed
The handcrafting of a Savoir bed can take 120 hours, and is made by one person from start to finish

Rebranding the business as Savoir Beds, the duo remained committed to maintaining the original standards of craftsmanship, and to making each bed by hand. The original model, the iconic No 2, is still part of the offering today, and remains the company’s best seller.

Savoir doesn’t hold stock, so each bed is individually commissioned and painstakingly handmade at its two workshops, in London and Wales. Fewer than 1,000 beds are produced each year, and each is created from start to finish by a single craftsperson, following the client’s specifications of size, shape, tension and finish. The process takes from 30-plus hours for the No 4 model, and at least 120 hours for the No 1 bed. This bespoke approach involves a series of meticulous steps; star lashing, for example, is a method of hand-linking the box spring base’s hourglass springs, which are tied eight ways with an oiled-flax cord to create a star shape. Star lashing allows each spring to move independently, for maximum comfort.

The Reformer is the comoany's first vegan bed
No 4v, The Reformer is Savoir’s first vegan bed and created entirely from plant-based materials

Most mattresses are filled with South American horse tail. This supremely comfortable natural fibre reduces pressure points, wicks away moisture and helps regulate temperature. Each mattress is closed using a technique called hand- slipping, a time-consuming but effective way to insert more loose horse tail yet still be able to close the seams. Every detail is double-checked, from the distance between stitches to the weight of the hair. And a similarly meticulous approach is taken with the manufacture of the rest of Savoir’s range: the quality of bases, headboards and legs complements the excellence of the mattresses themselves.

Savoir beds are now found in the world’s most luxurious private homes, superyachts and private jets. Guests of The Greenwich Hotel in New York, Silversea’s Silver Moon, Silver Muse and Silver Spirit cruise ships, and, of course, Home House and The Savoy can enjoy the Savoir experience.

Savoir's 'Louis' bed
The statement Louis bed by world-renowned interior designer Francis Sultana is inspired by Elizabethan ruffs and collars

A string of high-profile designers have also been tasked with reimagining its original designs. Launching this spring is the Louis, an exclusive bed from longtime friend of the house Francis Sultana. “For me, the one thing you must have in a bedroom is a statement bed — the headboard should always be the focus of the space as it’s the central element that your whole bedroom can be built around,”  he says. With a nod to Art Deco, Sultana’s fluid design was inspired by Elizabethan ruffs and collars, and by the work of portrait artist Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. The bed is upholstered in Sultana’s bespoke Green Tweed fabric.

When it comes to sustainability, the brand’s focus on product longevity and use of natural, biodegradable and recyclable materials has been central since its inception. More recently, the company has drawn on plant-derived materials to launch its first vegan bed — No 4v The Reformer. Horse tail and wool have been replaced by Global Organic Textile Standard-certified and GM-free cotton and flax, as well as bamboo and natural Tampico fibre. “Once you consider the global impact and ethical questions around animal farming, it’s no wonder so many of us are turning to vegan alternatives,” says Hughes. “Our customers desire change, and so do we.”

Virginia bed
Savoir's 'Virginia' bed

Two years ago, Hughes acquired Cefn Garthenor, a 210-acre farm in Wales, and embarked on a long-term rewilding project, allowing the land to regenerate, then introducing cattle, pigs and ponies to mimic the behaviour of ancient species such as elk, bison and aurochs. “My goal is to get much greater biodiversity back to the land and then use it as an educational resource,” he explains. “The disconnect between most of us and both nature and agriculture is a real problem. We can only achieve change through a much greater understanding of the importance of nature and biodiversity.”

Sleeping on a Savoir bed has been likened to sleeping on a cloud: an extremely apt metaphor. But, as Savoir’s commitment to hands-on craft and Alistair Hughes’s personal passion for the environment demonstrate, this is also a brand with admirably solid principles at its heart.