THE RITZ, LONDON
BEST FOR: ALL-OUT GLAMOUR AND A SERIOUS TREAT
NOT FOR: LOW-KEY LIVING. YOU ARE RATHER ON DISPLAY HERE
It’s been a busy few years for The Ritz: their first Michelin star, magnificent new suite and mighty 110th anniversary last year. Through it all, ‘The Queen’s local’ has remained as ravishing and rock solid as ever, thronging with the same golden glow as when Swiss hotelier César Ritz opened its revolving doors in 1906. It’s hard to get more lavish here. Sparkling, cut-glass chandeliers adorn the ornate ceilings while exquisite bespoke oriental carpets line the floors, everything set off by a pastel palette of blue, pink and lemon shades.
The 136 rooms and suites have all the contemporary bells and whistles yet remain in their original Louis XVI style with antique furniture, heavy silk curtains and vintage photographs. Some are in the main hotel, others in the splendid 18th-century Wimbourne House next door, which The Ritz purchased on their 100th anniversary realising César Ritz’s long-ago dream. Built for Prime Minister Lord Pelham who promptly died upon its completion, the building is now called the William Kent House in honour of its Palladian architect. It’s here where the palatial Royal Suite lies, formerly Lord Pelham’s private chambers – a favourite of the great and the good, the suite is split over two levels with a vast bedroom, grand drawing room, private dining room, two dressing rooms and two marble bathrooms. There’s the new suite, too, the Green Park Signature Suite, which opened last year and is lighter, more contemporary with a fresh silver leaf design.
However, despite the beauty of your abode, this is not a place to stay holed up in your bedroom. Meander downstairs to the ground floor which sings of Italian Renaissance-style with sweeping staircases, floor-to-ceiling windows and perhaps the most mirrors in the city. Then wander into the red silk-lined William Kent Room with its long mahogany dining table and spectacular ceiling before moving onto the splendid Music Room, all gold-leaf molding and the Queen Elizabeth Room with lovely views across Green Park.
The afternoon tea in Palm Court is the stuff of legend (the tea has been personally sourced all over Asia by Giandomenico Scanu, one of only sixteen Tea Masters in Europe). But the newly knighted restaurant now boasts an equal buzz, thanks to self-taught executive chef, John Williams. Passionate about British local ingredients (succulent lobsters from South West Scotland, organic beef from the Cornish moors and lamb from the Lake District), every season he conjures up a tasting menu which might include turbot with a mushroom puree and morels or fillet of veal Bordelaise with broccoli royal, and glazed carrot. Meanwhile music twinkles away in the background – go on Fridays and Saturdays for traditional dinner and dancing. Start the night with a cocktail in the Rivoli Bar, which has been designed to look like a glittering jewel box.
Further indulgence is tucked away on the seventh floor in the spa, ‘The Ritz Salon’ – a pink and bijou number with hair, nail, beauty and relaxation treatments which is pocket perfect. There is no sauna, steam room or pool but that doesn’t matter. Elemis is the brand of choice here with a delicious menu such as the deeply nourishing Superfood Pro-Radiance Facial which transforms tired skin, using an amino active mask to pack in powerful, energising nutrients.
London is on your doorstep but don’t leave this landmark just yet. Nab the dapper head concierge Michael De Cozar for a nugget of advice. At the helm for nearly 45 years, he’s fabled for his endless charm, sense of humour and knows everyone in town plus learns your name immediately. Polished perfection. Just like The Ritz London itself.
CONTACT: 020 7493 8181; www.theritzlondon.com
PRICE: From £395 inclusive of taxes
NEAREST TUBE: Green Park