The Ritz bills itself as “the world’s greatest hotel”. True the plush Piccadilly property may have been conceived by the legendary Cesar Ritz (whose nickname was “king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings”) but nonetheless when a place is talked up to such dizzying heights, usually it can’t help but fall flat on its face…
Not so when it comes to The Ritz, which Cesar Ritz opened in 1906. The iconic hotel – whose high profile past guests include Charlie Chaplin, Noel Coward and Lady Thatcher (the former PM famously died sitting reading in bed at The Ritz where she had been staying for several months) – really does justify every word of its hype.
Allow the white glove wearing doormen to escort you through The Ritz’s grand, revolving doors and prepare to be seriously spoiled.
The lavish Louis XV1 style suites (presented in four colour schemes of blue, yellow, rose pink and peach) are a remnant of a glamorous bygone era: all thick carpets, rich silk drapes, ornate antique furnishings, oh – and glorious views of Green Park.
Happily however the rooms and suites also boast every amenity the 21st century traveller could desire (think thrillingly huge LCD televisions) as do the bathrooms, equipped as they are with Asprey toiletries, double sinks, film star worthy baths and walk in showers.
All of the accommodation elates, but the 1,990 square foot Prince of Wales Suite – set within William Kent House extension – is the one to plump for. Anyone staying here can expect a penthouse style apartment boasting two bedrooms, two exceptional marble bathrooms, a dining room, drawing room, butler’s kitchen and – the icing on the cake – a TV you can control from the bath.
It would be easy to stay in your suite but, assuming you do make it out, potter along to the lovely Long Gallery and magical Palm Court – where you can listen to a pianist play while enjoying a fabulous, buzzy afternoon tea featuring traditional sandwiches and scones, rivers of refreshing teas and extravagant cakes.
Watching your waistline (it is bikini season after all)? Ward off any weight gain in the members only gym before booking a table for dinner in The Ritz Restaurant where John Williams, MBE, is celebrating 10 years as executive chef.
To mark the occasion, the Ritz Restaurant menus are offering a selection of John’s favourite dishes from the past decade. Standouts include the Egg fabergé, Butter poached lobster with spiced carrot pureé, Poulet de Bresse en Vessie and Saddle of Lamb belle epoque. All are paired with an accompanying wine, selected by head sommelier Tobias Brauweiler.
Weather permitting, watch the sun set over a glass of fizz from the new Garden Bar Champagne Terrace with its beautiful Italian mosaic floor. Or round off the evening in the elegant, art deco Rivoli bar where you can try new tipple, The Tallulah.
Created by Walter Pintus, The Rivoli’s head bartender, the cocktail is a tribute to American actress Tallulah Bankhead and features Soshu Japanese spirit, Jasmine Pearl tea, Cinzano Bianco, geranium essence and Piper-Heidsieck champagne – served in an extraordinary, bespoke glass slipper! (During a press conference marking the actress’ arrival in London in 1951, Tallulah famously sipped champagne out of her shoe).
But what makes The Ritz stand head and shoulders above its competitors is the discreetly thoughtful and attentive service: two staff are assigned to every room (now that’s the kind or ratio Haute Time heartily approves of).
All told The Ritz – slap bang in one of the world’s swankiest enclaves – is where you want to rest your head while in the capital. This is a place to relax, eat well, sleep (all the windows at The Ritz are triple glazed meaning that contrary to public perception, a good night’s sleep is perfectly possible on Piccadilly) and pull on a fluffy robe to enjoy the hotel’s exceptional spa treatments. Just don’t forget to book your return – The Ritz really is that special.