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The Ritz London
Hotel review, history and photos

Article added on May 7, 2004
The Ritz London is one of the most glamorous five-star hotels in the English capital. Overlooking Green Park, the stylish neo-classical landmark building of the belle époque is a work by the French architects Charles Mewès (1860-1914) and Arthur Davis (1878-1951). The Ritz London opened its doors on May 24, 1906

Charles Mewès had previously built the Ritz in Paris and later went on to make the plans for the Hotel Ritz Madrid, which opened in 1910. All famous Ritz hotels, including the one in Barcelona, were commissioned by the world's most legendary hotelier, the Swiss César Ritz (1850-1918).

Unfortunately, towards the end of the 20th century, the hotel had lost its glamour. The Ritz London was down at heel when Sir David Barclay and Sir Frederick Barclay bought it in October 1995 through their private company Ellerman Investments. With the help of some £40 million, they had it fully restored to its former glory by 2003.

The Ritz by Mewès and Davis was the first steel framed building of significance in London, inspired by The Flatiron Building in New York City. The construction drawings and calculations by the Swedish engineer Sven Bylander were vital for this remarkable construction. The seven storey building is redolent of a French Château since it was aimed to make aristocrats and the grand bourgeoisie feel at home. The same can be said of the interior design which, throughout the hotel, was and still is in the Louis XVI style.

Mewès and Davis relished, as was typical for beaux-arts trained architects, in the play of unusual shapes such as circles, octagons and ovals in the ground plan. As main motifs on the ground floor the used two typical French features, the grand axis and the framed vista.

During the eight years of renovation by the Barclay brothers, the large restoration team under the direction of architect Stelios Constantine retained the Louis XVI interior design in the 95 bedrooms and 38 suites. The elegant gold leaf mouldings were replaced. The antique Ritz bedroom furniture as well as the original light fittings and chandeliers have been repaired and restored where possible, otherwise replaced by copies or adaptations of the originals. The majority of rooms are decorated with large mirrors over the marble fireplaces. 

The four principal colors schemes in the bedrooms are yellow, blue, rose-pink and salmon-pink. The French interior decorator Philippe Belloir Both chose the French passementerie, Jacquard and damask silks. He tried to stay true to the spirit of Mewès - a mix of Louis XVI rococo and Edwardian belle époque opulence. The curtains are swagged and draped with one fabric alternating with another.

When I stayed at The Ritz London in January 2004, the 21st century had already arrived on the rooms of the sixth and seventh floor in the form of broadband high speed internet connectivity. In addition, all the hotel's rooms had ISDN lines.

Among the famous hotel spaces is the Marie Antoinette Room. This private dining room is in a pure Louis Seize style. Named after the Austrian born queen who was first famous and then notorious for her love of pleasure, before she was executed during the French Revolution, remains associated with everything graceful and delicate. She inspired the young Davis to sheer sophistication and refinement.

Another embodiment of luxury and taste is the Marie Antoinette Suite, which is said to be a copy of a room at the Palace of Versailles. The suite opens off the Long Gallery and is accessible from The Ritz Restaurant. It is a splendid setting for any elegant reception, meeting and dining occasion. It can accommodate up to one hundred people for a reception, sixty for a theatre style dining, fifty for lunch or dinner, thirty-two for a boardroom meeting, twenty-five for a classroom set up and twenty-four around a U-shaped boardroom table.

Located on the first floor of the hotel, The Trafalgar Suite offers a reception room with an adjoining dining or boardroom. Redecorated in Empire style, the suite is furnished with antiques and enjoys splendid views over Green Park and Piccadilly. It provides a refined setting for breakfasts, luncheons, dinners and meeting for up to twenty guests.

The Barclay brothers have also maintained a strict dress code, jacket and tie, in the public areas of the hotel. This attracts a certain clientele that requires excellency. Among the regular hotel guests are politicians, film stars, members of the English aristocracy and American tycoons. Last but not least, The Ritz London offers a first class service: efficient, stylish and nonetheless discrete. If you are looking for class and style, this is definitely a place for you to stay at.

The hotel is very discrete, names are not revealed. An exception a long time ago were the crowds of uninvited fans that revealed the arrival of Charlie Chaplin at the hotel. By the way, one of the most famous anecdotes or rather true stories had consequences for the British monarchy: It was during a lunch at The Ritz that Lady Furness, the mistress of the future King Edward VIII, asked Wallis Warfield-Simpson to look after him while she was away. As we know, she did all too well. Lady Furness also asked Mrs. Simpson to "See that he doesn't get into any mischief". He did more than that because he abdicated and renounced on the English throne because neither the British government nor the Anglican church allowed him to marry the divorced American.

Source, literature 
- Marcus Binney: The Ritz Hotel London. Thames & Hudson in association with The Ritz, 1999, 144 p. with 132 illustrations, 83 in color.

The newly designed Rivoli Bar. The original Art Deco bar was in the basement. Photo © The Ritz London.

The façade of the prestigious hotel. Photo © The Ritz London.


The concierge. Photo © The Ritz London.

Deluxe suite sitting area. Photo © The Ritz London.

View of the Trafalgar Suite Photo © The Ritz London.

The Long Gallery. Photo © The Ritz London.

The entrance. Photo © The Ritz London.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

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© Copyright  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.