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
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
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
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
- 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.