Jackie Onassis described The Ritz London as “paradise” and Charlie Chaplin needed 40 policemen to escort him through his fans into the hotel in 1921.
They are just two facts in the fascinating world of The Ritz London that has wowed guests since it opened in May 1906.
It’s a Legend
The Ritz Hotel London conceived by renowned hotelier Cesar Ritz, is much more than just a hotel – it’s a legend.
With its French chateau style architecture and opulent Louis XVI furnishings, the hotel was, according to Cesar Ritz, “a small house to which I am proud to see my name attached.”
It’s been a hotel of many firsts including the first to have bathrooms attached to every room and a telephone in each room.
All guest rooms had fitted cupboards rather than wardrobes so that dust could not collect and the floor in the Palm Court was raised so that ladies entering or leaving it would do so dramatically.
Statesman and diplomat Sir Michael Duff noted that silver-plated tongs were in each guest room for stretching the fingers of gloves which contributed to The Ritz’s reputation for “courtesy and elegance unlike any other hotel.”
The Rich and the Famous
The Ritz has always attracted the famous and the fashionable, noted for its discretion, low-key glamour and impeccable service.
During its early years, the hotel enjoyed the patronage of The Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VIII, and the English aristocracy – the Palm Court was as popular for Afternoon Tea as it is today.
The Ritz was the first hotel which allowed young unmarried women to go unchaperoned.
Did you Know?
King Alfonso of Spain and Queen Amelie of Portugal met in the hotel and Madame Pavlova, the Russian Prima Ballerina, danced at The Ritz in 1912.
The Aga Khan and Paul Getty had suites at the hotel.
Churchill, de Gaulle and Eisenhower met for summit meetings in the Marie Antoinette Suite during World War 11.
The Ritz also became a favourite of Hollywood stars – English playwright Noel Coward, a notable diner at The Ritz in the 1920s and 1930s, penned the song ‘Children of The Ritz’ about the hotel.
Actor Tallulah Bankhead sipped Champagne from her slipper during a press conference in the 1950s.
Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel Brideshead Revisited, includes the William Kent House disguised as the London home of the Marchmains.
Prime Ministers Sir Edward Heath and Harold Macmillan dined at The Ritz and former prime minister Margaret Thatcher died there in 2013.
In 1999, Richard Curtis’ romantic comedy Notting Hill, starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant, included several scene shot at The Ritz.
The amusing scene in which Roberts’ character, film-star Anna Scott, is holding a press conference in the hotel’s Trafalgar Suite and bookshop owner William Thacker, played by Grant, passes himself off as a reporter from Horse and Hound magazine. Head Hall Porter at The Ritz, Michael deCozar, is featured in the concierge desk scene and recalls the filming taking place over night between midnight and 6am, and being interrupted on one occasion by a telephone call which came through to the concierge desk from a guest relative in Australia.
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother regularly dined at The Ritz and her favourite song was ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square.’
In January 2002, The Ritz London became the first and only hotel in the world to receive a Royal Warrant for Banqueting and Catering Services from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales
In August 2015, key scenes for the final episode of the acclaimed television drama Downton Abbey were filmed in The Ritz Restaurant with Lady Edith and Lady Rosamund, broadcast at Christmas 2015.
Filming again took place overnight and was the final ever scene filmed with the cast and crew, who all dressed in 1920s costumes to mark the occasion – Lady Mary was a camera operator for the night. Lord Fellowes was also there throughout the night.