< UNITED KINGDOM | LONDON: The Ritz London
Conceived by "the king of hoteliers and hotelier of kings", César Ritz, The Ritz London opened its doors on 24th May 1906 on the Piccadilly site of the Walsingham House Hotel, formerly the Bath Hotel. It was designed in neoclassical Louis XVI style by architects Charles Mewès (who had previously designed Ritz's Hôtel Ritz Paris and the Carlton Hotel in London) and Arthur Davis. Hotel's exterior embodies the influence of various Parisian architectural structures, including the arcaded Rue de Rivoli.
Construction of The Ritz began in early 1905 and by the 1st of October 1905, the hotel was completed. Its steel-frame structure, designed by the Swedish engineer Sven Bylander, is regarded
as the first substantial steel structure in London, and in the same year, The "Builder's Journal" and "Architectural Engineer" described it as "the finest example in England of the use of
Originally the hotel had 150 bedrooms and reception rooms, and 75 bathrooms. César Ritz’s innovations for the hotel were unique for their time, with bathrooms for every bedroom, double glazing, a sophisticated ventilation system, walk-in wardrobes, and brass, rather than wooden, beds. The Palm Court (originally known as the Winter Garden), was designed as a dramatic back drop to delight those entering from the Piccadilly entrance and epitomised the elegantly frivolous comfort of Edwardian high life while The Restaurant, often described as the most beautiful dining room in Europe, appeared to be permanently ‘en fête’ with its sumptuous chandeliers linked by gilt bronze garlands around the room. In the bedrooms and suites on the upper floors, gold leaf, plaster mouldings, marble fireplaces and traditional furnishings offer the cosiness of an English stately home. When the hotel opened, it was described by its famous founder as “a small house to which I am proud to see my name attached”.
A soon as it opened The Ritz became fashionable, and during its early years it enjoyed the patronage of the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VIII, and the English aristocracy. It was the first hotel to which young, unmarried women were allowed to go without chaperones. King Alfonso of Spain and Queen Amelie of Portugal met in The Hotel; the Russian Prima Ballerina, Anna Pavlova, danced at The Ritz; the Aga Khan and Paul Getty had suites; the Prince of Wales and Mrs Simpson dined and danced in The Palm Court; and Churchill, de Gaulle and Eisenhower met for Summit Meetings in the Marie-Antoinette Suite during the Second World War.
The Ritz also became the favourite of Hollywood stars; Charlie Chaplin required 40 policemen to escort him through the fans into the hotel in 1921; Noel Coward wrote songs at The Ritz and Tallulah Bankhead sipped Champagne from a slipper during a press conference in the 1950’s. The Palm Court was as popular as it is today, providing the perfect setting for the quintessentially British Afternoon Tea.
In November 2006 The Ritz opened William Kent House, adjoined to the hotel and situated at No. 22 Arlington Street. Designed in the 1740s by the 18th century architect William Kent, the historic mansion was known as Wimborne House when The Ritz opened in 1906. Acquired by the hotel owners in 2005, almost a hundred years after Cesar Ritz first tried to purchase the house and was rebuffed by Lord Wimborne, William Kent House underwent an extensive period of restoration and refurbishment prior to the re-opening of its magnificent new reception rooms.
Also in 2006, Her Majesty The Queen hosted a belated party at The Ritz for her closest friends and courtiers to mark her 80th birthday.
The Ritz London was used as a filming location several times: In 1986, in Neil Jordan's movie "Mona Lisa", starring Bob Hoskins, Cathy Tyson and Michael Caine, while Roger Michell's romantic comedy "Notting Hill" with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts was filmed in and around The Ritz in 1999.
#Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd, David Watkin: London Ritz: A Social and Architectural History
Littlehampton Book Services Ltd, 1989 | ISBN-10: 094814971X; ISBN-13: 978-0948149719
English language | 192 pages | Hardcover
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