Hôtel Ritz Paris in Paris
The Hôtel Ritz is a grand palatial hotel in the heart of Paris, the 1st arrondissement. It overlooks the octagonal border of the Place Vendôme at number 15. The hotel is ranked highly among the most prestigious and luxurious hotels in the world and is a member of "The Leading Hotels of the World".
The hotel, which today has 159 rooms, was founded by the Swiss hotelier, César Ritz, in collaboration with the chef Auguste Escoffier in 1898. The new hotel was constructed behind the façade of an 18th century town house, overlooking one of Paris's central squares. It was reportedly the first hotel in Europe to provide a bathroom en suite, a telephone and electricity for each room. It quickly established a reputation for luxury, with clients including royalty, politicians, writers, film stars and singers. Several of its suites are named in honour of famous guests of the hotel, including Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway who lived at the hotel for years. One of the bars of the hotel, Bar Hemingway, is devoted to Hemingway and the L'Espadon is a world-renowned restaurant, attracting aspiring chefs from all over the world who come to learn at the adjacent Ritz-Escoffier School. The grandest suite of the hotel, called the Imperial, has been listed by the French government as a national monument in its own right.
During the Second World War, the hotel was taken over by the occupying Germans as the local headquarters of the Luftwaffe. After the death of Ritz's son Charles, in 1976, the last members of the Ritz family to own the hotel sold it in 1979 to the Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed. In August 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales and Al-Fayed's son, Dodi, dined in the hotel's Imperial Suite before their fatal car crash.
Because of its status as a symbol of high society and luxury, the hotel has featured in many notable works of fiction including the novels: F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night and Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, Noël Coward's play Semi-Monde and films such as Billy Wilder's 1957 comedy Love in the Afternoon, and the 1966 movie How to Steal a Million.
Background and history
The site was purchased in 1705 by Antoine Bitaut de Vaillé, and a private residence was constructed, which was occupied by several noble families and later became the Hôtel de Gramont. The façade was designed by the royal architect Jules Hardouin Mansart. In 1854 it was acquired by the Péreire brothers, who made it the head office of their Crédit Mobilier financial institution. Later it became the Hôtel de Lazun.
In 1888, the Swiss hotelier César Ritz and the French chef Auguste Escoffier opened a restaurant in Baden-Baden, and the two were then invited to London by Richard D'Oyly Carte to become the first manager and chef of the Savoy Hotel, positions they held from 1889 until 1897. The Savoy under Ritz was an immediate success, attracting a distinguished and moneyed clientele, headed by the Prince of Wales. In 1897, Ritz and Escoffier were both dismissed from the Savoy, when Ritz was implicated in the disappearance of over £3400 worth of wine and spirits. Before their dismissal, customers at the Savoy had reportedly urged them to open a hotel in Paris. Aided by Alexandre Marnier-Lapostolle, Ritz purchased the palace and transformed the former Hôtel de Lazun building into a 210-room hotel. He engaged the architect Charles Mewès to update the original 1705 structure.
The hotel opened its doors on 1 June 1898 to a "glittering reception". Together with the culinary talents of his junior partner Escoffier, Ritz made the hotel synonymous with opulence, service, and fine dining, as embodied in the term "." It immediately became fashionable with Parisian socialites, hosting many prestigious personalities over the years, such as Ernest Hemingway, for whom a bar in the hotel was named, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Marcel Proust, King Edward VII, the Shah of Iran, Rudolph Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, Greta Garbo, Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles, Maurice Chevalier, Jean-Paul Sartre, Elton John, and the couturier Coco Chanel, who made the Ritz her home for more than thirty years.
In 1904 and 1908, the Ritz garden café was painted by the Swiss artist, Pierre-Georges Jeanniot. Proust wrote parts of Remembrance of Things Past here from around 1909.
In 1979, members of the Ritz family sold the hotel to the Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al-Fayed for $20 million.
In the 21st century, the Ritz remains possibly the most prestigious and luxurious hotel in the world and the finest and most expensive in Paris. It is referred to by some as the best hotel in Europe and one of the world's most famous hotels. It is one of "The Leading Hotels of the World". One of the seven recognised Parisian palace hotels, it is the oldest Ritz Hotel.
The palace and the square are masterpieces of classical architecture from the end of the reign of Louis XIV. The façade was designed by the royal architect Mansart in the late 17th century before the plot was bought and construction began in 1705. The Hôtel Ritz comprises the Vendôme and the Cambon buildings with rooms overlooking the Place Vendôme, and, on the opposite side, the hotel's famous garden. The Hôtel Ritz Paris is 4 floors high, including the mansard roof, and as of 2011 offers 159 rooms, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant, two bars and a casual dining restaurant.
Rooms and suites
In the 1970s a travel publication Holiday wrote, "practically every royal head of state has snoozed under down quilts on the finest linen sheets, beneath fifteen-foot-high (15 ft) ceilings in rooms looking out, through huge double windows, on the elegant Place Vendôme." Frommer's, which calls the Ritz "Europe's greatest hotel", describes the furnishings as follows, "the public salons are furnished with museum-calibre antiques. Each guest room is uniquely decorated, most with Louis XIV or Louis XV reproductions; all have fine rugs, marble fireplaces, tapestries, brass beds, and more. Ever since Edward VII got stuck in a too-narrow bathtub with his lover, the tubs at the Ritz have been deep and big."
The Ritz is reputedly the most expensive hotel in Paris, The Vendôme Suite is one of the most spacious of the hotel, containing Louis XIV furnishings, with a red and ivory theme and grand windows overlooking the square. The César Ritz Suite overlooks the square and contains Louis XV furniture and a portrait of Ritz himself. The room is decorated in shades of green and light yellow with a canopied bed in one room and silk floral pattern in the second. The Elton John Suite, decorated in strawberry pink and cream, contains two bedrooms, a thick pink carpet and attic windows. John reportedly hired the entire floor for his 42nd birthday. The Windsor Suite contains tapestries and gilded mouldings and portraits of the Duke (Edward VIII) and Duchess of Windsor. They are decorated with Louis XVI furniture and colours such as almond green, salmon and pearl grey. The 1670 sqft Coco Chanel Suite where Coco Chanel lived for some 35 years consists of two bedrooms and a living room and features Coromandel lacquers, Chinese furniture, baroque mirrors and over-sized sofas with quilting created by Grande Mademoiselle.
The Imperial Suite (Suite Impériale) is the finest suite of the hotel, and is listed as a National Monument of France in its own right. The other bedroom is in the style of Louis XVI, with a baldachin bed and columns. He was a keen fishing enthusiast so named the restaurant after a fish. The restaurant is inspired by the legendary first chef of the hotel, Auguste Escoffier, serving "traditional French culinary style with contemporary overtones". The head chef was formerly Guy Legay, cited as one of Paris's greatest chefs, who had served from at least 1986 to beyond 1999. The restaurant decor is described as "opulent with trompe l’oeil ceilings, swagged drapes, and views into the garden." One of his best-known cocktails was the potent "Rainbow", consisting of anisette, mint, yellow chartreuse, cherry brandy, kümmel, green chartreuse and cognac.
Ritz Health Club
The Ritz Health Club contains a grand swimming pool, the largest in all of the Parisian hotel palaces at 1700 m2 and billed by the Ritz as "the finest indoor pool in Paris". The final chapter of Ian Fleming's James Bond novel From Russia, with Love is set at the hotel. The villain, Rosa Klebb, stays in room 602 and engages in a battle with Bond which results in her death.
The hotel has featured in several films, two of which starred Audrey Hepburn; Billy Wilder's 1957 comedy Love in the Afternoon, when Hepburn initiates her romance with Gary Cooper in his suite in the hotel and in the 1966 movie How to Steal a Million, with a romantic scene between Hepburn and Peter O'Toole in front of the hotel. In the Indian film Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, Abhishek Bachchan meets his fictional love (played by Lara Dutta) at Hotel Ritz.
- Ritz-Carlton hotel chain
- Ritz Hotel London, opened 8 years after the Paris one
- Ritz (disambiguation), for other uses
- The Leading Hotels of the World
- Paris Ritz To Close Doors For Two Years
- Hotel website
- Interview with Colin Field, leading mixologist and head barman of the Ritz's Hemingway Bar