The Ritz London Hotel
|The Ritz London|
|Location||150 Piccadilly, London, United Kingdom|
|Owner||David and Frederick Barclay|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Charles Mewès & Arthur Davis|
|Number of rooms||133|
|Number of restaurants||3|
Swiss hotelier César Ritz, the dismissed former manager of the Savoy Hotel, opened the hotel on 24 May 1906. The building is neoclassical in the Louis XVI manner, built during the Belle Époque to resemble a stylish Parisian block of flats, over arcades that consciously evoked the Rue de Rivoli. Its architects were Charles Mewès, who had previously designed Ritz's Hôtel Ritz Paris, and Arthur Davis, with engineering collaboration by the Swedish engineer Sven Bylander. It was the first substantial steel-frame structure in London.
Ritz personally managed much of the hotel's operation for many years. He hired world-famous chef Auguste Escoffier to provide cuisine to match the opulence of the hotel's decorations; he placed a special bell in the entryway by which the doorman could notify the staff of the impending arrival of royalty. The high standards to which he held his staff and the ultimate luxury which he provided his guests had been entirely foreign to Victorian Londoners, and the sensation he caused in the hotel industry precipitated a dramatic shift in that industry's focus.
The Ritz is also renowned for its supreme catering service, as well as using its fine rooms for conferencing between executives and directors of multi-national firms.
The hotel was owned for some time by the Bracewell-Smith family who also had significant stakes in the nearby Park Lane Hotel. However the oil crisis in the early 1970s affected business and prompted the family to sell their stake to Trafalgar House in 1976 for £2.75m.
David and Frederick Barclay purchased the hotel for £80 million from Trafalgar House, in October 1995, through their company Ellerman Investments. They spent eight years and £40 million restoring it to its former grandeur. In 2002, The Ritz became the first hotel to receive the Royal Warrant from his Royal Highness The Prince of Wales for banqueting and catering services.
On 27 January 2007, around 300 people were evacuated to the nearby May Fair Hotel following a fire alarm in the hotel. No one was hurt in the blaze, which started in the basement casino kitchen's extraction vents. The Ritz casino only suffered "minor damage". Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was convalescing at the Ritz when she died following a stroke on 8 April 2013.
There has been criticism because the Ritz has not paid any corporation tax since being taken over by the Barclay twins. The accounts indicate that the profitable hotel uses a series of tax reliefs to reduce its corporation tax to zero. Sir David's son, Aidan has stated that the company abides by UK law.
The Ritz's most famous facility is the Palm Court, an opulently decorated cream-colored Louis XVI setting for the world-famous institution that is "Tea at the Ritz", (though, strictly speaking, Tea at the Savoy is the original version) once frequented by King Edward VII, Charlie Chaplin, Sir Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Noël Coward, Judy Garland, Evelyn Waugh and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The Rivoli Bar, built in the Art Deco style, was designed in 2001 by interior designer Tessa Kennedy, to look like a bar on the Orient Express. A table at the restaurant still needs to be booked weeks in advance.
The hotel has six private dining rooms, the Marie Antoinette Suite and the rooms within William Kent House.
In 2006, the William Kent House was opened as an extension of The Ritz. The William Kent House has been converted into a complete function area with the Music Room, the Burlington Room, the Queen Elizabeth Room and the William Kent room. The William Kent House also accommodates three of The Ritz' top suites: The Arlington Suite, the Royal Suite as well as the Prince of Wales Suite.
The Ritz Club
The Ritz Club is a casino in the basement of the hotel. However, unlike most casinos, it requires a fee to enter. The games are considered "high stakes" in that the minimum bet is usually very high. They offer roulette, black jack, baccarat, and poker, as well as some slot machines.
In popular culture
In the universe of the book Good Omens, two primary characters, the angel Aziraphale and the demon Crowley, often frequent the Ritz. The hotel is mentioned in the song "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square" as well as in the song "Good Old Fashioned Lover Boy" (Queen). It also spawned the phrase "putting on the Ritz," which inspired the song "Puttin' on the Ritz"
Large portions of the 1999 romantic comedy Notting Hill were filmed in and around the hotel.
- The Daily Telegraph (London) http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/04/11/db1101.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2003/04/11/ixopright.html
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- "The Ritz, London". The Handbook. February 8, 2013.
- "Ritz guests ordered out in fire". BBC News. 2007-01-27. Retrieved 2010-05-22.
- Philipson, Alice (9 Apr 2013). "Margaret Thatcher: body moved out of the Ritz". Telegraph (London).
- "Barclay twins' Ritz hotel pays no corporation tax". BBC News (bbc.co.uk). 16 December 2012. Retrieved 2013-09-16.
- London Hotel And Casino Review, January 2006, Volume 7, pge 34
- Gambler's World Guide, Volume 3, page 7
- Las Vegas News & Review, Volume17, Issue 7, page 39
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