Hotel Ritz, Madrid
|Location||Plaza de la Lealtad 5, 28014, Madrid, Spain|
|Affiliation||The Leading Hotels of the World|
|Number of rooms||167|
Hotel Ritz is a belle époque palace hotel managed by Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group and located in Madrid’s “Golden Triangle” of culture. It is located directly opposite the Museo del Prado and close by other major galleries including the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. Also nearby are the Buen Retiro Park and Botanical Gardens. The hotel’s façade is a listed national monument and it sits in gardens with a terrace restaurant.
It is a five star luxury hotel located in Madrid, Spain at No. 5 in the Plaza de la Lealtad, Retiro district, next to the Prado Museum and opposite the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It celebrated its 100-year anniversary in October 2010 and was renovated in 2013. It was built by King Alfonso XIII in 1910 to model a royalty hotel.
The hotel was built at the behest of King Alfonso XIII who, returning from a tour of Europe, realized that the Spanish Court lacked a hotel with enough pomp for European royalty and other illustrious visitors. His idea was for Madrid to have such a hotel to equal the likes of The Ritz London Hotel and Hôtel Ritz Paris. His own marriage to Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg was another excuse to give Madrid a luxury hotel, the first in the Spanish capital. The king himself contributed part of the capital, along with other members of Madrid society, and he instructed the Ritz Development Company that it would be designed and built under the personal supervision of César Ritz. Although Ritz initially intended to be involved in the project, he was unable to do so because of depression. Although there was an expressed desire of Alfonso XIII supporting the hotel's construction, some of the politicians of the time showed strong opposition to the project, alleging that the projected height of the building was not permitted by zoning laws for this area. Eventually, however, the project was able to proceed.
The building was designed by French architect Charles Mewes and Spanish architect Luis de Landecho. It became one of the first in Madrid to use reinforced concrete in its construction. The most famous Spanish and foreign companies of the time contributed to the decoration of its rooms. Carpets were woven to order at Spain’s Royal Tapestry Factory, linens were commissioned from Ireland and crockery and cutlery arrived from England.
The chosen site was once an area occupied by barracks belonging to the Hippodrome Circus and the gardens of the old Theatre Tivoli, and was formerly owned by Jardines del Buen Retiro de Madrid. The hotel's grand opening on 2 October 1910 was officiated by King Alfonso XIII in the company of ministers and representatives of the mayor of Madrid. The hotel quickly became one of the leaders of the social and cultural life of the capital. The first board was chaired by Luis de Cuadra y Raúl Marquis de Guadalmina. The first hotel manager was Antonio Mella, who had previously managed the Ritz Hotel in Paris and London. His wife helped him in hotel management taking over guest services and laundry rooms.
Previous owner Belmond sold the hotel to Mandarin Oriental and the Saudi-based Olayan Group in May 2015 for $148 Million. Mandarin Oriental announced plans to refurbish the hotel at a cost of $103 million. In 2019, the completion of which is foreseen for the end of 2019. The refurbishment will provide the hotel with will provide the hotel with a spa and new common spaces, as well as an appreciable improvement of the services and quality of the rooms and suites, including the creation of a new Royal Suite. It will recover emblematic elements such as the glass cover that occupied the center of the building when it was inaugurated, and will also incorporate artistic pieces from the Ritz collection, among which include crystal chandeliers, ancient paintings, frescoes and sculptures.
2018 floor collapse
On 18 September 2018, scaffolding and part of the sixth-floor of the hotel collapsed, killing one and injuring 11 more. All those injured were working on the renovation. Two of the workers were seriously injured and 3 had to be pulled from the rubble.
Architecture and fittings
The building was designed in 1908 by French architect Charles Mewès and built in the period 1908-10 under the direction of Luis de Landecho. This was one of the first buildings in Madrid that used reinforced concrete in its construction, which was completed on 14 May 1910. Notable Spanish and foreign companies were hired to decorate the rooms. The carpets were woven in the Royal Tapestry Factory, linens was commissioned to Irish firms, the furniture was commissioned to Lissarraga y Sobrinos, and mirrors were by Pereantón. The china was by Limoges and cutlery was imported from The Goldsmiths.
- 1910The hotel opened with a grand party attended by the king and other members of the royal family. It quickly became one of the major players in the capital’s social and cultural life. Its first board of directors was chaired by Luis Raul Cuadra and Marquis de Guadalmina. The first hotel manager was Antonio Mella, who had previously worked at the Ritz hotels in Paris and London. The first Maître d’hotel was Olivier Pau and the chef Félix Ruiz del Castillo. Many of the dishes to be served in the restaurant were inspired by the great chef and restaurateur Georges Auguste Escoffier. The hotel introduced many new culinary customs such as afternoon tea. It also held dances on Tuesday evenings, when new styles such as the : foxtrot became popular. Famous guests began to arrive.
- 1916In October the exotic dancer and spy Mata Hari came to stay. She booked in under the name of Countess Masslov and operated from the hotel until January 1917.:
- 1926The hotel was acquired by the Belgian Georges Marquet. It was to stay in his family, being passed down through three generations, until his grandson sold it in 1978.:
- 1936During the Spanish Civil War the hotel became a military hospital.:
- 1939The hotel reverted to its original purpose, under the direction of Georges Marquet's son, also called Georges.:
- 1970sThe hotel saw a period of decline under the control of Georges Marquet’s grandson, who had no interest in it. Some activities and traditional services, such as the New Year’s Eve dinner and dining in the garden, ceased. Georges Marquet III was keen on philately and purchased a large stamp collection, using money taken directly from the hotel company, to the anger of certain shareholders.:
- 1978Former mayor of Barcelona Enrique (Henry) Maso acquired the hotel.:
- 1981UK company Trusthouse Forte, owner of some 880 hotels in 70 countries, bought the hotel. A period of investment began to regain its former glory.:
- 1996Following a series of legal and financial struggles Trusthouse Forte sold the hotel.:
- 1999The hotel’s return to prominence was underlined when Travel & Leisure named it as one of the top ten hotels in the world.:
- 2001French group Le Meridien undertook a complete restoration.:
- 2003Orient-Express Hotels entered into a joint venture with Spain’s Omega Capital to acquire and run the hotel.:
- 2014Orient-Express Hotels was renamed Belmond Ltd. and the hotel changed its name to Hotel Ritz by Belmond.:
- 2015Belmond announced the sale of its stake in the hotel its name changed to Hotel Ritz.:
Throughout its history, many famous guests have stayed at the hotel, from Ernest Hemingway to Rainier III, Prince of Monaco and his wife Grace Kelly who celebrated their honeymoon in one of its suites. Others include Ava Gardner, Michelle Pfeiffer and Madonna.
- An unwritten rule not to admit artists, film stars or bullfighters as hotel guests in the 1950s made the actor James Stewart unwelcome. However, he flashed his military badge and described himself as a colonel in the American army and therefore was admitted.
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- Media related to Ritz Hotel, Madrid at Wikimedia Commons