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Puttin' on the Ritz—The Ritz, LondonJanuary 11, 2010 By: Mary Winston Nicklin Travel Agent
|The Royal Suite is one of four signature suites at The Ritz. The split-level suite has a drawing room and views over Green Park.|
A stay at The Ritz, London means top-notch service, even before check-in. Talk about arriving in style: A Ritz car whisked us away from St. Pancras International and the beautifully renovated Eurostar terminal, to the storied address on Piccadilly, where the awaiting porters, white gloves tucked under their epaulettes, greeted us by name. Long-time concierge Michael deCozar ([email protected]; 011-442-073-002-320), famous for memorizing guests’ preferences and accommodating every whim (including a bath in real seawater on Christmas Day!), had our keys in hand. Chauffeur Winston Lee promised us a spin around town in the Ritz Rolls-Royce Phantom. We immediately sensed what General Manager Stephen Boxall told us about his staff of 330—they all have that so-called “Ritz DNA” and are highly trained and love what they do. Hotelier César Ritz was a meticulous man who changed his suit four times a day, and his legend lives on today with the service at his grand London hotel.
The Champagne was free-flowing at the William Kent House, the historic mansion that adjoins the hotel, where we met with Boxall. After The Ritz opened the house in November 2006, the Queen famously said, “This looks similar to some place I know, but less shabby.” Now housing three of The Ritz’s top suites (the Arlington Suite, the Royal Suite and the Prince of Wales Suite), the William Kent House—decorated with gold leaf, Persian rugs and lavish décor—is also used for private meetings, dinners and receptions. Indeed, The Ritz is a celebratory hotel, where birthdays and anniversaries are fêted with unrestrained luxury. This explains the hotel’s high occupancy even during the economic downturn, Boxall told us.
Weekends are appropriately popular, as the primary clientele is not corporate. It’s the leisure guest who relishes Tea at The Ritz in the Palm Court. It’s a tradition that even landed a spot in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Reservations are booked six weeks in advance, and there are five sittings a day from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Champagne, flutes and music from a string quartet makes the last sitting an evening affair to remember.
|The Green Park 21 Style Suites are The Ritz’s most popular.|
The Ritz dining experience likewise carries on the tradition of the “king of hoteliers, and hotelier to kings.” César enjoyed a long partnership with Escoffier, the father of modern French cuisine, and Executive Chef John Williams has racked up the awards in a career profoundly influenced by Escoffier. Executive Chairman of the Academy of Culinary Arts, Williams confidently helms the kitchen at the only hotel to receive a Royal Warrant for Banquet and Catering Services from The Prince of Wales. Your clients can go behind the scenes with The Chef’s Masterclass, an interactive dining experience, where the chef entertains with anecdotes and divulges culinary secrets. Starting with a Champagne reception and tour of the kitchens, the class has hands-on culinary demonstrations prepared course by course. The best part of all? Digging into decadent dishes like sautéed foie gras, fricassée of lobster and canard à la presse—all prepared before your eyes. Available for groups of eight to 10 people, the Masterclass includes the four-course dinner and wines—one of them being the Pauillac, exclusively bottled for The Ritz by Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA.
With only 113 guest rooms and hall porters on hand 24 hours a day, The Ritz feels like a sumptuous private residence, what César called “a small house to which I am proud to see my name attached.” For VIP bookings, contact Director of Marketing Ruth Jones ([email protected]; 011-442-073-002-240).
LONDON TO PARIS
Traveling between London and Paris? Make it a breeze with the Eurostar. Operating 19 daily services between London’s St. Pancras International and Paris’ Gare du Nord, roundtrip fares for the highspeed train start at $96. The fastest journey time is two hours and 15 minutes. First-class service includes complimentary magazines and a seated meal service. Sipping a glass of bubbly at the longest Champagne bar in Europe, while looking out over the gloriously renovated St. Pancras station, is the perfect way to begin or end your trip.
|The Hotel sits on Piccadilly street and is adjacent to Green Park.|