Built in 1906 and with a claim to being one of the world’s most famous hotel’s, the Ritz is nothing short of an institution, representing the kind of place that everyone should stay once—provided they have the funds to make it happen. The grandest of London grand dames, the Ritz has a storied past— counting the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Jacki Onassis, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother as fans—and on walking into the hotel there’s the unmistakable sense of glamor that only comes with a hotel that’s seen over a hundred years of history.
Elegant and ever so stuffy, the Louis XVI style that runs throughout the hotel is a consistent reminder that you’re in a place of luxury. Anywhere else and the interiors of the rooms might feel a little dated—the style is 18th century after all—with an overload of cutesy pastel colors and heavy drapes, but at the Ritz the charm is in the over the top stylings.
Request a room with views of neighboring Green Park, unless you’d prefer to look out over Piccadilly.
Wall-to-wall marble, pearlescent tiles, and oversized robes come as standard in the generously sized bathrooms.
Given that the neoclassical building of the hotel is a London landmark in itself, you’d imagine the lobby has some competition for wow factor, however, the regal interior is more than a match for the impressive exterior. A one-of-a-kind sort of place, a winding staircase spirals all the way to the top floor, walls are covered in faint frescoes, gold detailing marks the cornicing, and elaborate chandeliers cast a soft light on an array of flowers at every turn.
Pamper yourself with the trip to the Palm Court at the Ritz Salon with one of a range of treatments from body scrubs to deep tissue massages.
Since gyms weren’t the rage in 1906, the Ritz can be forgiven for not matching the hotel’s sophistication in this aspect. While well-equipped, it might not be the ideal way to spend your time here.
Take to Green Park next door and enjoy the luxury of running in a Royal Park.
Proud recipients of a Michelin star, the Ritz Restaurant serves a classic French menu which utilizes the best in seasonal British ingredients. In addition to the food, the dining room is its own masterpiece, a lavish space whose looming floor-to-ceiling windows look out onto Green Park. When staying at the Ritz, afternoon tea in the absurdly attractive Palm Court is de rigueur since it’s one of the oldest, not to mention best, in London. Given the popularity of the famous afternoon tea, even guests should book in advance to ensure the chance to sample the finest cucumber sandwiches in the city.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The Ritz Restaurant and the Palm Court both have a dress code that requires ties and jackets for men, and prohibits sneakers and jeans.
Of all the grand hotel bars in London, the Rivoli Bar is perhaps the greatest at transporting drinkers to a bygone age. Like sitting inside a Tiffany lamp, the rich dark red walls, golden flourishes, and large leopard print chairs provide the ideal environment to gaze out at envious Mayfair crowds going about their business while sipping on signature cocktails. Order the Marie Antoinette and let the mix of tequila, gin, and Champagne do its thing.
Visits during the Holidays to the Rivoli Bar are especially grand with the hotel in full decorative splendor.
With Royal parks, high-end shopping and a range of galleries on the doorstep, Piccadilly is the ideal place to explore central London and what it has to offer. Knightsbridge is a short taxi ride to the west and Theatreland is a short walk to the east, while adjacent Green Park provides good Tube connections.
If you’re tired of the Ritz Restaurant—or just misplaced your jacket and tie—don’t worry, Mayfair and Piccadilly are full of fine establishments. For an alternative afternoon tea in an environment that’s all early 20th century European brasserie style, try the Wolseley (1-minute walk). For more fine dining, Corrigan’s Mayfair (15-minute walk) serves a gourmet British menu in a setting almost as attractive as the Ritz.
Sure, the Rivoli Bar is beautiful and the drinks are sublime but sometimes you just want a change of scenery. For more excellent cocktails head to the Luggage Room (12-minute walk) in nearby Grosvenor Square, or the refined St James Bar (12-minute walk) at the Balcon.
WHY WE LIKE IT
An iconic, landmark hotel in the center of London, the Ritz is everything it’s cracked up to be. From the exceptional service to the Louis XVI style, it’s like traveling back in time. While some amenities are slightly underwhelming—there’s no pool, for instance—the hotel’s impeccable service, grand status and excellent drinking and dining options make it a superlative choice.