The Ritz Paris is one of the most famous hotels in the world. Since it opened in 1898, it has set the bar for luxury and excellence in hotelkeeping, standards that it continues to deliver and uphold today. In 2010, it gained “palace hotel” status – placing it among the finest in Paris.
Comprised of three townhouses in the heart of Paris with a restrained and chic entrance on the Place Vendôme, the property offers 142 spacious rooms and unique suites and a hotel clientele that reads like a who’s who of the 20th and 21st centuries. A shopping corridor of upscale vitrines and luxury boutiques links the front entrance on the Place Vendôme to the rear on rue Cambon with a beautiful garden at the hotel’s heart. There are three restaurants and two bars, the Ecole Ritz-Escoffier culinary school, The Ritz Club with a spa, fitness centre and the largest swimming pool in Paris.
The hotel has also recently opened its own patisserie - Ritz Paris Le Comptoir – a boutique on rue Cambon for Parisians in search of the best French pastries.
The Ritz Paris is located in the city’s very heart, the northwest corner of the Place Vendôme in the 1st arrondissement – the famous 18th century square and the site of the Vendôme column, erected by Napoleon I to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz.
It is the starting point for the upscale shopping avenue of the rue de la Paix, which then leads onto the place de l’Opéra and the Palais Garnier, around a ten-minute walk from the hotel. The Opéra metro station is about a seven-minute walk away whilst the Tuileries Gardens, Galeries Lafayette, the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay are around fifteen minutes’ walk away.
A transfer from Charles de Gaulle Airport takes around 35 minutes’ drive by limousine.
The 142 rooms and suites of The Ritz Paris are a mix of discreet old-world French neo-classical and Grand Siècle style filled with antiques, beautifully stylish upholstered chairs, gilded mirrors and artworks, marble fireplaces, ornate tapestries, beautiful drapes and crystal chandeliers. Even the entry level rooms seem spacious with views of rue Cambon or Place Vendôme. At first glance, technology seems absent but, no, it is so subtly integrated as to be invisible. The televisions are found inside the gilt-framed mirrors, remote controls inside a leather box. The Italian-marble clad bathrooms still have the iconic gold swan taps and apricot-hued lines and robes – the colour M Ritz thought best suited the complexion.
As the room sizes increase, so do the facilities of course, from dressing rooms, wrought iron balconies and separate sitting rooms. It is however the prestige suites that come to mind when talking about this hotel, some named for the personalities who lent their glamour and prestige to the hotel, among them Maria Callas, Charlie Chaplin, and F Scott Fitzgerald. Others salute historically important figures such as the architect Mansart and the composer Chopin.
La Suite Windsor - as the name might suggest - was a private retreat for the Duke and the Duchess of Windsor who kept a suite at The Ritz to socialise and entertain friends. Light and bright with the Duchess’s favourite pastel blue shades to naïve prints, silks, and carved woodwork. The Suite Coco Chanel is where she lived for over 35 years until her death. Re-imagined by the late Karl Lagerfeld, it is a vision of French chic, dressed entirely in black and white with framed portraits of the designer on the walls and Coromandel lacquer screens. The Marcel Proust suite by contrast feels like a bachelor pad with wood panelling whilst the Ernest Hemingway has a carefully stocked library and little-seen portraits of the author.
The Suite Impériale is perhaps the most famous, inspired by the splendour of Versailles, it even has a bedroom identical to Marie-Antoinette’s at the palace from the furnishings with the half-canopy bed and chaise longue to the décor. The bathroom is wood panelled with exquisite carvings and a central circular marble bath. This suite, the finest in the hotel, is listed as a National Monument to France.
The subterranean home of The Ritz Club Paris definitely has the wow factor. A “home away from home” for the elite, there are over 40 group fitness classes weekly, a fitness room with state-of-the-art equipment and personal trainers, skin care treatments and a private hair salon by David Mallett. All The Ritz Club signature treatments, administered in plush cabins, are personally designed to realign balance, unravel tensions or to energise. It has also paired with French beauty brand Biologique Recherche to offer a range of effective and indulgent facial treatments.
The heart of the club however is the stunning heated swimming pool – the largest indoor pool in Paris - with 800,000 hand-laid tile mosaics composed of fifty shades of blue giving an iridescent effect. The high ceilings, columns and sweeping staircases at each end lend the feel of a rather smart Art Deco terrace. Relax after a few laps with one of Colin Field’s healthy cocktails at the adjoining Pool Bar.
It seems appropriate as M. Ritz and his colleague Auguste Escoffier created the hotel dining experience that we know today that they are both honoured with a cooking school in the kitchens of The Ritz Paris. It is a place where French gastronomic know-how is imparted to both professionals and the interested as Escoffier himself said: “Culinary art must evolve constantly, never resting on its laurels or on routine.” It is not just a question of simple classes or workshops; would-be cooks might also don an apron and play apprentice!
One of the most valued public areas of the hotel has to be the lush, 1,700-square-metre Versailles-inspired central gardens, planted with white roses, ivy and avenues of Linden trees. An oasis of green in the middle of the city, the garden is landscaped in the pure French tradition with a fountain, sculpted boxwoods and clusters of white flowers and magnolia trees.
One of the newest departures for The Ritz Paris is Le Comptoir an upscale patisserie. Located on rue Cambon, steps from the Place Vendôme, is aimed primarily at Parisians in search of the best French pastries in the city. Pastry chef François Perret has even unveiled a new format to enjoy his creations – you can now drink his own classic pastries as they become unique smoothies. Using fresh and seasonal products, there are also sandwiches and salads, particular the well-known César which may or may not be named for the hotelier.
It is a strange fact that the word Ritz is in common usage, seen in even the English Oxford Dictionary. A word meaning extravagance to many, but it is the surname of a man who started life as the son of a Swiss peasant who once herded his father’s goats. He worked his way up the hospitality ladder as a waiter, then hotel manager who finally opened his own hotel at the age of 48, saying at the time “It is a little house to which I am very proud to see my name attached.”
The importance of César Ritz and his Parisian hotel in the world of hotelkeeping cannot be underestimated. He effectively created the luxury hotel with his service ethic and the revolutionary features which were installed which are now commonplace – in room phones, private bathrooms, king sized beds, wall to wall carpeting, automatic closet lights, extra-large soaking tubs, lifts, electric lights – and most important of all, a chef of the calibre of an Escoffier in charge of the restaurant. He knew what the customer wanted because “the customer is always right”. This dedication to service, client loyalty and privacy was rewarded in return with the patronage of the great and the good, the worlds of celebrity, politics and royalty merging seamlessly at the hotel, many of whom immortalised the hotel in both literature and song.
Today’s Ritz plays homage to this proud heritage, a hotel which closed for four years to undergo a multi-million-pound renovation in 2012 and emerged with its charm and history intact much to the relief of its affluent clientele. The technology is there, just hidden within the ornate décor.
So, expect classic old-world charm and opulent neoclassical style throughout the property and unimagined standards of smiling and courteous service – the same welcome shown to everyone who has crossed the threshold since 1898.
The fine dining two Michelin-starred La Table de L’Espadon under chef Nicolas Sale is housed in a room to complement food of this quality, enjoying the proportions and style of a gilded ballroom of the Grand Siècle with a magnificent ceiling mural, delicate plaster mouldings and gilt touches.
A central floral display is highlighted by the Murano glass crystal chandelier above. There are Murano wall lights, tableware by Haviland decorated with an imperial motif and crystal centrepieces by Daum. L’Espadon translates as “swordfish” and the restaurant was named by César Ritz’s son Charles for his shared love of fishing with Ernest Hemingway, both accomplished fly and deep-sea fishermen.
With the feel of a Parisian brasserie of the Belle Epoque era, the Bar Vendôme is both restaurant and bar, open throughout the day under an arching glass ceiling which retracts in the heat of summer, extending the plush wood-panelled bar. Effectively a Winter Garden, it feels more like a luxury conservatory in the cooler months albeit one with beautiful rugs, draped fabrics and velvet armchairs. In the afternoons, it is the place to take that very English of rituals, Afternoon Tea imported by M. Ritz from London, with tiny sandwiches, savouries, scones and pastries. Historically, The Ritz was one of the first hotels where women could travel unaccompanied to enjoy the “five o’clock tea”. Nearer the bar, there are velvet banquettes and a quieter atmosphere.
It is said that WWII war correspondent Ernest Hemingway, who had parked himself at the tiny Bar at The Ritz Paris when he was a penniless writer in the 1920s, wanted to be part of the Allied liberation of Paris and took it upon himself to personally liberate the bar. So apparently, at the head of a bunch of resistance fighters, he did so. His later “liberation” was a bar tab for 51 martinis! Now named for him, the intimate, cosy Bar Hemingway with bartender Colin Field at the helm, features leather armchairs, an old-fashioned typewriter, Hemingway memorabilia and a menu styled as a newspaper in his honour. No muzak here, come for the atmosphere, for inspiration and for conversation.
The Salon Proust named for the author and Ritz devotee, made this lounge library his headquarters. Even the tea service, made from white Limoges porcelain honours the author to the smallest detail. This wood-panelled sitting room, where Proust once hosted intimate salons, today offers a French-style teatime daily with his beloved madeleines, served with other biscuits and marble cakes. At 6pm, the Salon Proust becomes a Champagne Bar.
All the restaurants are child friendly with smaller portions available.
Unfortunately, The Ritz Paris has no active sustainability initiatives it can share.