London, as a whole, I think you will agree, is a pretty magical place. My first night as a new resident in this city, way back in 2002, I was almost intimidated by the enchanting city streets, the double decker buses and even the Tube. Naturally, after 15 years, there are many things that have lost their charm. The oh so enchanting city streets are way too overcrowded with tourists most days, the double decker buses are now simply a mode of transportation and the tube, well, don’t even get me started. However, there are a few things that cannot and will not be tainted in this great city of ours and top of my list is most definitely the experience of being a guest at The Ritz, London.
For a decade and a half I have regularly strolled the promenade in front of The Ritz, en route to either Green Park for a picnic or back towards Bond Street for some serious retail therapy. I’ve peeked in the windows, I’ve watched celebs slink in and out of the front doors, and I even tried to use the loo once, after a rather romantic champagne date in Green Park on a hot summer’s day, but was turned away because I was wearing jeans. Somehow that made me respect the legend that is The Ritz London even more. Then, finally, the day came when I was to be a guest at The Ritz.
I’ll be straight with you and freely admit that I spent half a day planning my arrival outfit. One doesn’t enter The Ritz London as a guest without some serious ensemble contemplation. You don’t want to look too diva-ish, yet still want to appear as if you were made to swan about in these hallowed halls. Upon arrival, reception was ready to accommodate a speedy check-in process. I mean we were just exhausted. That journey in from Brook Green is a tough one (all of the 15 minutes it took in an Uber… yes, I’m making a joke).
We were given a weighty key (love the old school throwback of it all) and told to make our way to The Piccadilly Suite. It must be known that I have heard tales of this decadent suite that holds an unparalleled view of Piccadilly as one of its many charms – hence the name. But, nothing could have prepared me for an entrance that demands attention from the get-go with a variety of priceless antiques present in a foyer that features a stained glass window. Yes, dear reader, our suite had it’s own half wall stained glass decoration. This didn’t feel like entering a hotel room. I was entering my dream London apartment. After making a quick stop to powder my nose in the entrance bathroom, I sashayed down the hall and wafted into the living room. Endless folds of decadent fabric decorated the windows, chairs upholstered in ornate silks were spotted around the room and a mirror that made me want to recreate the Arnolfini Portrait were just a few highlights of this space. The size itself was intimate and it was obvious that this was just a holding area, preparing you for the main event – the bedroom.
The bedroom of The Piccadilly Suite in The Ritz London can only be described as regal. This is a room where royalty have most certainly snoozed. I don’t know that for fact, I’m going on instinct here. There is space enough to move around freely in a ballgown, do cartwheels in your PJs or surround yourself with, say, 12 room service carts for breakfast. Plus, this is the room with the view. The next morning I sat at my vanity and applied blusher as those (now romantic again) double decker buses passed under my nose below. I felt like a princess. I would say I felt like a Queen, but let’s be honest- it’s much more fun being the one without all that pesky responsibility. The Ritz is a place where you want to let loose, have fun and use every second to its full potential. I wanted to stop and sniff every flower, shake every hand of every employee and snap pictures of every inch of carpet, crown moulding and more. And I was not alone in my fascination with the magic at The Ritz London. Every single guest we encountered seemed to have the same spring in their step, the same crooked smile that implied we were all thinking the same thing – “what did we do to deserve the opportunity to be guests here for even one moment, let alone a whole night or more.”
And of course then it came time to write about it all – to wax lyrical about the decor, the afternoon tea, the food, the staff and on and on. I quickly made the decision that the full scope of this project was too big for just one write up, and so I decided to make this a three part series. Consider this your introduction to The Ritz, the first formal handshake. Below, I’ve outlined some key facts and figures you need to know, followed by a few detail shots of The Ritz London Piccadilly Suite. Later this week I will follow up with parts two and three, and I’ll go ahead and give you a few clues, or maybe just one. It’s all about culinary delights, because actually the food at The Ritz is something that both guests and non-guests can enjoy equally. And let me just tell you that everything from Afternoon Tea to dinner and dancing is an experience I would wish all of you could have at least once in your lifetime.
Let’s start with a basic education with a look at the numbers, with some rather swanky pictures to aid us in our journey, if you’ll allow me.
And of course I had to share a few details of my room for the night, The Piccadilly Suite. Those stained glass windows truly just took my breath away. Sorry to keep going on about it!
Fashion Foie Gras stayed as a guest of The Ritz London.