The Grade II listed 5-star Ritz, in London’s Piccadilly, has been sold to a Qatari investment fund for around £700 million.
In these unprecedented times, as a result of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, for the first time in 113 years, the iconic hotel temporarily closed its doors on Friday 27th March. The Hotel was launched in 1906, and remained open through times of difficulty, including the two world wars.
Designed by French Architect Charles-Frederic Mewes and Englishman Arthur Davis in Louis XVl style, the Hotel was opened by Swiss Hotelier Cesar Ritz on 25th May 1906, but was not an immediate success, losing over £50,000 between May 1906 and July 1908, resulting in the appointment of a new manager, Theodore Kroell. At this time, room rates per night were 1 – 1½ guineas. The Ritz was made fashionable in 1911 with the patronage of the Prince of Wales, and the Hotel’s success followed. Film stars, including Douglas Fairbanks, actors and high society figures frequented the Hotel. In 1921, Earl Louis Mountbatten’s friend Charlie Chaplin had to be ushered inside the Regal Suite by 40 policemen to protect him from his fans. In the 1930’s the then Prince of Wales honed his dancing skills at The Ritz. During World War II, eminent royals enjoyed the social whirl at this hub for the aristocracy.
After World War II The Ritz was owned for 30 years by the Bracewell-Smith family, who also owned the nearby Park Lane Hotel. In October 1995 the Hotel was purchased from Trafalgar House for £75 million by the Barclay twins Sir Frederick and Sir David, of the Ellerman Group of Companies, owners of The Daily Telegraph. The Group spent £40 million and eight years in restoring The Ritz to its original grandeur, with sparkling chandeliers, and it was the first hotel to receive a Royal Warrant from Prince Charles, for banqueting and catering services. Former Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, chose to live out her final days in a suite at the Hotel.
Luxury, elegance, and attention to guests’ every comfort, have been the bywords of The Ritz, under the direction of Chairman Andrew Love, and the 450 strong staff. Executive Chef John Williams oversees the Michelin starred restaurant, and the quintessentially English Palm Court Afternoon Tea experience is enjoyed in its opulent setting. A favourite of the Royal Family, it was here that Prince Charles and Camilla Duchess of Cornwall chose to make their relationship public in 1999, when as they left a birthday party for Andrew Parker-Bowles’ sister together, they were greeted by an explosion of flashbulbs from photographers, in a memorable exit from the hotel.
The glamorous gold-leafed Ritz Club, former home to the Ritz Ballroom where some of the finest London balls were held, with its gaming tables offering Roulette, Blackjack, Baccarat, and Poker in the basement of the Hotel, is run by Director David Herbert, who welcomes members to its luxurious and exclusive surroundings.
The Grande Dame of international hotels looks to the future and its next exciting chapter.