Hotel mythology doesn’t get much more fabulous than that of Paris’ Ritz, which is about to reopen after a four-year renovations project.
Over the years, this Paris landmark has hosted Ernest Hemingway, Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Marcel Proust, along with many other luminaries. Hemingway was by all accounts particularly devoted to the hotel, lavishing praise on it on a number of occasions, such as: “When in Paris, the only reason not to stay at the Ritz is if you can’t afford it,” and “When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz.”
Legend has it that he once tried to liberate the hotel from the Nazi air force who had used it as a headquarters during World War II. On reaching the Ritz he found they’d already left, but he marched in anyway and ran up a bar tab that included 51 martinis. One of the bars on-site is now named after him. The new incarnation of the hotel also includes a tea salon inspired by Proust and the world’s first-ever spa designed by Chanel.
The Ritz was scheduled to reopen in March, but a fire at the property a few months earlier which damaged the roof and top floor delayed the plans. The makeover, originally budgeted at €140 million ended up costing €400 million.
Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al-Fayed owns the property, which is situated on Paris’s Place Vendôme, an 18th-century square that’s famous for its ultra high-end jewellery stores.
There will be just 142 rooms available – the original hotel offered 200 – and half of those will be suites. The Duke of Windsor suite remains one of those and now includes a winter garden with a retractable roof for summertime. Rates will start at an eye-watering €1300 – an expense that seems only appropriate for the place that inspired the word “ritzy.”