Cesar Ritz invented the modern luxury hotel. The palace hotels he created in London and Paris brought new standards of architectural elegance and comfort to grand hotels and were followed by the Ritz Hotels in Madrid and Lisbon and the Ritz-Carltons in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Montreal. The London Ritz was designed by the architectural firm of Mewas & Davis, who introduced French elegance into English interior design. They decided that the whole hotel should be one style—that of Louis XVI, the ravishingly pretty fashion of the eighteenth century that is forever associated with Marie-Antoinette. From the start, the intention was to create an air of intimacy, the feeling of a French nobleman’s residence permanently en fete. Ritz himself abhorred large hotel lobbies, and the architects created the illusion of grandeur with a gallery running the length of the hotel in which guests could promenade or sit in comfort at any point and be served. In this splendid, beautifully illustrated book, the intriguing history of the London Ritz is traced from its opening in 1906 to the recent extensive refurbishment under new ownership. Here are anecdotes about its most famous visitors, accounts of its important events, and profiles of the people responsible for giving it such an enduring reputation. The resulting volume will delight not only those lucky enough to have enjoyed firsthand the unique pleasures of the Ritz, but everyone who has a feeling for London, luxurious living, and the attraction of unsurpassed quality.
Marcus Binney is architecture correspondent for the London Times and author of many books, including Winfield House and The Royal Hotel, London. He lives in London.