>>>The new face of the Ritz
Photo: Vincent Leroux. Cortesía del Ritz París.

The new face of the Ritz

The legendary Ritz Paris reopens to the public, with a new look but remaining true to the obsessive attention to detail of its founder, César Ritz, and to the celebrities that catapulted it to fame.
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emodelling without losing one’s essence: while this is the great paradox of change, there are experts at finding a solution. The Ritz Paris is one of them. Following four years of work, an investment of 200 million euros and a spectacular fire, this most legendary of hotels reopened its doors on 6 June, in the City of Light. This is the first time it has ever been closed for so long since it first opened over a century ago. Its mission: equip itself with 21st-century technology, to return more luxurious than ever, while remaining an institution on Place Vendôme.
Hemingway and Bertin Azimont, bartender at the Ritz from 1926 to 1975.
Photo: Ritz París.

The masterpiece

The biggest of the luxury suites, the Suite Impériale, measures 218 square metres. It has views over Place Vendôme and a room that is a replica of the one at Versailles that belonged to Queen Mary Antoinette. 25,000 euros is the minimum guests will have to pay if they want to travel back to the 18th century.

Innumerable celebrities immortalised its rooms. Coco Chanel moved to one of its former suites in 1934 and lived there until her death in 1971. During World War II, she abandoned it briefly, while German soldiers were occupying it. She returned, however, preferring to live with enemy troops than to leave the legendary location. When a Nazi officer requested the room she was staying in, she went to another, in the Ritz building, which overlooks Rue Cambon. The situation became more enjoyable when she started a love affair with German baron Hans Günther von Dincklage, with whom she came to share her new home.
Ernest Hemingway spent many a night at the famous Ritz bar, which is now named after him. He also attempted to personally liberate it from the Nazis when World War II came to an end. The American writer overtook General Leclerc—commander of the Allied troops—and went armed with a submachine gun to the bar in a Jeep, accompanied by several soldiers. On his arrival, the Germans had already left on foot, so he ordered a drink to celebrate. Hemingway would feel at home today on visiting the renovated establishment. The lamp shades are new, but the original furniture remains. Its current owner, Mohamed al Fayed, chose to conserve and restore. This way, he was able to satisfy guests asking that the soul of the place not be destroyed in the process. “The new Paris Ritz is the same as ever, but in better shape,” he assured them.
Lounge of L’Espadon restaurant, with two Michelin stars, run by chef Nicolas Sale.
Photo: Adrien Dirand. Cortesía del Ritz París.
Today, its rooms will be occupied by Madonna, Beyoncé and Kate Moss. Every room hides nearly 2 km of cables. There are televisions camouflaged behind mirrors and trestles. But historical details are still there, like the tulip lamps, the cords to call room service or cleaning, and the handmade Haviland porcelain pieces, used since 1898, the year it was first opened.
In Salon Proust you can read while enjoying tea and cake.
Photo: Adrien Dirand. Cortesía del Ritz París.
The number of rooms has been reduced from 159 to 142, to optimise light and space. The latter is inseparable from the new concept of luxury, as interpreted by the architect responsible for the renovation, Thierry Despont. Some of its 71 suites are named after firm friends of the hotel: Coco Chanel, Scott Fitzgerald, Marcel Proust and Maria Callas.
However, it is also equipped with new features, all adding a modern touch. At Ritz Club Paris you can enjoy a 16 x 9 metre heated swimming pool, massage rooms, and fitness rooms with state-of-the-art machinery. The Ritz Bar is an elegant bistro, with more than 50,000 wines to choose between. There is also L’Espadon restaurant, with two Michelin stars to its name, Bar Vendôme, a Parisian brasserie, and Salon Proust, a sophisticated library, with fireplace and tables, to enjoy a cup of tea. Spaces like the École Ritz Escoffier, the school famed for its courses in haute cuisine, and the Chanel Au Ritz Paris area for treatments and personal care, supplement its facilities.
Now the guests will have their turn. They are the ones who will discover whether Hemingway’s words are still true, that “the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz”.

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