The American movie star Humphrey Bogart, who loved his down-home chow, said “A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz.” Well, maybe that’s true if the hound in question is being consumed at Yankee Stadium during a World Series clincher. Otherwise I’ll take the Ritz, just as I did on a recent visit to London.
The roast beef in the Ritz restaurant is just one reason this legendary hotel continues to attract the rich and famous. There is also the view, inside and out. The Ritz Restaurant is one the most beautiful eateries in the world. The floor to ceiling windows, the rich and varied use of soft pink, pale green and veined white marble, and the garlands of chandeliers reflected in the wall of panelled mirrors, combine to create a magical interior.
The west facing windows overlook Green Park and during the day, the sunshine casts dappled light across the crisp white table cloths, while in the evening chandeliers and table candelabras create a dazzling duet of soft light with the mirrors that is enough to make any dinner feel memorable. Breakfast at the Ritz is a special treat. It’s more informal than at other times, although there is still likely to be a Hollywood star, politician, aristocrat or billionaire bold-faced named sitting at the next table.
The Ritz opened in 1906 and with its French chateau-style architecture and its interior decorations in the style of Louis XVI, the hotel was, according to the famous hotelier César Ritz, “a small house to which I am proud to see my name attached”. Over one hundred years later the Ritz has retained its feeling of intimacy tinged with glamour. In any season there are few places in London that are better to call home, at least for a few days, than the Trafalgar Suite, with its expansive views over Green Park, the most effortlessly charming of the Royal Parks that is dignified by an artful simplicity in 47 acres of rolling grass, mature trees and narcissi (the only flowers grown there).
Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks was composed specifically for a fireworks celebration held in Green Park in 1749 and a summer’s evening spent with the windows of the Trafalgar Suite open to the soft breeze as a CD of Handel’s Fireworks plays is a perfect way to end a busy day. Trust me, you won’t want to leave.
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