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London: Hotels

Fresh From Million-Dollar Make Overs, London's Top Hotels Are Enjoying A Renaissance
Stephen Brook
From the Print Edition:
Jeff Bridges, Sep/Oct 01

(continued from page 6)

150 Piccadilly, Mayfair, W1J 9BR
Tel.: 44/207-493-8181
Fax: 44/207-493-2687

Web: www.theritzlondon.com

115 rooms; 18 suites
Rates: singles about $400; doubles about $475; suites from about $670 to $2,500

The Ritz, the grand old dame of London hotels, was showing signs of wear by the mid-1990s. But then the wealthy Barclay brothers bought the property and began a costly renovation. The spectacular results are based on the original architects' drawings. Rooms, originally embellished with gold leaf, had been painted over; now they are restored to their pristine gilt condition. The palatial restaurant is, once again, one of the great public rooms in the city. The rooms are sumptuous and so are the marble-floored bathrooms. Each room has a woven carpet; no two are alike. The large, firm beds are specially made for The Ritz. A fax machine is in every room and personalized phone and fax lines can be provided (the former business center was closed for lack of use).

The Ritz Restaurant offers grand French cuisine at equally grand prices. The wine list is strong on Bordeaux but otherwise fairly perfunctory. The Palm Court, also renovated, remains a delight and a popular gathering place for light lunches, tea and cocktails. The once severe Ritz dress code -- jacket and tie required -- seems to have been relaxed. Being smartly dressed but tieless is no longer grounds for eviction.

The Ritz Club and its casino are under the same ownership as the hotel but are managed separately. Britain's strict gaming laws mean that hotel guests no longer receive special privileges at the club; they must apply to join just like everyone else.

Stephen Brook, a freelance writer based in London, specializes in wine and travel-related topics. James Suckling contributed to this report.


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