London Duck Tours favourite place to stay when overnighting in London town is of course The Ritz, the Grade II listed landmark hotel on the edge of Green Park and Piccadilly.
A French Palace in London
A long standing beacon of high society and opulence, the Ritz Hotel first opened its doors on 24th May 1906. Designed for the Swiss hotel magnate Cesar Ritz, it was the first steel-framed building in London. A spectacular combination of modern design and eighteenth century detail, its exterior is of Norwegian granite and Portland stone. The 111 rooms and 23 suites are beautifully decorated – the original lavishly gilded interior was in the French Louis Xvi Style, with jaw dropping features such as ten feet long crystal chandeliers, plasterwork ceilings and palatial marble floors. To satisfy your inner French queen, there is even a Marie Antoinette suite! Ooh la la. Indeed, the luxurious style of the hotel created a term “ritzy” which was then used to describe anything that had over the top glamour!
Puttin’ on the Ritz!
Since the first world war the hotel has been the centre of London society – attracting actors, politicians, writers and royalty. Noel Coward dined frequently at the hotel in the 1920s and 30s.
Throughout the hardships and danger of World War II, the Ritz Hotel remained open, albeit with a brief dip in the glamour stakes. The hotel ran a full restaurant service, but had to resort to cooking rationed and non-rationed food on upturned electric heaters!
After the hardships of war, The Ritz was the starting location of an now infamous night out had by Queen Elizabeth II (then Princess Elizabeth, aged 18) and her younger sister Princess Margaret to celebrate VE Day in 1945, depicted in the recently made motion picture “A Royal Night Out”.
Afternoon tea and cocktails
The famous Palm Court area of the hotel, with its sparkling golden framed mirrors, is still the location of choice for the most decadent of afternoon teas to be had in London – indeed “Tea at the Ritz” is always on Charlie Duck’s birthday list!
Did you know? The quaint Rivoli art deco cocktail bar was remodelled in 2001 to resemble the bar aboard the Orient Express! All aboard for martinis and clotted cream scones!