Photos of the large and the good – and the fabulously glamorous, of course – line the walls of the bedrooms at the Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly of London. The place itself is synonymous with opulence, and no wonder they would like to celebrate such a diverse and beautiful history.
After all, this was the place where the Russian Prima Ballerina Anna Pavlova danced in 1912, where the Aga Khan and Paul had Getty suites, and where Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower and Charles de Gaulle met to discuss operations during the Second World War.
Jackie Onassis described the hotel – famous for its more-is-more lush décor and oceans of chinz – as & # 39; as paradise & # 39 ;. Peter Sellers brought Sophia Loren here. Noel Coward wrote songs on one of the wings (the largest suites they have) and actress Tallulah Bankhead drank famous champagne from a slipper.
Prime Ministers Harold MacMillan and Edward Heath ate here. Margaret Thatcher even died here and chose to live her last weeks in a luxury suite.
New ITV documentary Inside The Ritz Hotel reveals the secrets of the historic hotel. Pictured: (l-r) Andrew Love Vice President of The Ritz, Michael De Cozar Chief Concierge, John Williams MBE Executive Chef, Ian Gomes Residential Pianist, Kae Shibata Pastry Sous Chef, Robert Eldridge By Person
Ritz employees only remove their white gloves when royal relatives such as the Queen, who celebrated her 80th birthday at The Ritz in 2002, visit the hotel
For our royal family, the place has always felt like a home from home (perhaps until the extraordinary fact that they have employed guilders as staff, so is the requirement to keep up with the gold-leaf supplement). The Queen Mother has eaten here and would like to receive a serenade with A Nightingale Sang at Berkeley Square while she did.
The Queen held her 80th birthday party here. It was the place where Prince Charles and Camilla Bowles were first photographed as a couple in 1999 and where in 2007 a young miniskirt Kate Middleton tried to enter through the iconic revolving door – only to find it closed.
What stories these walls could tell.
Head concierge Michael De Cozar has been with the hotel for 46 years and started as a bellboy. His father worked for him at the hotel. Michael & # 39; s own uniform is military-precise, is laundered daily and his shirt collars are starched to an inch of their lives.
An interior of The Ritz Restaurant in London
How strange that, however, when former Vogue editor Anna Wintour – famous for her perceived grooming door as her fashionable acumen – stayed here, she did not find the portraits of celebrities to her taste. At every visit she removed the offensive images and put them in a drawer.
How do we know that this is the highest of the first-class locations? Well, the Ritz staff noticed, she said, and started removing them for her. & # 39; Now they're just gone when I come, & # 39; she says about the pictures & # 39; s. & # 39; I don't even have to go through that. & # 39;
You will not read things like that on Trip Advisor, but please.
How we love a documentary that goes behind the scenes to give us some insight into how the other half lives. In recent years, many of the biggest, craziest hotels in London have opened their doors for fly-on-the-wall documentary treatment. Claridges had the camera & # 39; s in, just like the Corinthia.
Former Vogue editor Anna Wintour – famous for her perceived picture door as her fashion memory – began to stay here, did not find celebrity portraiture to her taste. At every visit she removed the offensive images and put them in a drawer
The Ritz Kitchen: Chef John Williams John Williams won the hotel his first Michelin star in 2016 and his life's work is celebrated with a special dinner on the occasion of his first cookbook. Given that this is a man who – and often – has cooked for the queen, this is quite something. & # 39; We treat all our guests in the same way, but if you know you're cooking for the queen, yes, there's a special frisson, "he says. So she's his favorite client? Not really. & # 39; She is in second place. My favorite person in the world to cook for is the Prince of Wales. He knows his stuff. He has a great palate. "He likes to tell how the Prince of Wales dissected a dish, is able to tell every ingredient. & # 39; Even many chefs can't."
Getting a TV crew in the Grande Dame of all for ITV & # 39; s four-part Inside The Ritz Hotel, which starts Wednesday, is quite an achievement, although the documentary treatment here – just like the hotel itself – is a completely different beast. This is not a fly-on-the-wall exposure, calls for a PR manager for the hotel, but a celebration of the proud traditions of the hotel.
This means that no inappropriate filming is taking place in the laundry room, or uncomfortable segments that place the wages of the staff next to the extreme wealth of the guests. There is no filming with staff who make excessive demands. No dirty linen here, in whatever sense.
That does not mean that it causes boring looking. Quite the opposite. It is incredibly informative, for beginners, especially in all laundry matters.
Who knew (well, apart from those who can afford a room) that the Ritz is one of the few hotels in the world that strictly adheres to tradition in the bedroom? The Ritz has 136 rooms and the housekeepers change 2000 king size sheets every week, but no duvet covers. Instead, they use blankets, all the better to make guests feel safe and comfortable (and maybe back at boarding school?).
As Deputy Executive Housekeeper Vicky Bielinski puts it: & # 39; We are fairly traditional beds in the sense that we still use blankets. We have many guests who see that and think "oh wow, that's something I remember from my childhood". & # 39;
Michael even got a leading role in the film Notting Hill. & # 39; I still get Japanese tourists who come to ask for my signature, & # 39; he concedes.
At The Ritz, all pillows are made from feathers and down and, as Vicky claims, they should be & # 39; firm but not too firm & # 39; to be. There is apparently a test. & # 39; If you let it rest on your arm, if both sides fall over, then it's time for a new one. & # 39;
Although new pillows are always desirable in a hotel, there are many things – at least here – that must remain strictly as they have always been.
One of the more eyebrow-raising revelations in the series is that the spirit of the famous strict dress code set out for guests in 1906 when the Ritz was opened by Cesar Ritz has remained – presumably unlike other elite hotels that today allow billionaires to ath-leisure and trainers.
At the time, everything about the place was deliberately showy. Hotelier Ritz wanted the exterior to look like it belonged to Paris and the interior, so you thought you stepped into Versailles.
Julia Roberts was seen in Notting Hill at The Ritz hotel in 1999
Hugh Grant was seen filming Notting Hill at The Ritz hotel
The corridors were extra wide – allowing two women in frou-frou dresses to pass, and the place became notorious (of the good kind) because it was known as the first hotel in London where ladies could remain unchapered for afternoon tea.
With its pastel-colored decor and soft flattering lighting, the Palm Court is designed with women in mind. & # 39; Cesar Ritz always insisted on having a peach pink glow, and that was of course also meant to make the ladies look beautiful & # 39 ;, chef John Williams reveals. & # 39; And if the ladies look nice, the men will follow. & # 39;
And it is actually still the law around here that both ladies and gentlemen should still look, ladies and gentlemen.
While other five-star companies have bowed to the jeans and the trainers' brigade (at least if they are billionaires), the Ritz has not. It is a whim that is celebrated by those who remain regular and who want to maintain such standards.
Penny Lancaster – also known as Lady Stewart, wife of rock legend Sir Rod – is filmed and celebrates her birthday at the hotel and has a fur coat over her cocktail dress. Never knowingly underdressed, she thinks the dress code – which might as well be & effort, please & # 39; – makes this place standout.
The Ritz Kitchen (l-r) Deepak Mallya Sous Chef, Tom Scade Sous Chef, Spencer Metzger Premier Sous Chef, John Williams MBE Executive Chef, Kae Shibata Pastry Sous Chef and Lewis Wilson Pastry Chef
& # 39; I think The Ritz is the only hotel that is expected to be & # 39; will prove & # 39; and will take the trouble, and that is beautiful, & # 39; Penny says. & # 39; Everyone is dressed. It is in the spirit of The Ritz. & # 39;
Another guest – so at home that he hurls himself on one of the beds with his shoes on, tsk! – is actor Richard E Grant. & # 39; It almost feels like you're walking into an era of elegance that doesn't really exist after the Bill Gates basin where, if you were a billionaire, you were wearing jeans and sneakers, & he said.
& # 39; The Ritz did not fall for one of that proletarian democracy. & # 39;
Some may see this as a blocked attitude. The employees here – who have their own demanding uniform standards – do not do that.
We catch up with chief caretaker Michael de Cozar, who has been with the hotel for 46 years since he started as a belboy.
His father worked for him at the hotel. Michael & # 39; s own uniform is military-precise, is laundered daily and his shirt collars are starched to an inch of their lives. A peculiarity of the hotel is that staff wear white gloves – but fastened on their shoulders.
The only time they are removed and worn on the hands is when a member of the royal family enters the hotel.
Prince Charles and Camilla Bowles were first photographed as a couple, pictured together in 1995
Quite a faf, certainly, but isn't it outdated to expect guests to dress, even for a quick bite of lunch? & # 39; Absolutely not, our guests actually want it & # 39 ;, Michael says. & # 39; We are one of the few hotels around the world that have strict dress codes, and I love that. & # 39;
John Williams, a straightforward man, a man of standards, does that both inside and outside the kitchen. He complains that almost every other hotel has gone sloppy with the dress code. & # 39; Everyone has changed. We have become unique, the last bastion.
But people don't mind dressing up, and it would ruin it if they didn't. "He says how the rooms themselves are dressed – in the manner of Louis XVI; think of Elton John's boudoir, but with more tassles – dictates how things should be. & # 39; It would ruin it if people were not dressed It doesn't look right. It wouldn't feel right. & # 39;
Unfortunately, there are no images of bewildered US billionaires winding themselves up with torn jeans, but it has to happen. Are there arguments, I ask? Michael de Cozar can think of nothing worse. & # 39; We are not debating here. We suggest. We help. We always have a solution. & # 39;
American actress Rita Hayworth (1918 – 1987) and her husband Prince Aly Khan (1911 – 1960) leave the Ritz Hotel in London for Ascot, June 15, 1949
Sophia Loren and Peter Sellers in May 1960
They also have a huge wardrobe, where they can dress you from head to toe, if you look particularly sloppy. & # 39; Oh yes. We have jackets, shirts, skirts, when ladies appear in jeans. And shoes. Shoes in all different sizes. & # 39;
Let's hope they are expensive shoes, considering the prices of everything else here. Prizes are not mentioned in the series – perhaps too vulgar? – but a standard room will bring you back around £ 745 a night, while one of the larger suites will be around £ 5,000.
Afternoon tea – now available all day, the demand for a tasty sandwich – can range from a bargain of £ 58 per head, but then you can choose from 18 different teas, and you can rely on the services from a real tea sommelier (if you have to ask what that is, you are in the wrong hotel).
You naturally pay more if you want a glass of champagne. And if you start with cocktails with real gold spots in them, you have to invest again.
Beatles singer Paul McCartney with his bride Linda Eastman and her daughter Heather after their wedding ceremony. Lunch was at the Ritz Hotel. March 1969
Sometimes this series feels like a step into another – surreal – world, but maybe that's the point.
& # 39; What we like to give is a magical experience & # 39 ;, says Michael de Cozar. So much so that when Richard Curtis was looking for a location to film the hotel scenes in Notting Hill, he looked no further than The Ritz. Michael even has a leading role in the film. & # 39; I still get Japanese tourists who come to ask for my signature, & # 39; he concedes.
Those celebs who nowadays enjoy the magic – or at least those who get filmed – are hardly Jackie O. Strictly speaking, Janette and Aljaz are here, taking champagne and celebrating their birthdays.
Liverpool footballer Mo Salah has checked in and is surprised that they actually serve his favorite macchiato coffee.
He clearly expected that the menu would also crash in 1906. Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey (who filmed some of his scenes here), is going to do everything to reflect on how he comes here for afternoon tea and his great childhood treat.
It was of course Cesar Ritz who set the standard for this class of hotels, with the immortal words: & # 39; Never say no if a customer asks for something, even if it is the moon. & # 39;
Voted Ten Best: Afternoon Teas – The Palm Court at the Ritz Hotel
Michael is held on the phone and assures a guest that the restaurant can of course find a table. & # 39; If we can't find you a table, I'll get the carpenter to make one, & # 39; he insists and throws his arms around with a big bloom. & # 39; John doesn't like it when I say that, & # 39; he admits later.
& # 39; The restaurant only has so many blankets, so you can't exceed that. & # 39; But the point was made. Everything is possible for certain guests. Later he is back on the phone with the services of the hotel limo – an adapted Rolls Royce Phantom 8 – to bring a lucky (and charged?) Guest to dinner. & # 39; Don't tell your wife. It will be a surprise & # 39; he says.
It's all pretty absurd, but there are really moving moments. John Williams earned the hotel its first Michelin star in 2016, and his life's work is celebrated with a special dinner to mark his first cookbook (and the hotels).
Given that this is a man who – and often – has cooked for the queen, this is quite something. & # 39; We treat all our guests in the same way, but if you know you're cooking for the queen, yes, there's a special frisson, "he says.
So she's his favorite client? Not really. & # 39; She is in second place. My favorite person in the world to cook for is the Prince of Wales. He knows his stuff. He has a great palate. & # 39;
He likes to tell how the Prince of Wales dissected a dish, is able to tell every ingredient. & # 39; Even many chefs can't do that. & # 39;
Ritz, London – a monumental 5-star hotel, one of & # 39; the world's most prestigious and famous. It was opened in 1906 by developer Cesar Ritz and is famous for its afternoon tea service. It is the first hotel to receive a royal order (HRH the Prince of Wales)
There have been other diners for whom cooking a meal was rather special (and no, we do not mean Bill Clinton, although he is on the list). John comes from a fairly modest background in the northeast.
His childhood was certainly not spent on an afternoon tea in The Ritz. & # 39; It was more likely on the back of a fishing boat & # 39 ;, he says. However, before his parents died, he was able to treat them for dinner at The Ritz. A dinner that he cooked.
& # 39; They have eaten in a few of the places I have worked and they have never really got used to it & # 39 ;, he laughs. & # 39; My mother always looked at the menus & said – well, I can't order from this. Too expensive. She would always have the chicken. & # 39;
But isn't this the profession? The vast majority of those checking in at The Ritz will pinch the idea of ever being somewhere, no matter how deep their wallet is.
As Richard E Grant says, & # 39; It took me many years before I had the confidence or the money to walk in here and enjoy what it has to offer. I think you feel that if you have gone through those revolving doors, you can deceive yourself that you have arrived, no matter how short that moment. & # 39;
Then he laughs and the bubble bursts. & # 39; The service is devilish, & # 39; he jokes. & # 39; You forget you're right, generous felt, which is in the nature of good service. & # 39;
Inside The Ritz Hotel, Wednesday 8 pm, ITV
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