We’re on our way to catch the 7:15 AM flight from Honolulu to Los Angeles where we’ll catch a connecting flight to London. Too early for Bloody Marys so we have tea and coffee at the only airport concession stand that’s open. The Honolulu airport feels strangely weird in this nearly deserted condition. We watch the sun come up in all its peach and apricot glory.
I’m in shambles by the time I crawl off the plane. The dry air and lack of solid sleep has added 10 years to my demeanor, I’m sure. But we’re soon greeted by the welcome sight of Roy, our driver. Dressed smartly, he helps us gather up our luggage and we proceed into London town to the Ritz. It feels good to settle into the back seat of our car and be driven for the next five days without worries or cares.
We are successfully registered and shown to our “deluxe” room and despite a somewhat peculiar layout a long hall containing two closets (one concealing the mini bar) and the entrance to the bathroom leads from our front door to our bedroom, it is indeed a luxurious suite of rooms. With its floor-to-ceiling French doors opening onto Green Park, its full flowing, heavy floral tie-back draperies, its gold leaf moldings and marble mantled fireplace, it is exactly what I had envisioned.
The Ritz Restaurant: I am in awe. I had been unaware that this dining room is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Europe. It is of such opulence that it takes my breath away. The entire room is comprised of round tables set for two or four. White tablecloths flowing to the floor contrast with red crushed velvet chairs. Crystal and silverware gleam and multiply in the mirrored surfaces. Overhead there are so many chandeliers that I later learn the ceiling had to be specially reinforced to hold their weight. We are seated in front of a gold leaf Neptune with various nymphs and maidens reclining in a sylvan glade painted on the wall behind him. I reach for my napkin in order to arrange it on my lap and in so doing touch the tablecloth. We are in serious linen country here. I have never felt such rich, heavy, damask in my life. Add to that the fact that it is overlaid on a second heavy linen round that falls to the floor. This in an age when in most restaurants you’re lucky to get a place mat.
Next stop is the Rivoli Bar. All male patrons must wear jacket and tie but we knew this so Freddy is prepared. Not so some of the others that try to get in and are gently offered a box of carefully folded ties from which to choose and a house jacket. It’s an interesting study to watch how different people play their roles in this little scene. Some huff off; some smile and go off to fetch their own tie and jacket. The Rivoli Bar is a sensuous room, all done up in art deco, with gleaming surfaces of polished wood, mirrored walls, velvet covered chairs, Lalique glass, and gold leaf everywhere. The seductively curved bar seats four and exudes an air of privilege and exclusivity. I order a double bourbon with a splash of soda and Freddy has scotch. Nicolas, the bartender, is straight out of a movie with his impeccably white dinner jacket and slicked back Leonardo Dicaprio hair. He charmingly chats us up and we find out that he is German-Belgique. During the conversation he suggests we inquire at the front desk about becoming members of The Ritz Club. We did. We repair to the The Ritz Club for cognac and Calvados. The bar in The Ritz Club, warm and gracious, envelops us in quiet luxury. We are Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn in a 1930s film.
Too soon, six days have passed and we must head home to Hawaii. It feels sad to leave. Everyone has made us feel so welcome and the time has passed by so quickly, but we’re organized and ready to head back to Heathrow. Freddy takes the elevator to the lobby but I linger a bit by wandering slowly down the central circular staircase, bidding the fairyland that is the Ritz, “Goodbye.”
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Opened by renowned hotelier Cesar Ritz in 1906, The Ritz today still retains all the glamour and excitement synonymous with this world famous hotel. Perfectly located in a landmark position on Piccadilly in the heart of London's West End, the 136 room luxury hotel is ideally placed to suit both business and leisure visitors alike. Now totaling 111 bedrooms and 25 suites, the elegant rooms combine the original Louis XVI style interiors with modern day technology. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful rooms in the world, The Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant features a magnificent frescoed ceiling with west facing windows overlooking the Terrace, the Italian Garden and Green Park beyond. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily, with a Dinner Dance on Friday and Saturdays. The Palm Court restaurant offers, most famously, daily Afternoon Tea service which has been popular since the hotel first opened. The stylishly updated Rivoli Bar was designed by Tessa Kennedy and features Art Deco styled interiors. Open daily with a bar menu. Private dining facilities at William Kent House, the 18th century mansion house at The Ritz, include an exquisite selection of banquet rooms and suites. Possibly the most elegant and opulent private rooms in London, William Kent House offers the perfect venue for private receptions, weddings, boardroom meetings, lunches, dinners and gala events. The Ritz London is a Grade II star listed building and in 2002 became the first hotel to receive the Royal Warrant from his Royal Highness The Prince of Wales for banqueting and catering services. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Ritz London Hotel London
- The Ritz Hotel London
- Ritz Hotel London
- Ritz London
- London Ritz-Carlton