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The Ritz name evokes elegance and class. The epitome of luxury. It’s simply legendary, n’est-ce pas? A-list celebrities, history, intrigue, love stories, drama, and tragedy even; the Ritz has it all.
Wishing to experience this Parisian institution first-hand, I stopped by one morning, on a whim. Alas, my attire was not proper, as jeans, walking shoes, and a potentially-threatening, paparazzi-like camera in hand won’t do. The black-suited security guard invited me politely to leave the premises, while saying something about looking out for their guests’ privacy. I guess they take that very seriously there – as they should. Not one to be easily deterred, I went back at a later time, after elevating my sartorial choices to an acceptable level. And I was quite glad I did.
The Ritz truly is a magical experience. The lobby looks majestic with its tall, arched windows, blue velvet seating, and delicate flower arrangements throughout.
Right off the lobby is Salon Proust, where afternoon tea is typically served. It makes perfect sense, since this is a calming and quiet space decorated as a cozy library. With a bit of imagination you can picture Coco Chanel, with her impeccable two-piece suits and strings of pearls, sitting in her favorite spot by the fireplace and discretely observing the passers-by. A long-term resident of the hotel, she was known to prefer it to her own apartment on Rue Cambon.
Famous names like Chanel’s are the norm at the Ritz. One other illustrious guest, the cocktail-loving Ernest Hemingway, left his indelible mark on the place by having one of the hotel’s bars themed and named after him. Bar Hemingway is one of the most sought-after Parisian hideaways, with its limited “first come, first serve” seats and an atmosphere that is thick with untold stories. With a bit of luck you might get Colin Peter Field—the Head Bartender who’s reputed as one of the best in the world—to share one or two with you.
Right across the hall, the Ritz Bar has, perhaps, less of a literary history, but its level of coziness is equally on point. It’s masculine yet warm, the subdued lighting giving the decor an autumnal glow.
Bar Vendôme is also quite small, but lacking a bit in intimate atmosphere. It almost feels like a transition area. Thankfully, the décor makes up for that, with upholstery in a luxurious red velvet and dark walls covered in black and white photographs of celebrity guests.
After drinks, if you’d like to stay for a meal, L’Espadon, one of the hotel’s two Michelin-starred restaurants, is the place to go. You have the choice of dining in the atrium, which resembles a Victorian conservatory, with turquoise-colored metal beams reminiscent of London’s Covent Garden. If you want even more refinement, La Table d’Espadon is the one for you. It’s a bright, elegant space with an abundance of natural light, cream-colored walls and light pink accents. Montmartre-born Chef Nicolas Sale and his team have earned the restaurant two Michelin stars, only one year after the hotel reopened in 2016 following a major refurbishment.
If you’re in Paris in December, you might want to put the Ritz Paris on your wish list. Their Christmas decorations are stunning, and you’ll also have a chance to experience their holiday-themed brunches, afternoon teas, and Christmas dinners.