Paris' opulent treasure
142 Rooms / 71 Suites
When dreaming of Paris — of its centuries of history resulting in grand institutions, paeans to art, instantly identifiable architecture and sublime food — few modern-day edifices tie itself to the city as closely as the legendary Ritz Paris, opened by Cesar Ritz in 1898.
The hotel’s prime location in the Place Vendôme has anchored it not just as a temporal respite for weary travelers but as an actual home to luminaries such as Coco Chanel (she lived there for 35 years), Ernest Hemingway, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Marcel Proust, as well as many major political figures visiting the city in the last century.
By the turn of the 21st century, however, the Paris hotel was showing its age. So, in 2012, it made the bold decision of closing for the first time in the Ritz’s history to undergo a top-to-bottom renovation.
Thousands of people worked to preserve the hotel’s original details — everything from hand-painted gold leaves on crown molding to restoring hundreds of pieces of artwork — while adding modern touches like bigger bathtubs and stronger wi-fi connections. The hotel fabulously debuted on June 6, 2016, opening a world of opulence and historic prominence to the 21st-century traveler.
Enter the Paris hotel and the soaring lobby impresses, with an oversized antique map of the city resting beside a grandiose fresh floral display, designed by Les Jardin de Matisse’s Anne Vitchen. The senses are also immediately flooded by the calming signature smell of the Ritz — amber.
You may notice the stairs abutting the lengthy hallway of art and flowers. Still, it is the stunning new Bar Vendôme arching itself over the initial portion of the hotel that commands the most attention at ground level.
The Rooms and Suites
As for the rooms, no detail has been spared. Each has flashes of the Louis XIV spirit infused when the luxury hotel first opened; only now, things thrust toward modernity. The 13 seminal suites particularly stand out and are named after some of the famous guests: Suite Maria Callas, Suite Coco Chanel and Suite F. Scott Fitzgerald, for instance.
When entering Suite Windsor, floor-to-ceiling windows flood the rooms with light and central views of the Place Vendôme, including the flagship Chanel boutique across the square. Beds are draped in a neutral blue canopy. Linens are splendidly soft with equally plush pillows.
The bathrooms still host the signature pink towels, monogrammed with “Ritz Paris,” and placed on gold inlaid heated stands with swan faucets also adorned in gold leaf (with one sapphire eye and the other ruby).
In keeping the technologically savvy traveler in mind, electronic access points are hidden behind wooden slats in the desk while the “on/off” button for the television and the lights are encased in a single panel with buttons designed to resemble sapphires, rubies and other jewels. The gesture is clever and aesthetically pleasing.
Breakfast, lunch, dinner and the ever-popular brunch fill Ritz Paris’ brasserie/conservatory with the bright sounds of happy people. With comfortable-yet-design-forward chairs, wide tables to balance multiple portions and an all-around aesthetic straight from France’s bistro heart, it’s impossible not to smile.
Another new addition to the hotel is Salon Proust, named for French writer Marcel Proust. Prior to the renovation, this area was but a simple sitting room. But with a painting of the novelist as its centerpiece, the room’s space has been redesigned in a sultry blend of reds and velvets to accommodate afternoon tea, served under the culinary vision of beloved executive chef Nicholas Sale.
Other options for libations include the world-renowned Bar Hemingway, where you’ll find head barman Colin Peter Field. Designed as an homage to The Old Man and the Sea scribe, the space was renovated to include more artifacts from the writer’s life. Bar Hemingway is inviting and restful.
The Other Amenities
Of course, Ritz Paris has made other enhancements that deserve mention. The downstairs indoor pool is among the best (not to mention the biggest) in Paris. The new Chanel au Ritz Paris enlists the famed design house’s assistance with the sanctuary’s look and feel of its treatment menu. Residing in a two-story health club, it’s the first spa in the world from Chanel.
The hotel added a third kitchen in its École Ritz Escoffier, a cooking school named for groundbreaking chef Auguste Escoffier who worked at the Ritz. The school teaches the French way of cooking to everyone from children to veteran chefs.