They say you should never meet your heroes. To meet them is to make them mortal, to remove the glean, to open yourself up for a cold shower and a dose of reality. The Ritz. A giant in the world of hotels. A legend in the business of service. A statement in design.
Walking into the Peter Street entrance, up a few small steps, somehow seems too plain a way to initially experience this particular hotel. No massive mahogany door? No trumpets? No reveal? Nothing grand for this grand old lady. Just an inquiring look from one of the door staff. The slightest sense that you don’t know where you are going or your outfit is out of place and a “Can I help you Sir?” will follow. This is both a mark of service and a sign that the Ritz is for a certain type of guest.
Thankfully our attire passed the grade, helped greatly with the forewarning of the dinner invitation being accompanied by a note about the strict dress code. I imagine that sometime around the 1960s in a move that shook the foundations of the building they removed the word “evening” from the compulsory “shirt, tie, jacket, trousers and shoes for the gentleman” and a “dress” for the lady. It is as formal a place as you could find in London but somehow it doesn’t feel stuffy, or pretentious. It is simple what it is and what it has always been.
So there you are in your glad rags and you can be reassured that no matter how smart you look the staff will out shine you. From Bell Boy to the Barkeep, they are impeccably dressed and mannered. Mostly in black or dark blue jackets and crisp white shirts, reflecting the care and attention that they are instructed to serve to guests and patrons. If you are a guest you will be escorted to your room upon arrival. If you are a diner you will struggle to carry even water from the bar to your table as any one of a number of eagle eyed staff stymie you before the thought has even fizzed in your brain.
Our seasonal five course meal was fantastic and great value. At £93 a head it’s not cheap but is well under many poorer quality menus in this city. It was a wonderfully balanced walk through an English autumnal garden with the Chef pulling and pushing your taste buds through orchards, woodlands and fields. Apple, chestnut, radish, kale, partridge and onions all sprouting boldly and bravely throughout the courses.
After our third round of desserts we made our way back to our junior suite. As you can imagine, as much detail has gone into the design of the guest rooms as the rest of the hotel. With a beautiful fireplace, antique furniture, a cosy sofa and king size bed the suite is designed to instantly make you feel calm. The huge bathtub and fluffy bathrobes certainly aid in the relaxation process. Although the Ritz is positioned in one of the busiest parts of London you would be hard pressed to hear any noise coming from the street below. The soundproofing, the opulent surroundings and the knowledge that you being treated like royalty make for a perfect night sleep and an experience you will never forget.
Practically Perfect PA received complimentary accommodation at The Ritz. Our opinions are entirely our own. Advertised minimum rate per night is £653 (February 2015).