A Ritzy address

24 Dec 2018 by Nisha Shroff

British architectural historian and author, Marcus Binney describes The Ritz as “more than a hotel. It is a legend. It is a place of anticipation, longings, and experiences”.

I couldn’t agree more ever since I walked through the revolving doors of The Ritz London on Piccadilly, which gained its reputation as a fashionable shopping street towards the end of the 18th-century. This historic address and its old-fashioned glamour beckoned me for a weekend of the high life.

As I checked-in, I was teleported to the Louis XVI era, where gilded statues, gold chandeliers, sweeping staircases, rich fabrics, gold-lined cream stone archways, antique furniture and suited attendants surrounded me. I have stayed at many luxury hotels in several locations but this 112-year-old hotel seems to be different from the lot. I thought of this when the staff handed over the key to my room — a distinctive navy blue and gold key ring, and not a key card. An indicator, perhaps, that some things in this hotel have not been “modernised”. Be that as it may, this age-old London icon has stepped into the modern era quite effortlessly, even enjoying the prestigious title of The Leading Hotels of the World.      

The hotel’s 136 Louis XVI-style suites and bedrooms are spread across various categories in different colour themes like rose pink, salmon pink, blue, white and yellow. My deluxe room was spacious and elegant in salmon pink overlooking the busy Piccadilly Street and Green Park. The interiors feature interlocking circle motifs known as a guilloche, hanging wrought-iron lamps entwined with painted metal flowers complemented by plush chairs, and an old-school fireplace. The bathroom was spacious and finished in red and grey marble and gold fixtures, stocked with Asprey London toiletries. The Ritz also offered a smartphone in every bedroom – free to use during my stay. For champagne lovers, the minibar comes with the exclusive Champagne Barons de Rothschild –Ritz Reserve.

Exterior of The Ritz London

Ritz London Cigars: A Luxury Cigar Shop

A famous quote from Churchill is framed on one of the walls of this cigar shop, which is the newest addition to the hotel. This room on the ground floor has a relaxed vibe with a strong aroma from the cigars stocked and displayed at their walk-in humidor.

The walls are mostly adorned with black-and-white portraits of some of the famous cigar smokers — you can spot Roger Moore and George Harrison puffing a fine smoke. The décor is set off by the wood-panelling and upholstered yellow chairs.

It is a perfect place for cigar-lovers to buy or sample some of the world’s finest Havanas. This shop houses 18 different Cuban cigar brands with over 65 varieties of cigars. Cigar Sommelier, Alex Sumerauer says, “We work as a sampling lounge. The purpose is to let our guests visit the lounge to sample it, and decide if they would like to purchase a box of the same cigar. So, here a guest is tasting a cigar before investing in an entire box of cigars.”

Sumerauer adds, we mainly offer Cuban cigars, which are special and exclusive. The reason why it is so special is, he says “The best tobacco is grown in Vuelta Abajo in the eastern region of Cuba where you get rich soil. That’s why it makes Cuban cigars so special.”

The ambience is relaxed with a handful of people puffing away in the room. Sumerauer says, “The longer the cigar the more creaminess, the shorter is a bit spicer.”


Not to be missed is the complimentary chauffeur-driven service in the hotel’s Rolls-Royce Phantom, for guests staying at one of the four suites. This Phantom comes with bespoke Ritz leather interiors, a hidden champagne compartment, heated massage seats, television screens, wifi, the Ritz blue carpets and the famous ‘Lion’.  Additionally, the car is on call should you wish to be driven around London, at a cost of GBP 300 per hour.


The Ritz traditional afternoon tea is served in The Palm Court salon, what was originally called the Winter Garden. Much of the charm of the space comes from the very French use of curves, rounded ends, and a stage-like setting perfectly framed by steps and widely spaced columns.

It looks nothing less than a film-set where high-profile guests sit at this many-mirrored court that rests between two palm trees, while enjoying more than 16 types of tea, accompanied by fresh sandwiches, warm scones, delicious clotted cream strawberry jam, chocolate cake, fruit tarts, and macarons in a three-tiered stand. With a strict dress code in its lounges and restaurants – gentlemen are decked in jackets and ties, and ladies in elegant attire.


The original Rivoli Bar was opened in 1920 as a fashionable cocktail bar with its own entrance from the Piccadilly arcade. The bar was shut for a while and reopened in 2001.

Dazzlingly lit, when I arrived at 6pm, the bar was busy but not cramped, and guests were engrossed in conversation. The bar offers some vintage cocktails (age-old recipes) and spirits like the 1950s absinthe and Louis XIII cognac.

The bar is made up of satinwood, comfortable furnishings include stylish chairs (some covered in faux leopard skin) and sofas are upholstered in gaufered velvet with stripes.


  • Quai d’Orsay 50: Perfect for beginners and aficionados alike, this short, light to medium bodied cigar was originally released for the French market. It is perfect for either starting the day with a nice creamy coffee mimicking the creamy flavours of the cigar or a glass of Boulard Extra Calavdos.
  • THE RITZ COLLECTION 1906, 54: This unique blend of Dominican and Cuban tobacco is made exclusively for The Ritz London Cigars. Starting with slight nuttiness developing hints of coffee and roasted cocoa finishing with dark chocolate and walnut. This can be paired with the 1906 L’Herauld Cognac, of which there are only six bottles available worldwide.
  • Romeo y Julieta Churchill: This iconic cigar size which was developed for Winston Churchill himself (7 inches by 47ring gauge), is steeped in history. This medium bodied cigar has beautiful nuttiness, creaminess and cedar notes, and pairs well with a Glenmorangie 18.
  • Hoyo De Monterrey Epicure No. 2: This fantastic Cuban robusto cigar is one of the top selling cigars in the UK due to its light but balanced flavour. It starts out with a slight nuttiness and woody feeling and the subtle hints of the lovely white pepper sensation. It can be enjoyed with a lovely Hennessey Paradis Cognac.
  • H. Upmann Connoisseur No. 1: This Robusto size cigar is for those who would like a light to medium smoke. It starts off with woody flavour developing mild peppery notes in the second and third puff and finishes with a lovely balance of spice, cocoa, and coffee.

THE RITZ CONCIERGE RECOMMENDS must-visits around the property

  • The Victoria and Albert Museum is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects. It is a fantastic museum for art, design, theatre and photography lovers alike. vam.ac.uk
  • Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. The Ritz is located close to Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace takes place every day and is really great to watch because of all the ceremony and tradition.
  • Take a tour on a vintage Routemaster double-decker bus and enjoy stunning views of the city, complemented by an afternoon tea. (Recommendations from Michael de Cozar, Head Hall Porter, The Ritz London)

theritzlondon.com; lhw.com

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