At the end of July, the iconic Ritz Paris will close its doors for a £160 million makeover. The landmark hotel, the epitome of opulent travel for the past 114 years, will be treated to a two-year “total refurbishment” – its first major facelift since 1979.
CLICK ON PHOTO FOR FULL GALLERY
Located on the Place Vendôme, the charming but ageing five-star hotel has always lured a bevy of high-profile figures.In 1944, Ernest Hemingway personally reclaimed its bar from the Nazis and afterwards popped open bottles of champagne with his posse of resistance fighters. Coco Chanel famously declared it “ma maison”, living for almost 40 years in a suite that still bears her name. And it was the place where Diana, Princess of Wales spent her last night.
The establishment was opened in 1889 by the Swiss hotelier César Ritz and was the first to have en suite bathrooms and electricity in all the rooms. The Ritz has always prided itself on its luxurious facilities – the hotel’s stylish reputation gave birth to the English word “ritzy”.And with rooms starting at a cool €850 a night, it’s a reputation that needs to be upheld.
The failure of the hotel to qualify for Paris’ new category of "palace" hotels last year probably prompted owner, Mohamed Al Fayed, to take action. While regulars have expressed concerns that their home from home will lose its old-world charm, it seems the Ritz must move with the times and compete with the surge of ultra-modern, hip hotels popping up across the City of Light.