THE RITZ LONDON was the first hotel to receive a Royal Warrant from His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, but long before that, this iconic institution has been the hotel of choice for royalty, dignitaries and discerning guests. I was intrigued to experience it for myself.
Our arrival coincided with the Christmas holidays, and the building had been transformed into an impossibly decadent festive wonderland. Inside the hotel, garlanded with extravagantly rich red and gold trimmings, the 25-foot towering Christmas tree took pride of place in the lobby, flanked by glistening baubles and incandescent lights. Our two and a half year old was stunned to silence. (This was a good start.)
No guest goes unnoticed at The Ritz. Especially children. Keen to highlight their excellent credentials for families, there’s now the Kidz@TheRitz programme for mini Ritz fans. With over 50 per cent of the hotel’s rooms offering the possibility to be interconnecting (guaranteed at the time of reservation), the programme is quite unique.
Greeted at check-in with his own itinerary, Walter was immediately in awe of the splendour of The Ritz. Met by all the staff as a Very Important Kid (VIK), children are given their own VIK membership card, entitling them to complimentary ice cream in the Palm Court or Ritz Restaurant. In the room, he was allocated his special Ritz bathrobe, slippers and set of bathroom toiletries. Gifts included a mini Ritz backpack, Ritz teddy bear and set of Mr Man books to keep him entertained. DVDs were left in the room to watch, along with all the cot and bedding a two year old requires.
And our deluxe suite must be one of the most special in London. On the corner of the building on the fifth floor, one side overlooks Piccadilly itself and the other into St James’s Park. Views to the outside are spectacular, and on the inside, the luxurious Louis XVI-style interiors had their own Christmas decorations, including a tree.
Considered by many to be the most opulent hotel restaurant in the world, we ate a spectacular dinner in The Ritz Restaurant. We were expecting this to be a speedy affair, our son usually tiring of sitting still after a short time. But not a bit. He slowly savoured his pizza from the children’s menu (sure to please even the fussiest of young diners), while we wolfed down excellent choices from the menu of ‘palace-style’ food that the restaurant is famous for. The restaurant’s legendary service did not disappoint: despite being the only child in the room, the staff were ever the professionals and didn’t raise an eyebrow. We stayed until 9 o’clock, when Walter’s eyes were still shining with excitement. The surroundings definitely seemed to improve his behaviour. Milk and cookies were then served before bed.
The Ritz London certainly ensures that every generation has a positively memorable experience. As for Walter, the lucky boy has experienced the most exclusive children’s programme in the world. Now it’s back to reality with a bump. If the VIKs are treated this well, can you imagine what it would be like to be a VIP at The Ritz?
The Ritz clearly remains the byword for celebration, with guests already enjoying its infamous afternoon tea in the lavish Palm Court when we returned from breakfast, and even when we left dinner. On this note, The Ritz celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion have created some exclusive programmes for guests to enjoy the Best of the British. In February, guests can enjoy a visit to Highclere Castle, the setting of acclaimed television drama Downton Abbey, to experience the finest of hospitality, cuisine and a private tour of the castle. In May, Her Majesty The Queen will be celebrating her 90th birthday, and hotel guests have the opportunity to be present at one of Her Majesty’s official birthday celebrations in Windsor Castle’s private grounds. Now that’s the best of British.