W1J 9BR Travel Guide
Britain’s first - and only - female Prime Minister, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, passed away earlier today, aged 87, following a stroke.
As tributes from the United Kingdom and around the world are coming in, both CNN and BBC are reporting Baroness Thatcher passed away at The Ritz London, the classic hotel on Piccadilly we recently discussed. She had been staying here “since being discharged from hospital at the end of last year” according to the BBC, having suffered poor health for a number of years, and retired from public speaking since 2002.
An enormously influential figure in both British and worldwide politics, Thatcher was Conservative Prime Minister between 1979 and 1990. We couldn’t possibly do justice to her legacy and accomplishments here, so we’ll point to the BBC obituary for those wanting to read more.
[Photos:Daily Mirror/The Ritz London]
Having shown you the hotel’s top-end Prince of Wales Suite, we’re following up today with the details on our stay at The Ritz London, including, lo and behold: free WiFi. At the Ritz. Who would have thought that?
Check In & Room Reaction
We walked the few steps from Green Park tube station to the Ritz and were checked in and personally shown to our room within minutes. We’ve seen almost the entire spectrum of room categories at the Ritz, from cozy entry-level Superior Queens to the top-end suites. Layouts vary, as do color schemes (pink, yellow, peach, and blue). Bathrooms are where you're most likely to see evidence of the hotel being constructed over a century ago, when having a private bath was a novelty, so you may want to inquire, depending on your preferences, for a bathtub or a separate shower.
After fantasizing about its $400 vintage cocktails, we recently had a chance to check out more of The Ritz London to see how one of the city’s grandes dames measures up against all the competition that has flooded in during the Olympic year (a tide that, incidentally, shows no sign of abating in 2013).
But before we get to the full details of our visit, we’ll first take you inside the hotel’s top-end accommodation, the Prince of Wales Suite. Set within William Kent House, the extension of the main hotel facing Green Park, HRH the Prince of Wales could almost wave at Buckingham Palace if he chose to stay the night.
"If you're blue and you don't know – where to go to, why don't you go – where fashion sits – Puttin' on the Ritz……"
London’s The Ritz certainly had some apropos music when we attended an event here last week, with Ella Fitzgerald’s version of the classic song livening up one of the decked out function spaces in William Kent House that we toured.
There was a lot to see, from the hotel’s top-end Prince of Wales suite, to a private peek inside the Ritz Club’s high-roller Salle Privée we managed to wrangle, but that’s all for another day. First, we need to talk
booze vintage cocktail collection at the Rivoli Bar, which given the price range (£90 - £250, or $130 - $400 USD) falls squarely in the Fantasy Friday bracket.
With China heralded a force to be reckoned with on the world stage, it should come as no surprise that other countries are cowering or, at the very least, catering to the nation poised to steal the U.S.' superpower spotlight. This accommodation extends to hotels in addition to scared witless politicians.
Tea at the Ritz with a side of anarchy, anyone? Much as, according to the Early Show today, it may seem all pre-Royal Wedding smiles in the capital, London’s seen a number of political protests turning violent recently – and the latest, on Saturday, against government spending cuts, ended with the lovely Ritz façade being trashed.
Ex Big Brother contestant Seany O'Kane, who happens to be a Facebook friend of ours, uploaded these pictures on Saturday showing the façade scuffed up with graffiti and spattered with paint
He wrote that the place was “trashed”:
Wow!! The Ritz Hotel in London is mashed up!! Anarchists in full riot mode!!
Christmas shopping, Ritz-style...
Childhood in England is a dream-breaker. Every little person (yep, us too) starts out convinced they’re going to be a footballer or a princess; then they grow up (and decide they’d rather be a banker or a glamour model). But we just got a whiff of our youthful enthusiasm back with the news that, although we might have passed our marrying-a-prince sell-by date, at least we stand a chance of being washed by one. Kind of.
See, The Ritz has just announced it's stocking a new range of toiletries. And it’s bypassed the normal Aveda-L’Occitane-Molton Brown stand-off by opting for a rather classier brand: the Highgrove Guest Collection.
The Ritz Club inside The Ritz London in Piccadilly Circus is a members-only club that features a swank old-school bar, an award-winning restaurant and get this, a casino that's open daily from 2pm to 6am. 6am!
There's an annual membership fee but if you're a guest of the hotel and you're over the age of 18, you can pop into the Ritz Club to hang out, completely gratis.You can even bring along up to six guests, which is an excellent perk for business travelers. (We're not so sure six of your rowdy 18-year-old friends would be very welcome.)
The dress code is simply "smartly dressed", no topcoat and tails needed but gentlemen guests are asked to wear jackets while dining.
Yet there is nothing casual about the Ritz Club. It is a lavish, gilded space that evokes the grand Edwardian casinos of Europe. Think chandeliers, heavy drapes, elaborate rug patterns, uniformed staffers, more chandeliers and more heavy drapes.
There’s some big spending (sorry) going down in London right now if the Mail on Sunday is to be believed. Apparently, singer Dame Shirley Bassey is about to up sticks from her pad in Monaco to spend the next two months living at The Ritz as she promotes her new album.
And there will be no entry level room for her - she’s going to stay in an executive suite, which comes in at a cool £4500 ($7137) a night. Wonder if they do discounts for long stays? If not, she'll be ringing up a hefty £270,000 ($429k) bill.