Historic property dressed in opulent Louis XVI neoclassical decor
Located on the edge of lovely Green Park and close to the tube
Rooms with well-stocked minibars, fireplaces, and Asprey bath products
Suites have a 2:1 staff-to-guest ratio and free casino membership
Higher-end suites offer butler service and one Rolls-Royce airport trip
On-site restaurant with a continental breakfast (fee)
Dinner, dancing, and live entertainment at The Ritz Restaurant
Afternoon tea in the Palm Court and cocktails at the swank Rivoli Bar
Spa and salon with a full menu of services
Fitness center with up-to-date machines and equipment
24-hour room service, concierge, and valet parking
Freebies include Wi-Fi, newspapers in rooms, and shoe shines
Some rooms have back-of-building views
Some guests note a decline in service and tired decor
Frenetic lobby can detract from afternoon tea experience
Lacks extras such as free lobby refreshments and other details
No business center, and small fitness center with limited hours
No in-room coffee makers or electric kettles
Located in Piccadilly bordering Mayfair and Green Park, The Ritz London is a 136-room hotel that dates back to 1906. The four-and-a-half-pearl property is regally dressed in Louis XVI neoclassical style with a dash of jazzy Art Deco. Elegant rooms range from simple to opulent, with well-stocked minibars, fireplaces, and Asprey bath products. Some suites have views of Green Park or Piccadilly and separate drawing rooms. The poshest include one Rolls-Royce airport ride and a 24-hour butler. The hotel has free Wi-Fi throughout; a fitness center and spa; and an on-site restaurant, bar, and casino. But some repeat guests note a decline in service and increasingly tired decor in recent years. Those looking for a luxury stay that's modern and less buttoned-up may wish to try The May Fair Hotel on the opposite side of Piccadilly.
Grandiose architecture and extravagant furnishings for tourists and the well-heeled
It's hard to miss The Ritz's name in dazzling white marquis lights above the hotel's colonnaded entrance. Walking through the revolving door reveals a lobby that is nothing short of extravagant. Grand marble columns surround the circular reception area, but it's the striking red carpeting that captures immediate attention. Just off the lobby is the Long Gallery, a hallway of vaulted arches and French doors that divide drawing rooms. Chandeliers suspended from medallions, elaborate sconces, and shaded lamps give the space a golden glow. Formal seating areas flank the hall's runner where well-heeled guests fill overstuffed velvet couches and Louis XVI chairs. The Palm Court runs a tight ship managing five seatings for afternoon tea in an opulent setting -- think smoked mirrors, a Baroque fountain topped with gilded cherubs, and, of course, a forest of potted palm trees. In stark contrast to neoclassical design, The Rivoli Bar pays homage to Art Deco. High-gloss camphor wood walls set the tone in this sexy, dimly lighted lounge. Pricey craft cocktails, flutes of Champagne, and savory bites are served at intimate tables with curved, low-back chairs. The Ritz London attracts a clientele of moneyed business and leisure travelers along with scores of wide-eyed tourists who come to soak up the glamour.
On the edge of tony Mayfair and peaceful Green Park; close to sights and the tube
The Ritz London stands on the edge of Green Park in busy Piccadilly bordering Mayfair. It's a one-minute walk to the tube and close to several tourist sights. The area immediately surrounding the hotel doesn't have much in the way of interesting restaurants or shops. But there are dining options and luxury stores, including Fortnum & Mason a few blocks away.
One-minute walk to Green Park tube station
Eight-minute walk to Piccadilly Circus
Eight-minute walk to Buckingham Palace
13-minute walk to Trafalgar Square
15-minute walk to Westminster Abbey
Seven minutes to Big Ben via tube
14 minutes to London Eye via tube
16 minutes to British Museum via tube
17 minutes to St. Paul's Cathedral via tube
19 minutes to Tate Modern via tube
22 minutes to Tower of London via tube
31-minute drive to London Heathrow Airport (more with traffic)
Fireplaces, well-stocked minibars, and marble bathrooms -- but some rooms could use a refresh
At first appearance The Ritz's rooms are elegant and airy. Cream walls have decorative wood paneling, plenty of light streams through floor-to-ceiling windows, and attractive crystal chandeliers hang above. Stately fireplaces, gilded mirrors, period furniture, and textiles in soft shades such as peach, butter yellow, and lapis blue add to the appeal. However, closer inspection reveals the rooms' age, with faded bedding, worn fabric on furniture, and small chips on the floor molding and table legs. Still, amenities are up-to-date with free Wi-Fi, well-stocked minibars, flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, large desks, BOSE iPod docking stations, and safes. The all-marble bathrooms raise the luxe factor with gleaming gold fixtures, bidets, combination bath and showers, Asprey bath products, and terrycloth bathrobes. The Ritz's suites are a significant upgrade: sateen bedspreads, velvet-tufted benches, and gilded architectural details go a long way. High-end suites are palatial with double-high ceilings, expansive drawing rooms, and views of Green Park or Piccadilly. Expect ultra-lavish decor in the way of fine antique furniture, drapery and bedding done in rich, vibrant fabrics, and impressive artworks. Bathrooms are spacious with extravagant marble and some have walk-in showers in addition to free-standing bathtubs. Top-of-the-line suites offer guests a one-way airport ride in a Rolls-Royce Phantom and a 24-hour butler. Rooms start at 215 square feet; suites are three times larger or more. Smoking rooms are also available.
The standard features of a luxury property but missing those little posh extras
The Ritz London covers most standard luxury hotel amenities but lacks over-the-top decadence and pizazz for a property of its caliber. It also doesn't deliver on thoughtful details that can make a stay special, such as lobby refreshments and sweets at turndown. But it does provide a traditional English afternoon tea that's as classic as it gets: cut sandwiches, scones with strawberry preserves and Devonshire cream, teacakes, and mini pastries. (Guests should note tea has a smart casual dress code.) The Ritz Restaurant has a continental breakfast (fee) with a local fare add-on that comes with eggs and sides like cucumber sausage and black pudding. The lunch and dinner menu has special-order entrees for two such as venison wellington with roasted parsnip and red cabbage and a six-course seasonal menu (a three-course prix fixe is additionally offered at lunch). A la carte first course choices include a terrine of goose liver with pineapple and gingerbread and mains run the gamut from lobster with spiced carrots and lemon to lamb with cous cous and eggplant.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, there's live entertainment plus dinner and dancing. For kids, there's complimentary ice cream at the hotel's restaurant and a special menu; game consoles are also available for rooms plus pint-sized bathrobes.
The Ritz's spa is ultra-luxurious and offers a full menu of services for guests and visitors alike. There's a fitness center with up-to-date equipment and free weights but it's on the small side and isn't opened 24-hours. The hotel doesn't have a business center but there's free Wi-Fi throughout, 24-hour room service, a concierge, valet parking, and chauffeur services (for a fee) so guests can tool around town in The Ritz's signature Rolls-Royce Phantom.