Created by Cesar Ritz a century ago as the most modern, luxury hotel ever built, The Grande Dame of Place Vendome reopened in a hush last year following a 4-year refurbishment. The 20th Century came and went at The Ritz, with it guests like Marcel Proust, Charlie Chaplin and Ernest Hemingway as well as residents from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Coco Chanel and Princess Diana. A family-owned hotel curated for more than three decades by Mohamed Al-Fayed, Ritz Paris lures those unimpressed by mere amenities, contemporary design or brand names found in any other international city. As The Ritz is found only in Paris, any stay in the city would be incomplete without a check-in at this fabled address.
An air of security is a constant in Paris these days, even at The Ritz with its rotating door that is the single way in and out - and past constant watchful eyes that greet guests by name. A 6am check-in was readily given by generational staff that seems most eager to fulfill every guest whim - whether it's a basket of hot almond croissants or a same-day reservation at David Toutain. Thanks to designer Thierry Despont, there's an airier feel to the lobby following the remodel with its wider red carpet and lobby now benefiting from double-height ceilings flooded with light. Outside, a Versailles-style park links the two buildings of The Ritz lined in linden trees with beds of impeccably manicured white roses that connects the hotel's two eateries and three bars - including the iconic Hemingway Bar.
Perks of being a family-owned hotel include an incredulous staff-to-guest ratio and decision during the remodel to pair down the room count from 159 to 142 - all of which will finally come online this year. Only 90 of the rooms have been available to date due to a fire just prior to opening. The more-spacious accommodations feature the same traditional 18th-century French décor reinvigorated with customized pieces, acquired antiques and replicas modeled after the original furnishings. The Coco Chanel Suite - where the famed fashion designer resided, basks in the best views of Place Vendome and collection of books and items in her honor. Impossibly gilt-painted walls and ornate carets are paired with the most modern of lighting details to create a mix of old and new that is uniquely The Ritz. Be it the world-class service, impeccable attention to detail, or the legendary prestige and history housed within the walls, The Ritz is quite possibly the greatest hotel in the world.