The landmark Paris Ritz hotel is re-opening its palatial doors to guests Monday after nearly four years of renovations and a major fire.
The classically styled hotel, owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, has undergone a top-to-bottom overhaul after promising a “legend to be reborn” when it closed for the works in 2012.
Originally published on Pursuitist in 2016, updated with new information and photos from The Paris Ritz Hotel.
The iconic Ritz, situated on the swanky Place Vendome, will open its doors with 71 luxurious suites, including 15 historic Prestige Suites, and 71 rooms.
Renowned interior architect Thierry W Despont oversaw the restoration which will unveil three restaurants, three bars including famed Bar Hemingway and beautiful gardens and terraces with retractable roofs and floor heating to be enjoyed year-round.
École Ritz Escoffier will benefit from a third demonstration kitchen and the historic Salon Proust with its wood-burning fireplace will offer Ritz afternoon tea.
The Ritz Club will welcome “CHANEL au Ritz Paris,” the exclusive area dedicated to the art of CHANEL skin care for a unique sensorial and customized beauty experience. This two-story wellness universe will also feature an indoor pool and a modern fitness center.
A discreet tunnel connecting the parking lot to the hotel will be available for completely private guest arrivals and departures.
The hotel was supposed to have re-opened in March but a fire ravaged a section of the building in January, delaying the plans.
The hotel founded by Swiss entrepreneur Cesar Ritz in 1898 is storied as the lodging of choice of Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway, who has a small bar named after him.
“When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz,” Hemingway once said of the hotel that inspired the word “ritzy”.
The American writer famously rallied a group of Resistance fighters to go and liberate his beloved hotel which had been requisitioned in June 1940 by the Nazis and occupied by German brass including on occasions Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels.
However he was too late as the Nazis had already left, so he took to the bar where he is said to have run up a tab for 51 dry Martinis.
In more recent history however, the Ritz has become known as the place where Britain’s Princess Diana spent her last hours before a car accident in a tunnel in the French capital while being pursued by paparazzi.
The refurbishment of the Paris hotel, estimated at 140 million euros ($150 million) in 2012, was aimed at sprucing up the ageing hotel to cater to the tastes of its mega-rich clientele.
It now boasts a summer restaurant under a movable glass canopy, a larger ballroom and the latest technology in its rooms.
History: A Legendary Legacy
The Ritz Hotel Paris first opened its doors in June 1, 1898, under the guidance of visionary hotelier Cesar Ritz. With a dream of attracting the rich and famous, Ritz aimed to create a hotel where guests would feel at ease, at home, and utterly comfortable. Over the years, the Ritz became a favored destination for literary, artistic, and aristocratic personalities, leaving behind a rich tapestry of myths and legends.
Renovation: Transforming Tradition
114 years after its grand opening, owner Mohamed Al Fayed recognized the need for a significant makeover to ensure that the Ritz Hotel Paris maintained its status as the world’s finest hotel. With a stern warning to designer Thierry Despont, Al Fayed’s vision was clear: modernize the hotel while preserving its traditional 18th-century French decor. The result was a spectacular four-year, multi-million euro renovation that honored the Ritz’s history while adding a lighter and fresher ambiance.
Design: Subtle Elegance and Historical Grandeur
Thierry Despont’s design philosophy revolved around elevating the Ritz with more light and flourish, while maintaining the hotel’s historical essence. The renovation preserved most of the original classical and Empire furniture, period paintings, glass chandeliers, damask curtains, and embroidered bedheads. The signature gold-and-blue palette remained, but subtle tweaks to the limestone landmark brought a newfound sparkle to the Ritz Hotel Paris.
Bars: Legendary Haunts and Timeless Elegance
The Ritz Hotel Paris boasts several renowned bars that have etched their place in history. Bar Hemingway, once frequented by literary giants like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, received a refreshing update while preserving its original charm. Bar Vendome, more than just a bar, offers a Parisian brasserie experience beneath a retractable glass canopy. The Ritz Bar provides a casual setting for guests to enjoy a glass of wine, cocktail, light lunch, or appetizers.
Spa: A Haven of Luxury and Wellness
Formerly known as the Ritz Health Club, the Ritz Club Paris stands as the city’s premier health club after undergoing a remarkable transformation. Its restored Art Deco swimming pool is a sight to behold, enticing visitors with its elegant allure. Guests can indulge in rejuvenating spa treatments and enjoy a range of wellness amenities, creating a haven of luxury and relaxation within the heart of the Ritz.
What’s New: Unveiling Delights and Exquisite Offerings
Beyond the revitalized spaces and legendary bars, the Ritz Hotel Paris presents an array of new experiences. The Salon Proust offers an elegant backdrop for a French afternoon tea, accompanied by delectable pastries and the option to savor Ritz champagne. L’Espadon, the gourmet restaurant, serves exquisite meals in its interior dining room and outdoor garden space. The Ritz Paris concept store within the hotel’s shopping gallery showcases travel-themed gifts, while the Ritz Bar presents a more casual atmosphere for guests to savor culinary delights.
With its remarkable history, meticulous renovation, exquisite design, legendary bars, luxurious spa, and a range of new offerings, the Ritz Hotel Paris continues to epitomize unrivaled elegance, making it a timeless destination for discerning travelers seeking an extraordinary experience in the heart of the French capital.
Christopher Parr, is the Editor and Chief Content Creator for Pursuitist, and a contributing writer to USA Today, Business Insider — and the on-air host of Travel Tuesday on Live at 4 CBS. He is an award-winning luxury marketing veteran, writer, a frequent speaker at luxury and interactive marketing conferences and a pioneer in web publishing. Named a "Top 10 Luxury Travel Blogger” by USA Today, Parr has also been selected as the official winner in Luxury Lifestyle Awards’ 2023 list of the “Top 50 Best Luxury Influencers and Bloggers in the World.”