FROM PARIS: Cool and crisp winter days in Paris, who can complain about a working visit to the City of Light? A few years since my last stay, the cobblestone streets are familiar, the gorgeous architecture and skyline never change; unlike New York or San Francisco, and now even London, where glassy green high rise buildings compete with each other for a sliver of space. Baron Haussmann, the supreme civic planner under Napoleon, ravaged and rebuilt Paris for years perfecting the wide avenues, planting thousands of trees, creating an unrivaled beautiful city. The exchange rate has bounced dramatically, but for all the glamour, elegance, divine restaurants, marvelous museums, what other city compares with Paris?
Ultimately, what matters the most, is what you do once you reach your destination.
And with the recent refurbishing and reopening of Ritz Paris, I was thrilled to visit and enjoy the posh elegant Ritz once again. From the exterior, it is exactly the same, wonderful for those of us who like tradition and continuity. Hard to notice, but the entrance has been widened and is spanned with upper windows which floods airy light into the mezzanine and its now 18-foot high ceilings.
Although modern touches have been added, the historic classically elegant interiors pop with fresh pale spring accents with the original cream dominated color scheme. A good amount of the original classical Empire furniture and furnishings were refurbished, the massive crystal chandeliers sparkle, new mirror television technology has been added, touch pad to manage ac, lights, drapes, all at the stroke of a finger.
Of course, I was dying to see the newly redone suites including the Coco Chanel Suite. Original Imperial Suite and the Prestige Suites have been dedicated to former residents, including F. Scott Fitzgerald and Maria Callas. I wasn’t disappointed with the Chanel suite; it is decorated in pale taupe with black accents, an elegant simplicity, just as we remember Ms. Chanel, who resided here from 1937-71. Imagine, the stories these walls could share. A guest book would list Marcel Proust, the Duke of Windsor and Wallis Simpson, Ernest Hemingway, who claimed he liberated the hotel after the Second World War. Using the bar as a base, he did write here and make it a home, the bar was named after him in 1994; the famous Ritz barman, Colin Field, who is almost as well known as Hemingway, took it on to procure Hemingway’s original letters on Ritz letterhead to his then wife.
Ernest Hemingway once wrote in a letter to his friend, “When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz.” We could all share the same sentiment.
Reducing the number of rooms allowed for larger bathrooms, keeping the gilded swan taps and the maid and valet call pulls near the tub. The Ritz claims they invented the massive gilt switch that turns off all suite lights, and that remains as a nod to the past.
A few new additions, Salon Proust a beautiful room intended for afternoon tea or a guest library. Of course madelines de Proust are served as well as billberry tarts and other savories. The once lovely garden café has been topped with an arched glass roof, providing a comfy light filled place for afternoon tea and lunch. The garden has been expanded just off the café and it resembles a small Ritz park, more than two dozen linden trees, personally these trees remind me most of Parisian streets. In summer the garden flourishes with beds of blooming white roses and walls of climbing ivy.
Also new is the stunning Chanel Spa – Oh my, it is the perfect embodiment of Chanel. Classic, clean lines punctuated by dramatic pops of black glass.
The Piscine retained the beautiful turquoise mosaic in a newly designed stunning Art Deco style, it is breathtaking and a oasis of calm.
The Ritz was always known for mastering the fine art of luxury and the Grande Dame debut is very reassuring – everything has changed, but nothing has changed!