• Ritz Hotel, London
  • Ritz, London
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  • Ritz Hotel

    As an example of extreme richness, with the refinement that comes from study, there is probably nothing better in modern work than the Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly, London. It is the work of Mewès and Davis, archtects, the former being the designer of the Ritz Hotel in Paris and the Palais des Congres in the same city.

    The Ritz Hotel, near the most exclusive London clubs, faces Green Park. Its facade is strong, dignified, almost severe, yet refined in its Louis XVI. treatment, with its bays running through several stories, its high dormers and tall chimneys, its graceful iron balcony-rails, and its occasional spots of exquisite carving. We are captivated by the delightful terrace, where one can dine almost in the midst of the refreshing coolness of Green Park. We wonder why the mansard roof on the Arlington Street facade descends to the fourth story, until we learn that "Ancient Lights" exacted it. But perhaps more than anything else we are impressed by the unprecedented manner in which the hotel has usurped the sidewalk of Piccadilly, covering it with an arcade similar to those on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris. When we come to examine it, however, we find that the facade is flush with other facades on the street, that the sidewalk is on the property of the hotel, and that it is the roadway which gains in width, much to the advantage of its generally over-crowded condition. A London architectural magazine, in commenting on it, calls it a goop precedent and asks that it may continue. The upper stories are all of Portland stone.

    We enter from Arlington Street by the main guests' entrance. We mount six steps, pass through a revolving door, and find ourselves in a large circular vestibule. On the right is the clerk's desk, with a place for keys, letters, etc. Directly opposite, on the left, is the main stairway, flanked on the right by two passenger-elevators and on the left by a room used by the clerical staff. But what holds our attention on entering is not the objects immediately around us, but the long vista which opens before us under the receding arches of the long gallery, leading the eye through the glass door to the restaurant, through the large windows giving on the terrace, far out into the greeness of the Park. We wander down the gallery. A group of beautifully, upholstered Louis XVI. chairs, a happily designed sofa, tempt us to linger. In fact, the charm of the deelicately tone Savonnerie carpet that runs the length of the hall, designed as it was especiallly for the hotel, of the exquisitely carved gilt-bronze lamp-brackets, and of the ridh hangings and furnishings, enhanced, as they are by the simplicity of the stuc pierre walls, would entice us to linger here, were it not that the eye suddenly lights on a new vista; for through what at first appears to be a window there opens before us, in a flood of light, a garden gay with many plants and palms. We go a little farther down the gallery, mount three steps to the left past two marble Ionic columns, and find ourselves in a garden enclosed in walls of grey-white Echaillon stone, relieved as to panels and to cornice by a gilt wood lattice happy in its arrangement and proportions. Yet so open is the room, with its ceiling of glass in a frame of gilt bronze, with the broad entrance and windows to the gallery, and the many plate-glass mirrors set in gilt-bronze frames, that there is no feeling of being shut in. The outdoors feeling continues in the lamps, two beautiful works in wrought iron bright with gilded and painted foliage and flowers. Most striking and attractive of all, however, is the fountain directly opposite the entrance, with the refreshing prattle of the water, which flows from the vase in a miniature waterfall to the basin beneath. The happy contrast of the gilt repousse lead of the graceful figure and its fram of aquatic foliage, tritons, and armorial bearings against the Echaillon stone, together with the pleasing proportions of the enclosing niche and order, give the fountain a charm quite its own.

    With its tasteful and inviting Louis XVI. furniture this room becomes a most attractive spot in which to meet a friend. Perhaps the Winter Gardens, for so it is called, is seen to best advantage on entering the hotel by the vestibule directly opposite, in the middle of the Piccadilly front, for it is by this entrance rather than the other that visitors enter the hotel and it is particularly for visitors that this room is intended. This vestibule gives direct access to a ladies' cloak-room and retiring-room, to a men's check-room, and to a special stair leading to the Grill Room in the basement. We must notice in passing how the fresh air enters the room by the lattice grilles under the console wall-tables and leaves by the lattice ovals over the doors.

    Let us return to the gallery and continue on toward the restaurant. The glass doors to the latter are guarded on either side by a life-size firgure in bronze-vert, resting on pedestals of polished Echaillon stone. They hold clusters of six lamps in gilded bronze. Before us is the restaurant, its further wall opening on the Park with four elliptical-headed French windows filled with plate glass set in bronze frames. Everything is rich in material and design; the handsomely wrought service, the choice flowers, the rich yet quiet Louis XVI. furniture, the soft, delicately tinted carpets, the walls all paneled with rare yet harmonious marbles -- breche d'Alep, rose de Norvege, vert de Suede, and veined statuary marble -- relieved on all the piers by bronze brackets, each of five lamps, similar to those in the gallery, or by panel designs in gilt-bronze torches, arrows, and crowns. More especially is our attention drawn to the ceiling, a gala ceiling, inspired by the print of St. Aubin called “Le Bal Pare et Masque.” The center, a greal oval blue sky with light clouds enclosed within a frame of gilt,and completed at either end by small circles filled with delicate roses, serves as a background for the sixteen floral crowns suspended from it.

    These, with their many lights hidden among a mass of flowers and foliage with their connecting garlands ‘of bronze flowers, give the room a peculiarly festive character. A feature has been made of the wall opposite to Piccadilly, a shallow recess in the middle being made to receive a buffet of breche d’Alep with garlands of gilded bronze. On this, against a tapestry background, is a life-size group in gilded lead of “Thames and the Ocean,” the Ocean a female figure catching in a shell the water coming from a vase held by Thames.

    But there are other rooms to see. From the end of the restaurant nearest Piccadilly we pass through a vestibule flanked on either side by a life-size figure in terra-cotta on a pedestal festooned with ribbons and flowers in carved gilt bronze, all canopied by a shell-topped niche, through glass doors with frames of chased bronze, into the lovely private dining-room, all in pale green and gold. Simple and dignified in mass, yet most rich in its carved and gilded details, it recalls the charm of the beautiful wood interiors of the Petit Trianon. Three large windows on Piccadilly light the room. Between them are two dressers with slabs of Fleur de Pecher marble supported on consoles of gilded wood. In the middle of the opposite wall a fireplace with a mantel in pink ci pollino marble with gilt-bronze ornamentation gives a homelike character to the whole. Above is a Louis XVI. mirror, on either side of which is a richly carved panel with an oval gilt lattice grille above and a rectangular grille below, both supplying fresh air. Similar but smaller inlets are found in the upper part of the window-jambs. Two glass doors and a mirror framed in chased bronze, together with two dressers, complete the treatment of the room. The ceiling is plain, with two splendid chandeliers of bronze with glass pendants, which with the softer glow of the bracket-lamps most effectively light the room at night.

    We leave the private dining-room, cross the hall, and descend past the lower ground floor to the basement, to find ourselves in a large hall all in white. It is the banqueting-hall, capable of seating siz hundred people. A raised stage at one end makes a charming place for a concert or for private theatricals, while the polished oak floor makes it suitable for private dances. Exquisitely carved motives of roses, laurel, and musical intruments give play to the ivory white of the wood and plaster paneling. The ceiling is an ellipse, framing soft-tinted clouds. As it is meant to be seen only by artificial light, a special feature is made of the brilliancy of the glass chandeliers and the bracket-lights reflected on all sides in plate-glass mirrors. Ventilation is amply provided by the many grilled openings in the ceiling and in the sofflits. The one relieving note of color is in the masses of bright flowers and plants grouped at many points about the room.

    Leading from this at the end opposite the stage, a descent of three steps brings us to the long dining-gallery and Grill Room beyond. This, like the banqueting-gallery, is all in ivory white, a sense of openness being given by the great mirrors filling the whole wall on either side. The lighting, the ventilating, and the decoration are all similar to that in the hall, but a soft carpet takes away the hardness of the other room.

    Taking an elevator to the second floor, we enter one of the manly suites facing on Piccadilly. We go directly from the hall into a large antechamber from which open five doors. The door to the right permits of communication with the neighboring suite if the two are taken together; that immediately opposite opens into a generous sittingroom; the door at the side, into an even larger bedroom with its fireplace. The door in the left-hand wall enters a water-closet, while the door on the same side as that by which we entered gives access to a large bathroom and lavatory. On the six floors there are one hundred and fifty chambers and salons and some seventy five bathrooms, all arranged so that the rooms may be taken singly or in suites as small or as large as desired. The antechambers, the sitting-rooms, and the bedrooms are all painted and paneled in white, very simple in treatment, relieved only by the large mirrors over the mantels, bits of carving here and there, and the gilt-bronze lamp-brackets placed where they will be most effective. The only color is in the mantels, which are of rich and rare marbles changing from room to room, in the hangings, and in the beautiful pale green and rose Persian carpets. The furniture and ornaments, even to the fire-tongs and coal-scuttle, are all in perfect harmony with the general treatment of the rooms, so that we have all the beauties of the Petit Trianon plus what that seriously lacks: the comforts of modern life. One of these comforts that we should note in passing is the ingenious arrangement of cheval glasses in the doors of the wardrobes at the back of the rooms. The bathrooms, many of them eleven or twelve feet square, are covered with a white vitreous tile with a frieze and baseboard of grass green in very simple patterns. The fixtures are of white glazed fire-clay with fittings like those at Versailles. Lever-handles especially designed for the narrow stiled doors are used everywhere. It is hard to imagine rooms in better taste or more satisfying than these, and at the same time they are convenient enough and elegant enough to please the most exacting.

    Everywhere throughout the hotel we appreciate that we are in the presence of the work of a man who understands the best in the art of Louis XVI.; who has not absorbed it passively, but who has known how to mold it and apply it to the many varying modern needs without losing any of its subtle charm. The harmony of the building throughout, even down to the least detail of the furnishing, is in itself worthy of study.

    Before leaving the hotel it might be interesting to see a little of the services which make it so agreeable a place for a sojourn. In the lower ground floor, behind the steam-heated serving-table fifty feet long, is the kitchen, with its central roasting-range, its two large central cooking-ranges, and its side range, all covered with tiled canopies, its steam vegetable-cooker, its steam boiling-pans for soup, its double charcoal grill, its two salamanders, its stock-pot stands, its eleven steaming-closets, its thirteen hot closets in the serving-rooms, its gas boiling-table, its gas toasters, its central gas range, its gas grillers, etc. On the opposite side of the serving corridor are the cutlery-room, the glass-room, the china-room, the silver and plate room, and then the day-cellar, the hors d'œuvres room with its cold cupboards, the larder entrance with the general larder and butcher-shop behind, the still-room with its gas boiling-tables, its toaster, its automatic egg-boiler, et cetera, the kitchen stores, and last the bakery and pastry room, with specially designed ovens, concentric burners for sweets, et cetera.

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    On the floor below is the staff kitchen, with the dining-rooms for the clerical staff, the couriers, the porters, the valets, the waiters, and the workmen.

    Beyond are the dressing-rooms, the workshop, the Linde air-cooler, the pumps and tanks, the ice-making and cold storage plant, the fan-room, and the boiler-room. Under the street and under the park are the wine-cellars and the vaults. Every part is clean and well ventilated, as is fitting in a hotel of this sort.

    Certain general data are of interest.

    The architects, of whom we have already spoken, were Méwes and Davis; the general contractors were the Waring White Construction Company; the decorators were Waring & Gillow, to whom a great deal of credit is due for the excellent working out of the details. The Piccadilly frontage is 231 feet; that on Arlington Street is 115 feet; that on Green Park is 87 feet. The lot area is 23,200 square feet. The area of the ground floor is 22,000 square feet. The area of a chamber floor is 19,000 square feet. The ground floor is one foot, six inches above Piccadilly. The basement is twenty-two feet, seven and one-half inches lower. The first floor is nineteen feet, six inches above the ground floor; the next two stories are twelve feet high; the next two, eleven feet, eight inches; the next is eleven feet, two inches; the next, ten feet, four inches; and the servants’ floor, nine feet, eight inches to the top of the fiat roof. The cubic contents are 2,413,000 cubic feet. There are two electrically controlled passenger-elevators, one waiters’ passenger-elevator, one baggage-elevator, three hydraulic merchandise-elevators, and five push-button electrically controlled dumb-waiters with electric floor-position indicators. To care for the water there are two force-pumps capable of handling 80,000 gallons in twelve hours; 6,000 gallons of boiling water can be provided per hour. Vacuum main connections and fire-hydrants are provided everywhere.

    The ventilation is by the Plenum and Vacuum system. A large fan supplies 1,000,000 cubic feet of air per hour. This air passes through a water-curtain to rid it of part of its impurities, and then through a linen screen to free it from the rest. It then passes over steam-coils, after which, by a series of dampers and valves, the temperature and humidity are regulated as required in the individual rooms. In summer the air is cooled by a spraying-apparatus. The vitiated air is removed by fans capable of caring for 3,500,000 cubic feet per hour. In the rooms there is no draught nor is the slightest sound of the fans audible. The temperature of each room can be controlled from the room itself by an indicator. Two Economic boilers 12 ft. 6 ins. x 6 ft. 6 ins., with fifty smoke-tubes, supply the power and steam. As to construction, the building is unique in London as being the first complete steel skeleton building erected there; and further, it is the most comprehensive example of American methods carried out on a large scale in all England. The steel grillage foundations embedded in concrete are also an innovation, a concrete raft usually being employed under similar conditions. Against the party-wall cantilever foundations were used, again for the first time in EngIand. Even the big American derrick, with its 360-degree swing, caused the English contractors to open their eyes to new possibilities in construction. The floors and roofs are of the Columbian system of reen forced concrete, double construction so as to be sound-proof and to allow space between the floors for pipes and wires and the heating and ventilation ducts. The exterior stone walls with their brick backing had, unfortunately, according to the London building-laws, to be thirty-nine inches thick at the street-level. The partitions are of hollow, porous terra-cotta blocks twelve inches square and for the most part three inches thick. On these is used Selenitic plaster finished with Keene's cement. All glazing giving on interior courts is fire-resisting. A feature of the framing is the three trusses, one story deep, to take the columns which come over the middle of the restaurant. It is most flattering to America to see the interest which the English constructional magazines took in following the erection of this building step by step, and the eagerness with which they recommended many of its features to the English brethren. Undoubtedly American methods, now introduced, will incease largely, necessitating changes in local building-laws, and being themselves modified.

    In another part of England, another American quality, speed, was recently exhibited in the construction of a large electric plant in a manufacturing city. The English contractors figured that from four to five years would be necessary to complete these buildings. A New York builder, accustomed to building in a city where slowness means loss of thousands of dollars of rent, undertook to do the work, in a satisfactory manner, in less than a year.

    He simply introduced American methods throughout, including the labor-saving devices which the well-known mechanical genius of the Yankee has produced. From the beginning he followed the method of paying larger wages than those demanded by the unions. On the other hand, he resolutely barred out the walking delegate, having the premises patrolled to keep out these most unwelcome visitors. The workmen thus became desirous of keeping their well-paid jobs, and on that account did more and better work.

    In place of the slow and laborious method of taking materials up by hand, he introduced material- elevators; instead of the man with the hoe, he used cement-mixers, thus getting a result which was better and more quickly prepared.

    But perhaps his greatest innovation, causing the natives to open their eyes, was his method of getting material. Instead of ordering steel, cement, and other things by mail, he used the telegraph; and when the goods were not forthcoming with despatch, he went after them. To carry out this part of the work, he had a number of men whom he had brought from America to follow up on each order, and see that is was promptly shipped; or, if not, to find out the reason. The application of speed to all details of the work, in short, resulted in its completion within the year, to the astonishment of a part of the world where work is sometimes refused if it must be done "right away."

    The Architectural Review
    Volume XiV
    May, 1907
    Number 5
    The Ritz Hotel, London 1907
    Bu George B. Ford
    Copyright, 1907
    Bates, Kimball & Guild
  • Ritz2

    The Ritz Hotel is located in the City of Westminster, 150 Piccadilly, London, United Kingdom

    Opening: 1906

    Owner: Ellerman Group

    Architects: Charles Mewès & Arthur Davis

    Developer: César Ritz

    Number of rooms: 111

    Number of suites: 23

    Number of restaurants: 3

    The Ritz, London is a symbol of high society and luxury, the hotel is one of the world's most prestigious and best known hotels. The hotel was opened by Swiss hotelier César Ritz in May 1906, eight years after he established the Hôtel Ritz Paris.

    The exterior is both structurally and visually Franco-American in style with little trace of English architecture, and is heavily influenced by the architectural traditions of Paris. The facade on the Piccadilly side is roughly 231 feet (70 m), 115 feet (35 m) on the Arlington Street side, and 87 feet (27 m) on the Green Park side. At the corners of the pavilion roofs of the Ritz are large green copper lions, the emblem of the hotel.

    The interior was designed mainly by London and Paris based designers in the Louis XVI. style, which is consistent throughout. The Ritz's most widely known facility is the Palm Court, which hosts the famous "Tea at the Ritz". It is an opulently decorated cream-colored Louis XVI. setting, with panelled mirrors in gilt bronze frames. The hotel has six private dining rooms, the Marie Antoinette Suite, with its boiserie, and the rooms within the William Kent House (Wimborne House)

    Swiss hotelier César Ritz, the former manager of the Savoy Hotel, opened the hotel on 24 May 1906. It was built on the site which had been the Old White Horse Cellar, which by 1805 was one of the best known coaching inns in England. The financial backers of the Ritz felt that they had secured one of the prime sites in London for their project. They began negotiations in 1901, and completed the transactions for the simultaneous purchase of the leasehold for the Walsingham House Hotel and the adjacent freehold estate of the Bath Hotel for £250,000 in 1902. Demolition of both of the hotels began in 1904.

    The building is neoclassical in the Louis XVI. manner, built during the Belle Époque to resemble a stylish Parisian block of flats, over arcades that consciously evoked the Rue de Rivoli. Its architects were Charles Mewès, who had previously designed Ritz's Hôtel Ritz Paris, and Arthur Davis, with engineering collaboration by the Swedish engineer Sven Bylander. It was one of the earliest substantial steel frame structures in London, the Savoy Hotel extension of 1903-04 being the first in the capital. Many of the materials used in the construction of the hotel were US-made. The initial fees for suites ranged from 1½ guineas to 3½ guineas. After opening, a long-running feud between the hotel and Lord Wimbourne, a steel magnate who lived next door at Wimbourne House (William Kent House) lasted for years in a dispute over land. A number of locals were also concerned about the building and the impact it would have on their health.

    While the Ritz was still under construction, a series of events highlighted the need for another luxury hotel in London. A 3 June 1905 Daily Mail news story reported it was both Derby Week and the height of the tourist season, making hotel accommodation almost impossible to find. The Savoy had to refuse reservations, while Buckingham Palace turned offices into makeshift hotel rooms for visitors. An estimated 2,500 more persons needing rooms were expected shortly with the coming visit of the King of Spain. Though the opening of the Savoy had brought about a marked change in how hotels provided services to its guests, Ritz was determined that his London hotel would surpass its competitor in their delivery. The Ritz installed two large lead-lined tanks on its roof to provide a steady stream of hot and cold water. The hotel's bathrooms were all spacious with each having its own heated towel bar.

    suite 006Mouseover Enlarges

    Every bedroom in the hotel was provided with its own working fireplace. Ritz shunned free-standing wardrobes due to his fear of dust settling on them; instead he built cupboards into the rooms with doors matching the panelling. Ritz's ideas of cleanliness and hygiene prompted him to originally have all bedrooms painted in white and all beds made of brass, not wood, for the same reasons. Anything new or potentially useful was available to the guests of the Ritz.

    César Ritz's health had declined after his 1902 collapse at the Carlton, but he was feeling well enough to assume an active role in the plans for the hotel's opening dinner on 24 May 1906.

    Unlike the opening of the Paris Ritz, which had catered to society, most of those invited to the Ritz, London opening were members of the national and international press. Major British newspapers such as the Daily Mail, the Daily Mirror and The Daily Telegraph were invited to the dinner along with newspapers which included the Berliner Tageblatt, The Sydney Morning Herald and The New York Times. Ritz's guest list also included the engineer and architects of the structure along with key staff members of the new hotel and their wives.

    The hotel was not immensely profitable in its opening years; smaller than many of the new hotels springing up in that period, it was not fashionable initially, and was resented by many of the London elite who considered it vulgar. It took £3628 in 1908, over a thousand pounds less than the previous year, and the hotel lost over £50,000 between 15 May 1906 and 31 July 1908, which led to the replacement of Elles with manager with Theodore Kroell and appointment of Charles Van Gyzelen as manager of the restaurant. The hotel also suffered a blow upon the death of King Edward in 1910, when 38 planned dinners and functions were cancelled, but began to prosper the following year, made fashionable by the Prince of Wales who regularly dined here. King Edward was particularly fond of the cakes made at the Ritz. The hotel would regularly send him a supply, but this was kept in confidence as the King's chef may not have wanted it known that food he did not prepare was served at Buckingham Palace. Ritz retained control of much of the hotel's operation for many years.

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    He hired world-famous chef Auguste Escoffier to provide cuisine to match the opulence of the hotel's decorations; he placed a special bell in the entryway by which the doorman could notify the staff of the impending arrival of royalty.

    By 1929 the hotel was still being praised for its architecture; Professor Charles Reilly wrote about the Ritz in Building magazine in 1929, calling it the "finest modern structure" in the street, with "an elegance of general form".

    On 4 August 1914, Lady Diana's future husband, Duff Cooper, then a Foreign Office official, dined at the Ritz with the Earl of Essex and his American wife, Adele Capell (née Grant) and Patrick Shaw-Stewart, and later that day announced that World War I had broken out to the party. Before the war began, the German and Austrian embassies both retained tables at the Ritz Restaurant. The hotel suffered during the war, and lost nearly £50,000 in 1915 alone; the ballroom was usually empty and lights went out by 10 pm, but rooms were still in demand and the hoteliers believed it to be worth keeping open. Socialites such as Lady Cynthia Asquith, daughter-in-law of H. H. Asquith and Lord Basil Blackwood were documented in her diaries to have dined at the Ritz in the spring of 1916. The following year, she held a lavish dinner party with the likes of Osbert Sitwell, Gilbert Russell and Maud Nelke and Clare Tennant. In September 1917, a shell exploded in Green Park in close proximity to the Ritz, and according to Lord Ivor Churchill it broke all of the windows to adjacent Wimbourne House. The Duke of Marlborough recorded dining at the Ritz; "I lunched at the Ritz. The whole social world goes there, prices being cheap. All women there from M. Paget to the latest tart."

    In 1921, Bonvin, the manager of the Ritz, died, and was replaced with J.S. Walters. Walter was a "tireless salesman" in promoting the hotel, especially in mainland Europe, and flaunted the hotel in the Tatler at a time when it was unpopular to do so. Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma frequented the Ritz from his time as a Sub-Lieutenant onwards, and when his friend Charlie Chaplin arrived in London in September 1921 after a nine-year absence, great crowds gathered at Waterloo station and Chaplin had to be ushered to the hotel by some 40 policemen. He stayed in the first-floor Regal Suite and was photographed throwing carnations to his fans from the Arlington Street balcony. The Ritz became popular with film stars and executives when staying in London, although the hotel has kept most of the names of many of its luminaries a secret in its records. Douglas Fairbanks was known though to frequent the Ritz in the 1920s, and director Alexander Korda's talent scout held a table at the Ritz in the 1930s. Noël Coward, also a regular diner at the Ritz in the 1920s and 1930s, met with Michael Arlen in the restaurant in 1924 to discuss the urgent problem of generating the funding for his new play, The Vortex. Arlen gave Coward a cheque for $250 without question, and The Vortex would go on to be his first major success. Coward's song, "Children of the Ritz", which featured in the 1932 revue Words and Music was penned while Coward was lunching in the Ritz with Beverley Nichols. Numerous authors began to meet at the Ritz during the same period, and it began to creep into literature itself. In Michael Arlen's 1922 novel Piracy, the hotel was described as a "very stout and solid building in the manner of the old Bastille, originally conceived no doubt with a fearful eye on class prejudice", and R. Firbank had a running gag in his novels about there being "fleas in the Ritz". Later, the hotel appears in Anthony Powell's "A Dance to the Music of Time." The narrator Nicholas Jenkins meets poet Mark Members at the Ritz, and the golden nymph in the Palm Court of the hotel is mentioned. The future Edward VIII, a regular at the hotel in the 1930s, where he honed his dancing skills.

    "It had a special atmosphere about it and the Palm Court was always filled before luncheon with "society beauties", debutantes and their boyfriends, and famous actors and actresses -- though the latter seldom seemed to actually lunch there. Bejewelled American ladies used to parade up and down the corridor awaiting their guests, The Ritz was more like a club than a hotel; you were bound to see your friends there. To "meet at the Ritz" was the obvious choice. It had the combination of elegance and cosiness. The Ritz had an essentially happy atmosphere which radiated from the staff. All the waiters knew everybody and became personal friends. The Ritz in those days had a courtesy and elegance unlike any other hotels; it was thought of as "home" in a sense that never applied to anywhere else".

    William Brownlow, 3rd Baron Lurgan, who succeeded Harry Higgins as chairman of the Ritz upon his death in 1928, was especially keen on attracting American guests to the hotel. He was a close friend of the Earl of Carnavon and his American wife Catherine Wendell, and at times the couple were freely given the entire second floor of the hotel to accommodate guests. Upon the death of Lord Lurgan in 1937, Carnavon was told that he had to begin paying for his staying at the hotel, but was given a "slight reduction for old time's sake". Carnarvon later remarked: "The Ritz has been my London home for over fifty years. I'm very fond of the place. Nobody knows it better". In 1931, the Aga Khan was involved with organising the Round Table Conference at the hotel, which was attended by Mahatma Gandhi and many others. One one occasion Khan took over the Palm Court to hold a meeting with his followers. In the 1930s, Aletto became the restaurant manager of the Ritz, a "popular and much-mimicked character" according to Montgomery-Massingberd and Watkin. The future Edward VIII. and his associates were often seen at the Ritz in the 1930s. In 1932 the Evening Standard observed the Prince performing on the dance floor: "The Prince of Wales never misses an opportunity to raise the stand of his dancing. He danced three tangoes each of which lasted about thirty-five minutes!" In 1934, Edward's brother, the Duke of Kent, married Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark at the Ritz and scaffolding was put up in the garden for the celebration. The Queen Mother would also attend private parties at the Ritz during this period, as did King Boris of Bulgaria and Queen Marie of Romania. At one point, the Ritz hosted four reigning monarchs simultaneously: King Boris, King Farouk of Egypt, Spain's King Alfonso and Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. After the romance of Edward VIII. and Wallis Simpson became public knowledge, both parties could be found at separate tables near the restaurant's door, in case a speedy exit was necessary.

    The Ritz suffered from the effects of the General Strike of 1926, subsequently seeing competition from the likes of the Dorchester Hotel and Grosvenor House. The Great Depression brought a sharp decline in business to the hotel, and in the summer of 1931 staff wages were reduced -- the chefs, kitchen workers and the directors had a 25% cut in their wages. To increase earnings, in 1935 Fred Cavendish-Bentinck recommended that the hotel commence putting on a Cabaret show. Advertised in the Evening Standard, the programme was an immediate success. In January 1936, Austrian comedian Vic Oliver was one of the entertainers hired to perform at the hotel for two weeks, and Cyril Fletcher appeared in the show for a month the following year. The BBC began broadcasting live performances from the restaurant of the hotel, with pianist Billy Milton and others. It was through the show that the Irving Berlin song "Putting on the Ritz" grew in popularity, performed by Joe Kaye's Dance Band.


    This is Carl Webster's Collegians, recorded 1930

    Puttin' On The Ritz 1930
    Alt : (Or choose your player)

    In 1937, James Stephens shortly succeeded Lurgan as director of the Ritz before being replaced by Hans Pfyffer von Altishofen, who had been on the board of the Ritz Hotel Development Company from 1910 and was also the chairman of the Paris Ritz.

    Authors Montgomery-Massingberd and Watkin describe the Ritz as "the product of one of those near miraculous convergences of civilised patron and architects and craftsmen of genius working together in complete harmony both with each other and with the social and architectural fashions of the day. The building has been regarded as a masterpiece from the day it was finished..."

    Both of the architects, Charles Mewès and Arthur J. Davis, were educated at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, and the education which they received is clear in the design of the buildings, particularly the Renaissance influence, delivering "an authentic fabric of traditional French classicism". Mewès had previously designed the Hotel Ritz of Paris for Cesar in 1897-98, after which he met Arthur Davis, and began working together preparing designs for the Grand Petit Palais in the Paris Exhibition of 1900. Both architects worked on the plans for the London Ritz in 1904-05. According to Montgomery-Massingberd and Watkin the exterior is both structurally and visually Franco-American in influence with little trace of English architecture. For them the exterior "represents an evocative confluence of various Parisian architectural traditions"; the Piccadilly arcade echoes the arcaded ground floor in the Place Vendrome and the Rue de Rivoli, the steep mansarded skyline on the Green Park facade echoes Hector Lefuel's work on the Pavillon de Flore of the Louvre, while the tall windows and wall panels of the facades resemble those of Mewès's earlier work on a smaller building made as a home for Jules Ferry on Rue Bayard.

    Excavation for the hotel began by contractors Waring White Building Co. Ltd. in June 1904, and it was completed by 1 October 1905, and opened the following May. The building progress was documented each month by The Builder's Journal and Architectural Engineer, and in one edition noted the difficulties of some of the aspects of construction such as hoisting 20-ton 39 feet (12 m) steel joists in a narrow building site. The Architect and Contract Reporter noted that the limited space did not allow for the storage of materials on site. All mortar had to be mixed in the basement and the stone was dressed "on a platform with a watertight roof over the footway". The red-brick foundations of the earlier Walsingham House had to be blasted away to facilitate the foundations of the steel structure in concrete. The total estimated cost was £345,227. 8s. 1d., with £102,000 going to Messrs Waring and Gillow, £49,000 to French decorators and over £15,000 to the English decorators. John P. Bishop and the Swedish-born Sven Bylander were consultant engineers during the building phase.

    The facade on the Piccadilly side is roughly 231 feet (70 m), 115 feet (35 m) on the Arlington Street side, and 87 feet (27 m) on the Green Park side. The irregularity of the site presented initial problems for the builders. Davis dealt with this by "brilliant perspective effects" according to Binney, using curving walls to "cleverly conceal the rapidly diminishing space at the back of the hotel". The purpose of the arcaded front was to provide more space for the bedrooms above. Expensive Norwegian granite is the material on ground floor, with Portland stone above it. The steel frame of the building was made in Germany and is based on a model made in the early 1880s in Chicago to increase fire resistance. It was erected by Messrs Potts & Co. of Oxford Street. Fireproofing of the walls were conducted by the Columbian Fireproofing Company Ltd. of Pittsburgh and London, with steel-ribbed bars allowing for ventilation, while remaining sound proof and free from vibration. The internal walls consist of "hollow, porous, terra-cotta blocks" covered with plaster, and the hotel's flooring was also made fireproof. At the corners of the pavilion roofs of the Ritz are large green copper lions, the emblem of the hotel.

    The hotel was designed mainly by London and Paris based designers in the Louis XVI. style, which is consistent throughout, giving the hotel its "special atmosphere of perfect appropriateness and elegant restraint". Marcus Binney describes the great suite of ground-floor rooms as "one of the all-time masterpieces of hotel architecture" and compares it to a royal palace with its "grand vistas, lofty proportions and sparkling chandeliers". Waring & Gallow were responsible for many of the fine design work of the interiors The ground floor plan dated to 1906 illustrated a large main restaurant overlooking the terrace and garden, a large central Grand Gallery and Winter Garden, a circular vestibule beyond the reception room, the Marie Antoinette Suite near the restaurant, and numerous shops. The Grill Room had its own entrance on the right side of the entrance doors on Piccadilly, with a staircase leading down. The Grill Room was on the eastern side, and the Banqueting Hall lay at the western end, beneath the restaurant. Today this is home to the Ritz Club. A wide vaulted corridor, the Long Gallery, runs from the Arlington Street entrance on the east side to the restaurant on the west side, with finely woven Savonnerie carpets. Along it are several intricate horseshoe archways. A triangular-shaped staircase features in the building's southwest corner. The curving main staircase was built to allow women to make a "dramatic entrance and show off their gowns to best effect".

    The Ritz's most widely known facility is the Palm Court, an opulently decorated cream-coloured Louis XVI. setting. It is decorated with lavish furnishings, including gilded Louis XVI. armchairs with oval backs, which the architects had designed based on research into French neo-classical furniture design of the 1760s and 1770s, which were made by Waring and Gillow. The room, with its, "panelled mirrors of bevelled glass in gilt bronze frames and "high coving ornamented with gilded trellis-work", according to Montgomery-Massingberd and Watkin "epitomizes the elegantly frivolous comfort of Edwardian high life". There were originally large windows at either end of the court, then known as the Winter Garden, and were replaced with twenty panels of mirrors after 1972. The fountain of the court, known as "La Source", is made of Echaillon marble and is extravagantly sculpted. A nymph, gold in colour, is featured in a lair. A wrought-iron and glass roof of the Palm Court contains two gilded wrought-iron lanterns, and the ceiling contains lion skin motifs. The room is done in soft apricot and has remained so since 1906. César Ritz chose the colour to flatter the complexions of women after weeks of experimentation with various hues. The Palm Court is the setting for the world-famous institution that is "Tea at the Ritz", once frequented by King Edward VII, Sir Winston Churchill, Noël Edmonds, Judy Garland, Evelyn Waugh and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. It acquired its reputation as "the place for tea" in London after World War I. In the 1920s a small orchestra would play regularly on the court. Between the Winter Garden and the central Grand Gallery is a screen featuring two Ionic columns.

    The hotel has six private dining rooms, the Marie Antoinette Suite, with its boiserie, and the rooms within the William Kent House (Wimborne House). Marcus Binney states that the restaurant is "not only one of the most beautiful interiors in London, it can be claimed as the most beautiful restaurant in the world". César Ritz once commented that the room was so heavily designed in bronze that it was fortunate that the hotel was built from steel, or the "walls would collapse with the weight of all that bronze". Flanking the entrance to the main restaurant are two life-sized figures set in "bronze vert after Clodion, holding gilded bronze lustres with six lights each, mounted on pedestals of polished Echaillon marble ornamented with bronze". The restaurant and adjacent guest room were designed by P. H. Remon and Sons of Paris. The ceiling is a described by Montgomery-Massingberd and Watkin as a "painted trompe-l'oeil ceiling on which pinkish clouds drift across the blue sky encircled by a garlanded balustrade". Bronze chandeliers are also a feature, influenced by an 18th-century Augustin de Saint-Aubin engraving known as "Le Bal Pare et Masque", and "Le Festin by Moreau le Jeune", which was given by the City of Paris to the King and Queen on 21 January 1782. On the northern end against the Piccadilly arcade are floor-to-ceiling mirrors, divided into panes, which give the room a spacious effect, especially when the lights are on all day during the winter. At the south end of the restaurant is a watercolour by Davis and gilded figures known as "The Thames and the Ocean", with a buffet made from Norwegian pink marble below it, believed to be inspired by Louis Seize's "Buffet of Mansart".

    From its inception, the kitchen was run mainly by French chefs, and it had a specialist in Russian soups and Viennese pastry; it cakes became so famous that King Edward made regular orders from Buckingham Palace. M. Malley, who had been saucier at the Paris Ritz was appointed Chef des Cuisines, and invented dishes such as Saumon Marquise de Sevignre (Salmon with a crayfish mousse), Filet de Sole Romanoff (served with mussels, small slices of apple and artichokes), and Poulet en Chaudfroid (chicken accompanied by a curry-flavoured pinkish mousse) at the hotel. The Ritz is renowned for its supreme catering services. A table at the restaurant still needs to be booked weeks in advance. The lounge was decorated by Marcel Boulanger in the Louis VIV. style, the clubroom was by Lenygon and Morant, who were influenced by the Palladian design of Cumberland House in Brettingham, and other rooms were decorated with clear William Chambers and Robert Adam influences. Meals can be served on Nanking china in the Trafalgar Suite.

    The Marie Antoinette Suite is accessed from the main restaurant. According to Marcus Binney "the gilded detail of the room has the lustre and crispness of gilt bronze, even the egg-and-dart in the boldly modelled cornice". Floral motifs are a common feature of the room, given the namesnake, Marie Antionette, and represents the flowers at one of her feasts. Over the overmantel is a basket of flowers, with "flowers spilling out over the frames of the oval lunettes". In the small entrance lobby of the suite are two terracotta statues of Spring and Summer, with "drum-shaped pedestals ornamented with gilt-bronze flowers and ribbons". The ventilation grilles, of considerable size, are decorated in bronzed lattice. On the walls are a series lamp holders held by miniature Apollo lyres, with each bulb holder containing around 25 leaves opened out. The lights, according to Binney, are hung on "cords from ribbons tied in bows, entwined at intervals with flowers, descending to a cluster of tassels". The panels of the walls are treated like picture frames, with inner and outer mouldings, in contrast to the window frames and the wall mirrors which are surrounded by "clusters of reeds, with an inset behind which a curtain could hang without obscuring the moulding", according to Binney.

    William Kent House, also known as Wimbourne House, was opened as an extension of The Ritz. The house has been converted into a complete function area with the Music Room, the Burlington Room, the Queen Elizabeth Room and the William Kent room. It also accommodates three of The Ritz' top suites: The Arlington Suite, the Royal Suite as well as the Prince of Wales Suite. Several of the rooms have Louis XVI. chimneypieces. The Grade II building was carefully restored and given a modern touch.

    The Ritz Club is a casino in the basement of the hotel, occupying the space which was formerly the Ritz Bar and Grill. In the original structure, this was where the Ritz ballroom was located. A May 1906 edition of Truth magazine described the basement with the Grill Room and Banqueting Hall as palatial, ivory-white in decor, with "mirrors on all the walls reflecting an endless intersection of arched ceilings". The rooms were used for dinners, balls and theatrical shows, with a stage at the south end of the Banqueting Hall. By the mid 1920s the Grill Room had been relocated into the Banqueting Hall, and furnished with circular tables with oval back wicker chairs. One 1926 brochure stated that it was the scene of "some of the finest private and public balls ever given in London". The club's chandeliers were made out of various types of empty liquor bottles with candles in their necks for light. The dance floor was crowded during wartime, but it later declined in popularity.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    The Ritz Hotel, London, is just being completed. Its chief interest, so far as readers of Fireproof Magazine are concerned, lies in the fact that it is the first large contract taken by an English company organized to use American methods in building.

    The contracting firm is the Waring-White Building Company, Ltd., which is an English organization, Mr. Waring, from whom the name is partly derived, being the owner of a large department store in London. A licensed architect of the state of Illinois, however, Mr. Reuben A. Denell, who was formerly with D. H. Burnham & Co. of Chicago, is in the employ of this company and his influence insures the continuance of American methods of construction, so successfully inaugurated in the execution of this firs large contract.

    The architects are Messrs. Mewes and Davis and John P. Bishop of 25 Dover street, London, W., and the consulting engineers are M. A. Potts & Co., also of London.

    The hotel is located at the corner of Piccadilly and Arlington street, having its main frontage in Piccadilly and occupying the site between Green Park and Arlington street. Its length along Piccadilly is 231 feet 4½ inches, its depth along Arlington street is 115 feet 2¼ inches and along Green Park 87 feet 1⅛ inches. The area of the ground floor is about 22,000 square feet and the building is eight stories high above the basement. It is a modern steel frame structure and the construction practically conforms to the latest standards for steel frame ofiice buildings in America. The steel was manufactured and fabricated by German mills. All the partitions are of hollow tile of American manufacture.

    The walls are in accordance with the London Building Act, being 39 inches thick at the street level and 14 inches at the seventh floor level. They are of brick faced with granite up to the second floor and with stone above that point.

    Basement floor level is 22 feet 7½ inches below ground floor, and the piers on which the columns rest stand in pockets excavated in clay to a depth of about 5 feet 6 inches, thus making the total depth of excavation for the foundations about 28 feet.

    The concrete footings are 18 inches thick and upon these rest the steel grillages which average about 12 feet square and which are composed of two tiers of I-beams with cast-iron separators. The spaces between the beams in both tiers are filled solidly with concrete.

    The writer understands that in figuring the sizes of the footings the calculations were based upon the dead loads somewhat after the manner described by Mr. W. I. Parry in the May number of this Magazine, thereby insuring uniform settlement.

    An interesting feature of the foundation work is the manner of supporting the wall columns adjacent to Lord Winborne’s house. In order to keep the grillages inside the building line and to prevent undermining the adjoining property, these columns had to be supported on cantilever girders, the heaviest of which weighs approximately 11 tons. There are nine of these girders averaging 3 feet deep, each composed of three web plates 6 inch by 6 inch flange angles and a number of cover plates 2 feet 6 inches wide. Some of them are shown in position in the photograph taken Oct. 24, 1904. This picture also shows the generous depth of the excavation for the foundations.

    All of the columns rest upon cast-iron bases about 3 feet square with top and bottom plates and ventical ribs. The bases were carefully leveled on top of the grillages by the use of iron wedges, and after having been enclosed by clay dams the space of about three-fourths of an inch between the base and the grillage beams was filled in with cement grouting through holes in the cast-iron bases.

    The columns are of the closed channel type, composed of two 12-inch channels and flange plates 14 inches wide, except in the upper tiers, where the loads become light enough to permit the use of latticed channels. The outside dimensions have been kept practically constant, variation in cross section having been obtained by varying the thickness of metal. In a few cases where very heavy loads had to be carried the webs of the channels were reinforced by plates. The columns are all in two-story lengths and are spliced about 1 foot 6 inches above the floor level, the sections being changed at each splice in the usual manner to correspond with the loads to be carried. Both ends of the columns are milled and in the splice is inserted a cap plate or horizontal diaphragm of exact dimensions. The upper and lower sections are securely united by vertical splice plates. The beam connections are of the usual type; that is, with top and bottom angles shop-riveted to the columns, the shelf angles being supported by stiffeners where required. The photograph, taken Nov. 11, 1904, shows these typical column details. The view was taken looking towards Green Park.

    The beams throughout the entire structure, where practicable, are spaced 5 feet 6 inches, or less, apart.

    On the Piccadilly and Green Park fronts the roof slopes at an angle of 75 degrees, beginning at the seventh floor level and extending to flat roof level. On the Arlington street front it slopes at an angle of 45 degrees, beginning at the fifth floor level. This irregularity in the roof seemed to require, from an architectural standpoint, that the exterior walls of the higher parts of the building should be set back at the sixth and seventh floor levels in order to preserve the unity of the design.

    The result was a relatively complicated steel construction, the outside columns in these upper stories having to be supported on cross girders. It is evident that the weight of steel in the building was considerably increased by thus having to provide for these heavy concentrated loads on the cross girders.

    This unusual feature of the construction can be seen in the photograph taken March 20, as the sixth-story columns are clearly shown out of line with those below.

    The finished effect of the converging walls and the different heights of the two fronts is seen in the final photograph taken June 14 from the corner of Piccadilly and Arlington street.

    The very creditable time in which the hotel has been built, as evidenced by the dates of the photographs, has been the marvel of English builders. The growth of the steel frame and the subsequent rapid rise of the walls have been watched with great interest and augur well for the future of American methods in England.

    The Ritz Hotel, London, By J. C. C. Holding; Fireproof Magazine, Vol 7, October, 1905, No. 4.
    The Entire Contents of FIREPROOF MAGAZINE are Protected by Copyright. Published Monthly by FIREPROOF PUBLISHING COMPANY, Great Northern Building, Chicago. Entered as second-class matter September 8, 1905, at the Postoffice at Chicago, Illinois, under the Act of Congress of March 3, 1879.

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