The Ritz-Carlton in New York City is but one link in the great chain of the Ritz Hotels throughout Europe and America. An hotel serves the individual first, the community next. It is an integral factor in the lives of both. Its corner-stone is service. One finds the key-note of a community in its hotels. Good taste is a matter of environment. The taste of the Ritz-Carlton is that of its patrons. It gives only the best because the best is required of it. It is centrally located and is readily accessible to all that is desirable. The Ritz-Carlton is satisfying both from the more subtle artistic and from the distinctly utilitarian points of view. In its architecture it is simple and dignified: in its decoration it is splendid without being oppressive, and in its equipment it is comfortable without being ostentatious. It neither intrudes itself upon its guests nor does it invite intrusion. It has the atmosphere of a very perfect home, with something added. The comforts of a country house with the convenience of a residence in town these together make a perfect hotel.
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The Ritz-Carlton is an excellent example of the best in hotel architecture. The most subtle artistry has achieved a triumph in two of the most essential qualities -- fitness and simplicity. The hotel, with its three simple facades, is preeminently expressive of itself, and of its place in the community. The main entrance on Madison Avenue leads into a charmingly light and hospitable foyer which, on the left, runs through to another entrance on Forty-Slxth Street, near which are the telephones and the Flower Shop, and on the right into the executive rooms of the hotel. This foyer has been made purposely small in order to bring about a closer and more intimate relationship between the hotel and its guests, and also to obviate the congestion of casual passers-by which a large foyer so often entails. From the foyer, on the Forty-Slxth Street side, one passes directly into the Palm Room. Here a ceiling of glass set in ornamental bronze work spreads a soft and restful light all around. The room is colored in light pale green and cream, and along the side high lattices afford a place for long boxes bright with flowers. At one end of the room is a broad flight of steps leading to a small orchestra gallery, masked in exotic palms and flowers, which provides excellent music for two rooms at one time, this gallery being in reality a ktnd of neutral ground between the dining room and the palm room.
The main dining room, with its graceful pillars and soft draperies, is dignified in the restraint and beauty of its design.
The main dining room is beautifully oval shaped, and the soft curves and colors are well calculated to induce a pervading sense of well-being. The ceiling is of cream color decorated with medallions having a blue background and joined together with wreaths of unique design. The whole note of the room, as indeed of the entire hotel, is one of restraint and yet of beauty. It is in this room that one observes first the scheme of decoration which dominates the whole structure, namely the Adam Style, a type peculiarly well adapted to such usage in that it is formal without being in the least stiff, and charming without being obtrusive. In the dining room, as in many others, glass has been used very effectively to secure a decorative value. From the upper verandah of the japanese garden, through a small passage, one enters the Pall Mall Room decorated in rose, cream and gold, with its chintz-covered lanterns swung from the ceiling. The Grill Room is on the floor below and is reached by a staircase from the foyer. This room is carpeted in dull red, and derives its lighting from an indirect illumination emanating from the pillars which are in themselves a part of the decorative scheme.
From the right side of the Dining Room the guest passes into the Japanese Garden for luncheon or tea. The garden is laid out in the form of the letter A, the two legs and the top forming long loggias set with small tables, and connected by a central passage. Between the loggias is the garden itself, at one end of which is a great pagoda, and seated in front of it is Buddha smiling serenely. The loggias are latticed in bamboo with bamboo screens shading the tables, and in every possible manner proper native colors and tones are adhered to. Through the center of the garden a little stream gushes from the mouth of a grotesque mask on the base of the pedestal upon which Buddha is seated, and the banks of the stream are thick with tiny japanese villages, quite perfect in every detail. There are dwarf pines and firs interspersed with laurel and lilac. On one of the banks there is a picturesque pavilion which is reached by a typical little bridge from the farther side of the stream. The loggias, or verandahs, are illuminated with japanese lanterns in the evening, and at the farther end of the garden three great lights lend a softening effect to the whole scene, leading up to the terraced lights of the pagoda at the other end. A little way down the stream a great stone god Soliloquises over this miniature paradise of oriental beauty.
Looking through the dining room from the Palm Room one sees the great staircase leading to the grand ball-room above. From the lower floor the stair ascends in broad and easy rises to a landing level with the dining room, from whence it swings gracefully to right and left up to the ball-room floor, in a dignified and expressive sweep, and with a delicacy truly joyous in effect. The ball-room, itself, is lofty with a domed ceiling, walls of ivory white and hangings of golden yellow. In the center is a great crystal chandelier, and masked lights at the sides cast a soft glow over all. At one end is a stage which can be used either for theatricals, concerts, or for an orchestra for dancing, and at the other end of the room is a hanging balcony from which one may view the gay throng below. Here again great mirrors are used decoratively, and again they are used to great advantage. The floor is specially constructed, and is one of the most perfect of its kind.
Turning from the grand ball-room and descending the stairway to the lower floor the Crystal Room is entered from the side. The room is draped in heavy hangings and overhead is a great canopy drawn up in tented form, with great tassels of glass hanging from its folds, each concealing within its center a light which heightens the decorative effect of the whole. From the ball-room open other small rooms which may be used either for cards or for rest and gossip. From the balcony is reached a comfortable smoking room handsomely paneled in oak.
An advantage in favor of this unique roof garden is that it is not on the roof of the main hotel, but is situated on the third floor from the street above the Forty-Sixth Street addition, just far enough from the street to avoid hearing the distracting noise and bustle of the city, leaving you in this small realm of enchantment, amid summer breezes, and offering a place of rest and relaxation. Here may be enjoyed a variety of palatable dishes cooked to please the most fastidious taste, and served on tables hidden among the flowers. This is as enticing as a summer afternoon at Nice. The tented effect of the crystal room is repeated here, except that, in place of the darker hues used below, the canopy is in broad stripes of green and white reminding one of a tennis or cricket pavilion on a lawn. Rose-colored baskets of flowers hang from the canopy, and gently swing to and fro in the cool, stirring air. It is a charming place in which to rest and to hear music amid surroundings enhanced by delicately shaded lights and softly tinted shadows. After dinner the floor is cleared for dancing and frequent numbers are played by a fully equipped orchestra. This floor has been so constructed that few compare with its peculiar resiliency. Here, apparently suspended between sky and earth, one has the impression of being in a land of make-believe. To say the roof garden offers a restful and pleasing retreat sounds inadequate, but to place oneself amid its beauty, with its captivating decorative arrangement, affords one that feeling of satisfaction found only in the gardens of the old world.
Attention to the utmost detail is manifest from the kitchen to the State Suite on the topmost floor. Every room, whether guest, club or dining room, is as comfortable and inviting as forethought and ingenuity can make it. An effort has been made to anticipate every possible wish that a guest could have, that no one could ever say as did a King once long ago "I have nearly been kept waiting." The many private dining rooms of varying sizes are as attractive and as complete as the most captious host could wish. The club-rooms, and the several public rooms for ladies and gentlemen, are finished in themselves and in their many accessories. Nothing has been left to chance. The fundamental idea upon which the Ritz-Carlton is managed has been expressed by the manager, Mr. Albert Keller, in a very few words: "The best cooking we can possibly get, the best service we can possibly obtain, and the positive rule that guests must have personal attention always." and it is worthy of note that the Ritz-Carlton, with the thought of perfect service always in mind, not only chooses its employees with the utmost care and discrimination, but keeps them afterwards. They may be transferred to another hotel in the great chain, but they are not lost sight of, from the greatest to the least. They are taught how to serve. There are no beginners; they are all trained to be expert in their various tasks, and they are expected to keep up the standard so firmly maintained. In general construction, and in specific detail, in decoration, and in appurtenances, the one guiding thought of the designer, builder, and manager of the Ritz-Carlton hotel has been to serve the comfort of its guests.
Ritz idea; the story of a great hotel., by Lucius Beebe, (1902-1966).
Entered here for historical research non-commercial use.