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I have been staying at the Ritz for a number of years now, since I was a child and although I never get tired of it, it has gradually lost some of its shine, particularly in the restaurant.
Although we must have been going for at least 15 years, they still manage to make a mess of our booking every time. Somehow there is always some confusion at reception and when we have ordered things as presents they have often been snotty and not too helpful.
However the actual experience has not failed to impress yet. The hotel is situated on Piccadilly but the actual guest entrance is at the side of the hotel. When you enter it never fails to charm, and the doormen are always friendly and have offered coats to ladies if they are waiting outside. The main double doors are opened for you as you walk through the lounge area towards the restaurant. The Palm Court on the right is particularly beautiful when it is lit up and this is where afternoon tea is served.
Afternoon tea seems to have turned into a cattle market, which I think is a shame. With five seatings, it is no longer personal and you often see people queueing whilst the waiters hustle the previous sitting along.
The restaurant is always a culinary delight though. You cannot ask for the wrong thing and everything is prepared and presented beautifully. There is always a seasonal selection aswell as the standard set menu and grill, which is available year round. The dinner dances on the weekends involve a band and pianist and it is like going back in time.
The dress code still applies at the Ritz and unless a resident walking through, you cannot wear jeans, and men are required to wear shoes, jacket and tie in afternoon tea, lunch and dinner. It is good that they still maintain these standards where other establishments of the same league have relaxed them, but now and then you see a slip being ignored.
We usually take a suite as there are three of us and it is split into two bedrooms, one of which is turned into a sitting room during the day and we often get a view over Green Park, which is beautiful to wake up to and to see lit up in the evening. The service is always prompt and efficient although that is what you pay for so it is what you expect!
The hotel also has its own club casino, the bar (only open to residents later in the evening), and a spa, which are all quite expensive although the spa is the prices you would expect in this type of hotel.
If you want to go to the Ritz I recommend doing it properly, for the price of afternoon tea you can have a set lunch for just a little more and have a much more relaxed and value for money experience. Or even have a brunch or breakfast, which is always delicious and leisurely and there is no rush to finish as its not a slot like afternoon tea.
Ever since I knew what The Ritz was, I never once imagined myself going inside. Walking past, I always glanced inside to try and see what was happening inside, and what posh people I could see!
So when my friends 18th birthday came around and her family decided having her party in The Ritz would be suitable, I was very excited!
The Ritz London is literally a minute walk away from Green Park station, which is on the Jubilee Line. Not really remembering where it was, I was expecting the area to be a lot 'posher' than it is. It is literally right next to the train station, which surprised me a little. However, this doesn't take away from the lovely environment inside.
As a few of my friends and I arrived at The Ritz to meet the birthday girl, we all felt like we shouldn't be there. A bunch of 18 year olds standing in such an expensive hotel, although dressed appropriately, just didn't seem right.
As we walked in we were greeted by the doorman, who opened all the doors and smiled nicely at us, wishing us a good stay (although we didn't actually stay the night...). It was nice that he seemed to think we belonged there, even if we didn't!
We waved our invitations at the man in reception and he got another man (I think they're called concierge's?) to take us down to the 'private room' which was hired. As we sat down, he asked us if we wanted any drinks; champagne, orange juice, wine, water, tea etc, and brought it to us immediately. The tea was really nice, and you got sugar lumps instead of granular sugar to put in your tea, and it was real tea that had to be strained as well. The water was poured in front of you from a very posh bottle, although I don't know what brand it was, because I wasn't familiar with it. The white wine was wonderful, it was fairly dry, but it tasted expensive, and in a nice way!
As we were waiting for the others to arrive, and the birthday girl to come downstairs, they started bringing out canapés. After researching, I found out that per person, the canapés cost £45, as it is a 'Cocktail Reception Canapé'. This included a selection of hot and cold food including Smoked Salmon, King Prawns, Thai Chicken Samosa's, Skewered Chicken, Mushroom Truffles, and many more. There was also some sweet canapé's which were equally yummy, mostly with chocolate or strawberry contents.
The birthday itself included us getting changed, and having professional photographs taken, but this was not anything to do with The Ritz itself, as they just let us hire out the room.
After all the canapé's and drinks we could manage, it was time for afternoon tea. Birthday Afternoon Tea at The Ritz costs an astounding £58 per person. Considering what you actually get is quite simple, this is a ridiculous price. The food is very good though, and includes a selection of sandwiches which get refilled every time you think you've managed to eat them all, scones with cream and jam, and lots of delicious cakes, plus all the tea you could possibly drink! We also had birthday cake and champagne, because it was a birthday, although the normal Afternoon Tea costs £37 per person, with an extra £16 for a glass of champagne.
The service in The Ritz is incredible. Everyone is wonderfully polite and immaculately dressed. They never get snappy, no matter how many times you ask what canapé they're holding, and whether you can have more of this or that.
As you walk around The Ritz, the decor is beautiful. It's very difficult to describe, apart from saying 'expensive' because although everything looks amazing, it clashes! In one room you can have big mixtures of blue, yellow, red, orange, purple etc and although there are so many clashes, it's all so grand and on such a large scale that the strange mixes in colours aren't as weird as you might originally think. Despite this, all the interiors look like something which would be in a royal household!
Rooms for one night range from £250 to £4500 for two adults. Although I didn't stay here the night, I did go upstairs to the birthday girl's room and have a look round. I don't know how much they paid for the room, but it was good size, with an extremely comfortable bed, and lots of space. There were plenty of places to put your clothes, and a beautiful mirror. The decor was lovely, and a bit less busy than any of the main rooms I saw in the hotel. The bathroom was huge, with a large mirror, two sinks, a shower, a bath, a toilet and a bidet. There were insane amounts of towels and lots of free toiletries around, all of a nice quality.
When inside The Ritz, it appears never-ending! There are lifts everywhere, and when on the ground floor, there are a few tea rooms which all look very similar, so it can get quite confusing! Everything is of extremely high quality though.
So to sum up, I had an incredible day at The Ritz. However I would never be able to afford the experience myself. I feel very privileged to have been able to go in there and experience the famous Afternoon Tea and sample their lovely canapés. I would, of course, love to go back again, because I felt something like royalty walking around there yesterday, however I know this is extremely unlikely, so I'll just be happy that I got to spend a day there with some of my closest friends!
Thank you for reading :) x