Puttin’ On The Ritz
IT TAKES ARTISTRY TO GIVE RITZ HOTELS THE ELEGANCE THEY EXUDE
Ritz hotels around the world are famed not only for their own exquisite offerings but also for the artistry they inspire in their guests. (Tennessee Williams wrote part of A Streetcar Named Desire at The Ritz-Carlton Boston and Oscar Hammerstein wrote the lyrics to “Edelweiss” while bathing during an overnight stay at the Ritz, to name a few.) While not necessarily a guarantee, a stay at one of the Ritz’s unique locations always offers the chance for artistic inspiration.
The Ritz Madrid makes luxury an art
Featuring elegant views of the nearby Prado and Thyssen Bornemisza Museums,The near-century- old Hotel Ritz Madrid is situated conveniently in the heart of Madrid’s cultural and financial city center.
The entrance and hall of this hotel par excellence are exquisitely decorated with antique furniture and art pieces of the most refined taste.The building has 6 floors that host its 167 rooms, 30 of which are suites. Each room is unique and equipped with luxurious furniture and commodities to please the most demanding guests.
The Ritz means elegance, to say the least—bedsheets are handwoven with Irish linen, tapestries and rugs are from the legendary Royal Tapestry Workshop and lamps are made from fourteenth century Czech crystal. And yet, at the same time, the hotel has been perfectly modernized; the marble bathrooms with Bulgari green tea toiletries are a welcome indulgence for the visitor who wants to take a hot bath after a long day of sight- seeing or working.
Afterwards, guests can enjoy the succulent treats of Basque chef Jorge González Carmona at Goya Restaurant, where he serves up his top-notch Spanish cooking. Mediterranean tastes are blended with Basque and French influences, offering the visitor both traditional and avant-garde dishes. Not to be missed is the vitello tonatto Ritz version, a delicacy made of marinated tuna, fine sirloin with caviar and truffle sauce. The dining experience is complemented by a collection of Spain ́s finest wines and digestive liqueurs.
During spring and summer, the restaurant terrace remains open with its splendid assortment of white wicker furniture and bright blue cushions and awnings.After lunch, guests can enjoy a soothing walk through the hotel gardens with its unique Iberian tree species and pond dotted with aquatic flowers—a veritable bucolic landscape right in the center of Madrid! Beatriz Bonduel Smith
Hotel Ritz Madrid.
Plaza de la Lealtad 5. Madrid.
The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington adds history to the mix
Cesar Ritz knew a thing or two about life. Namely, that it is the seemingly inconsequential minutia that makes the day-to-day worth living. For parents, that minutia might consist of their child’s first drawing. For lovers, it might be hearing those three enviable words escape their sweetheart’s lips over a simple cup of coffee. For me, it was the moment the elevator doors of The Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel and Spa parted and the brushed gold and burgundy of The Club Level greeted me.
As the “king of hoteliers and hotelier to kings,” it was Ritz’s exceptional philosophy of luxury that redefined the hotel experi- ence.Through his management of The Ritz Paris and The Carlton in London, Ritz created an opulent atmosphere of multi-tiered Baccarat chandeliers and triple-milled French soaps.
If anything, The Ritz was a place where well-heeled guests were reminded just how sophisticated life could be. Details were simple but refined. White tie and apron uniforms for the wait staff, black tie for the maitre d’ and morning suits for all other staff begging a more formal, professional appearance. Ritz demanded quality—from the mandatory fresh flowers throughout the public areas to the doormen who remembered your name before you nodded a kind hello. He was also one of the first hoteliers to offer gourmet cuisine, utilizing the innovative cooking methods of friend and partner,Auguste Escoffier.
On theWest Coast,The Ritz-Carlton Huntington Hotel and Spa in Pasadena first opened as The Hotel Wentworth at the turn of the century. However, suffering at the hands of economic
hardship and severe climatic conditions, it wasn’t until Henry Huntington, railroad tycoon and art collector, purchased the 392 room property and renamed it The Huntington Hotel that things took a more optimistic turn. Hiring prominent Los Angeles architect Myron Hunt, best known for designing Pasadena’s Rose Bowl, the hotel reopened as a winter retreat for wealthy Midwesterners escaping the harsh cold.
The Huntington Hotel saw prosperous times in the 1920’s as celebrated writers, actors, political leaders, and royalty ventured to the hotel for Royal Tea, sumptuous meals in the Georgian Ballroom and afternoon swims beneath the falling purple buds of the blooming jacarandas. But the “golden years” faded with the stock market crash, The Great Depression, and World War II. Reservations were cancelled and the entire hotel was rented to the Army for a mere three thousand a month.
Following the war,The Huntington Hotel shot back into the limelight when new owner Stephen Royce hopped on board.The fine attention to historical detail came to life with formal wood accoutrements, Axminster carpets, gold crown moldings, and stained glass windows. The Horseshoe and Japanese Gardens, along with forty newly restored California murals, projected a life of warm sunsets, picture bridges, and twenty-three acres of fertile gardens in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.
A famed Pasadena landmark for almost a century, the hotel was bought by Ritz-Carlton in 1991 and promised to give guests a renewed taste of old Hollywood charm with classic Ritz elegance. Swanky locales and the finest amenities aside, what differentiates The Ritz-Carlton from other luxury competitors is the “hotel within a hotel” experience of The Club Level, taking service, literally, to the next level (the eighth, to be exact). Layla Revis
The Ritz-Carlton, Huntington Hotel & Spa.
1401 S. Oak Knoll Avenue, Pasadena.
Image: The Ritz is housed in an elegant early twentieth century building designed by French architect Charles Mewes, just a stroll away from the famed Prado Museum