The lyrics from Irving Berlin’s song “Puttin’ on the Ritz”, reads: “If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to, why don’t you go where fashion sits?” So that’s exactly what I did.
During fashion week, I found myself at the one and only Ritz Paris. The iconic property, founded in 1898 by Swiss hotelier César Ritz, is situated in the 1st arrondissement, on Place Vendôme. As some may know, this location is considered to be one of the city’s most prestigious – being home to the showrooms of top jewellery and watch brands. Very handily, another shopping must-visit in the area is actually located inside the Ritz Paris premises. A covered passageway dubbed, The Gallery, houses a glamorous array of high-end boutiques along with about 95 showcases of fashion and accessories. Also, just a five-minute walk from the hotel is the Chanel’s flagship boutique on Rue Cambon. Coco Chanel, who famously lived at the Ritz Paris for more than three decades, used the hotel’s back entrance (situated on Rue Cambon) to get to work every day.
In June 2016, Ritz Paris reopened its revolving doors after a massive four-year renovation led by renowned French architect Thierry Despont. The gorgeous Parisian property houses 71 large rooms and 71 suites – including 15 Prestige suites that are named after the hotel’s most famous guests such as Coco Chanel, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The lobby is truly magical. For me, it was conjured through a combination of magnificent décor – which just makes you go “wow!” – and the sunlight that stream in through its quintessentially French floor-to-ceiling windows. Also, being surrounded by celebrities, editors and famous fashion personalities creates a buzz and makes the atmosphere that much more fun.
After a busy day of shows and presentations, I always looked forward to returning back to the Ritz Paris. As soon as you step into the hotel, you’re greeted by friendly staff who are ready to cater to your every whim. Each room, or appartement as they say in French, features Parisian-style décor to emit a private residential vibe. Much to my surprise, the flat-screen TV, room controls and telephone were super high-tech, too. My accommodation, which was fit for a princess, came with a king-size bed, a view of the jardin à la française, a walk-in closet and a spacious marble bathroom with double washbasins and an ‘experience shower’. What more could a girl want? In the bathroom, the first thing you’ll notice are the fairytale-like gilded washbasin taps – which are in the shape of swans. Then, you’ll realise that the bath and hand towels are all in the same shade of peach. Apparently, the hotel’s founder, noticed that this particular colour enhanced women’s complexions … and it does.
It’s important to fuel up throughout the day if one wants to survive fashion week. Truth be told, I didn’t really step out of the Ritz Paris to do that. What got me through the week beautifully was the hotel’s delectable 24-hour room service menu and onsite food and drink hotspots: L’Espadon, Bar Vendôme and Bar Hemingway. Michelin-starred restaurant, L’Espadon, is themed around four distinct dining areas, or – as it calls them – “universes”: Les Matins de L’Espadon, Les Jardins de L’Espadon, La Table de L’Espadon and Brunch at L’Espadon. During my stay, I opted for the hearty American breakfast on a daily basis.
Like L’Espadon, cosy brasserie Bar Vendôme has both indoor and outdoor seating with a retractable roof. The menu boasts elevated all-day comfort food such as club sandwiches and grilled salmon. Bar Hemingway, helmed by renowned head barman Colin Peter Field, while open from 6pm to 2am, offers a large selection of spirits and delicious cocktails including my favourite: Serendipity – a delicious concoction of champagne, apple brandy and fresh mint leaves. As the venue doesn’t take reservations, when I arrived at the bar promptly at 5.55pm one weekday, there was already a group of people waiting to get in. If you’re feeling slightly peckish while there, order the mini hot dogs from the bar’s charming newspaper-themed menu. Trust me, you won’t regret that.
Next time around, I plan to also check out the hotel’s Salon Proust and Ritz Bar. So what else is on the checklist for my next visit to this dreamy establishment? A manicure at Chanel au Ritz Paris (it’s the world’s first-ever Chanel spa), a few laps at the heated indoor-swimming pool and a pastry class at the École Ritz Escoffier.
Less than a week after I returned back home, a high-profile guest (who stayed at the hotel when I did) posted a picture on Instagram with the caption Ritz Paris #withdrawals. I couldn’t have agreed with him more.