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A painting of the Ritz from 1904 by Pierre Georges Jeanniot | © Public Domain/WikiCommons
A painting of the Ritz from 1904 by Pierre Georges Jeanniot | © Public Domain/WikiCommons
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Fascinating Facts About Paris' Ritz Hotel

Picture of Alex Ledsom
Updated: 29 October 2017
Paris’ Ritz Hotel is legendary. Beloved by its owner, the Nazis, and legions of fans throughout the last two centuries, it is full of fascinating stories that have come to life upon its recent revamp and refurbishment.

Everyone Loves The Paris Ritz

The Ritz was first opened in 1898 by César Ritz and has become an institution; it was one of the first hotels to provide en-suite bathrooms. It closed in 2012 for a £400 million facelift and reopened in 2016 to huge relief from its regular guests. Many people have loved it so much, they have lived here – Coco Chanel for 34 years. When the Nazis arrived in Paris, they went straight to the Ritz to make it their headquarters. To its loyal fans, it’s the height of sophistication, where nothing is too much trouble (a boa constrictor dining with its Duchess owner at breakfast) and where the Ritz is a little island of protection against the world.

The Paris Ritz is iconic | © Alessandro Prado/Flickr

Ernest Hemingway Was One Of The Ritz’s Biggest Fans

When World War II ended, Hemingway apparently rushed inside after the Germans had left, and up the majestic stairway, so pleased to have his beloved hotel back. Years later, one of his trunks was found in the hotel storage which contained the manuscript for his book, A Moveable Feast. He has a suite named in his honour (which under the new revamp is based around the theme of travel and includes a travel library) and the main bar is called Hemingway’s, where he spent so much time with other famous faces. Cole Porter supposedly spent nine hours a day here, chatting to his friends, and it’s where Hemingway forged his celebrated relationship with F.Scott Fitzgerald after meeting him here. They were immediate firm friends and later turned into adversaries. Unlike other Parisian hotels, the Ritz is a place where you meet in the bar and spend time drinking.

The Hemingway Bar where Hemingway and Fitzgerald met | © Pablo Sanchez/Flickr

The Hotel Has Many Literary And Historical References

Due to its prestige, and probably the amount of time its authors spent under its ornate doors, the Ritz has featured in many classic novels. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is The Night, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and Noël Coward’s play Semi-Monde. In the newly revamped Ritz, guests can look up through the new glass roof that mimics the Versailles Palace or out onto the gardens with ornate but updated topiary, sharing a little piece of the history. At the end of World War I, delegates at the Paris Peace Conference stayed in the Ritz. They would still find the entrance as grand as ever, but even more so. The local authority has cleaned the entire square where the Ritz sits, Place Vendôme, including the Column dating from 1699.

The Queen of Roumania campaigning at the Paris Peace Conference stayed at the Ritz in 1919 | © Public Domain/WikiCommons

The Ritz Will Always Be Associated With Princess Diana

The Ritz family sold the hotel to Mohammed Al-Fayed in 1979 and his son famously left the Paris Ritz with Diana before their fatal car crash in 1997. She is said to have dined in the Imperial Suite shortly before her departure. It’s clear that guests sashaying around the lobby with its updated colours are at home in one of the world’s best known and culturally renowned hotels in Paris.