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Reviewed on 10/24/2011 | No Reviews

My Concierge Told Me

The Ritz will shut its doors for more than two years

For a very long time, the Ritz in Paris was considered one of the poshest hotels in town. But those times are over. The famous house will close its doors for a two-year-long “unprecedented” renovation starting next summer.

Don’t get me wrong, but it was high time: the hotel, where Coco Chanel used to live, had its last overhaul just a few years after her death. When exactly? Well, it’s more than 30 years ago. You imagine the décor? A bit dusty, a bit outdated. The Ritz is like like an old, wealthy aunt: rich, but wrinkled and a bit musty.

Very tired

Recently, Hotel Chatter reviewer Josh Flagg dubbed the hotel “very tired” and “overpriced”, saying it didn’t compare favorably with luxury rival George V. And he’s absolutely right. The Ritz has its name, its splendid location on place Vendôme, its myth, but that is all that’s left.

Founded in 1898 by Cesar Ritz and chef Auguste Escoffier, it’s now owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, the father of Dodi al-Fayed (who died alongside Princess Diana in a Paris car crash in 1997). Before the crash the couple had dined at the Ritz. When the hotel recently was passed over for “palace” status, a coveted title given to all of France’s top luxury lodgings, he decided to renovate all 160 rooms and suites. The cost of the makeover hasn’t been disclosed.

500 employees out on the street

During the time of closure, the two-star restaurant L’Espadon and the Ritz-Escoffier cooking school will close their doors as well. And, to be frank, I won’t shed a tear about it. Our last visit at L’Espadaon was quite disappointing and overall “sans intérêt” as the French say.

The sad thing is that Mr. Al Fayed apparently doesn’t worry about the employees. Only 30 of the hotel’s 500 or so employees will be kept during the renovation, a hotel spokesman said. Putting so many people out on the street after often many years of loyal service isn’t  a very elegant gesture. It is, if you asked me, a reason to boycott the future Ritz.

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Closing time, 3.0 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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