London Drum

The Ritz Hotel London – Review of the Rooms, Rivoli Bar & Dinner in the Restaurant

The Ritz Hotel entrancePhoto: Craig Cross
Star rating: ★★★★★ Address: The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly Contact: Tel: 0207 493 8181 Web: theritzlondon.com Facilities: Two restaurants, bar, concierge, chauffeur, valet parking, laundry, turn-down service, room service, minibar, tea & coffee, Wi-Fi, TV, movies, telephone, hairdryer, ensuite bathroom, air-conditioning, safe Parking: Car parks in Mayfair Buses: 9, 10, 14, 19, 22, 38, 52, 452, C2 Bus fares Trains: The closest station is Green Park Jubilee Piccadilly Victoria Other nearby stations: Bond Street, Hyde Park Corner, Leicester Square, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus and St. James’s Park Train fares
The Ritz Hotel entrancePhoto: Craig Cross
The Ritz Hotel entrance

Craig’s review… Oh my Lord. So this is how the other half lives! I must be honest and say that I was a little bit intimidated before I walked into The Ritz. I know it sounds daft, but I wasn’t really looking forward to my stay here because I’m basically a slob, you see. I wear the same shirt all week, shave once a fortnight, and the only suit I own is my birthday suit, so the thought of walking into the poshest hotel in London filled me with dread and foreboding. I’m definitely going to get chucked out, I thought – there’s no way they’re going to let me stay here. They’ll all just stand around laughing at me, then I’ll be tied to the back of a limo and dragged around town whilst real rich people chuck mouldy old cabbages at me… these are the kind of thoughts that were going through my head this morning. But I’ve made it past check-in now and I’m well happy… my fears have disappeared.

Checking-in at the Ritz Hotel

As soon as you walk through the door everyone is very nice and polite and treat you like you actually deserve it (which I don’t), but they’re probably used to getting a two grand tip from everyone they meet. The guy in reception was like an extra from Downton Abbey. He had about a bazillion questions to make me feel more welcome: would you like a paper sir (er… can I have The Sun?). Would you like a wake-up call? Would you like a tour of the hotel? When would you like dinner, sir? What about room service? The one that flummoxed me was when he asked about the turn-down service. I haven’t got a clue what that is mate, I said. Apparently a maid is going to come into my room tonight and get it ready for bed, he said. Er… okay. That sounds like something for five-year-olds… pumping up my pillow and tucking me in. I wonder if she’ll read me a bedtime story as well? We’ll have to wait and see!

After check-in I was given a guided tour of the hotel by one of the reservation staff (apparently they do this for everybody). She showed me the Rivoli Bar and Palm Court with its gigantic flower arrangements and waiters waltzing around carrying silver trays of teacakes. Then it was up to my room and she even gave me a little tour of that.

Superior Queen room at the Ritz HotelPhoto: Craig Cross
Superior Queen room at the Ritz Hotel

Jesus Christ I thought as I walked into the room, trying my best not to look too impressed. There were so many cupboards and hidden gizmos that it took her a full five minutes to point them all out. Classical music was playing on a loop as well… I think it was Chopin’s Raindrops but I don’t really know. It was something like that. All I know is that it was posh. That is what greets you when you walk into the room.

Inside a room at the Ritz Hotel

Double bed in a Superior Queen roomPhoto: Craig Cross
Double bed in a Superior Queen room

And what a room! If you knocked together all of the downstairs rooms in my house then I’m pretty sure that the Ritz’s room is bigger. First of all you have a little sitting area with a sofa, two armchairs and a coffee table piled high with big hefty art books. They’ve also put a few newspapers and the latest issue of Tatler magazine on there. Then you have acres of space to the bed in case you want to have a ballroom dance, and then another acre to the window with another set of tables and chairs.

TV, mirror and dressing tablePhoto: Craig Cross
TV, mirror and dressing table
Lounge area in a Superior Queen roomPhoto: Craig Cross
Lounge area in a Superior Queen room

Then you have a separate dressing table and a mirror for getting ready, two bedside tables and a chest of drawers, a writing desk and office chair, a marble fireplace with a gigantic Chinese vase on it and a DAB radio with iPod dock. Then there’s another huge cabinet with a Sky box inside and a widescreen TV that’s almost bigger than the bed. There’s also an umbrella stand (complete with a businessman’s umbrella), a proper ironing board, two pairs of slippers, a minibar and fridge with six crystal glasses and a tumbler of ice… I think that’s about it.

Ensuite his-and-hers bathroom

Ensuite bathroom at the Ritz HotelPhoto: Craig Cross
Ensuite bathroom at the Ritz Hotel
Bath inside the Ritz HotelPhoto: Craig Cross
Bath inside the Ritz Hotel

The bathroom is decorated with red marble and gold and there are his and hers of everything… his and hers fluffy white towels, his and hers dressing gowns, his and hers taps. You get a bath and shower, another cubicle shower, plus a mirror that’s bigger than a window. And of course it has a phone in there as well in case you want to order a pizza whilst you’re brushing your teeth.

Do you know what I’ve just realised? You are not going to believe this. There’s no kettle in here! Oh my god. This is an outrage! This is the first hotel that I’ve ever stayed at that doesn’t provide a kettle and teabags in the room. Even the 2-star dumps that I’ve slept in do that, so I have finally found something that I can moan about. I was going to give The Ritz a glowing 5-star review but they’re not even going to get 1-star now – that is how strongly I feel about my tea. Apparently the only way of getting a cup of tea in here is to order it from room service otherwise it would do the butler out of a job.

Having a drink in the art deco Rivoli Bar

I’m heading down to the Rivoli Bar now (to have a cup of tea). You get met by a waiter who of course is very friendly and polite and speaks in la Français, sits you down and asks you what you want. I’ll have a cup of tea please mate (£6.50!). It comes in a china cup on a solid silver tray with a bowl of sugar lumps that are so big you need a silver set of tongs to pick them up. He’s handed me a broadsheet paper to read as well and a couple of slices of cinnamon cake while we listen to Frank Sinatra swinging softly in the background – it’s like being transported back to the 1950s. It’s all art-deco browns and golds, with waiters in sharp white suits and slicked back hair.

The bar is full of wives and widows and a couple of perm-do oldies who look like they’re totally used to this kind of thing. One of them is the perfect stereotype of a posh old doddy with dripping earrings and thick gold rings on her fingers, talking in a voice that’s posher than the Queen’s. Now a crazy old professor has walked in with a wispy white beard and five aerials of hair sticking out the top of his head, and he gets met by the waiter who attentively asks him how his day has been. “And what would you like, sir?” he asks, and he gets met by a question this time: “What’s the best drink for a sore throat?” I would probably go for a Lemsip, mate, is what he should say, but he suggests a whiskey and water instead. It’s a good job this guy isn’t a doctor or he’d be giving out beer on prescription.

I’ve ordered another cup of tea and he’s bought me another two slices of cinnamon cake. So that is my tip for you: if you want some free cinnamon cake then have a £6.50 tea at The Ritz.

Four hours later… I’ve just found out what the turn-down service is. Imagine that you’ve hired a personal assistant to do a load of totally unnecessary things for you… that is basically what it is. First of all she peels back the bed covers, then she puts a fresh pair of slippers by the bed and a glass of iced water on the table. Then she goes and hangs up your jacket that you’ve lazily dumped on the sofa. It’s all highly embarrassing… I’m a grown man for chrissakes. She’s like a mother and a nurse all rolled into one but she’s getting well paid I suppose, so I guess it’s all right. She doesn’t mind. But I must remember to have a quick tidy up before she comes back tomorrow.

Breakfast in the Ritz restaurant

I’m sitting in the restaurant having breakfast now. Very nice. Lots of pink and white tables, lots of chandeliers and pastel frescos and a giant gold statue at the end, but you have to dress up to get in. I’ve never dressed up for cornflakes before. (I’m being serious – if you don’t wear a jacket then they insist on lending you one from their wardrobe round the back.)

All of the food is wheeled out on a silver trolley with lots of pots and plates and bowls of jam and pans of sculpted butter. I’ve got three thousand knives and forks and big spoons and little spoons, plus a few cut glasses and china cups. I’ve got a bread knife, a butter knife, a cheese knife plus two more knives that I haven’t got a clue about (a Rice Krispies knife?). That is a hell of a lot of washing-up just for one person’s breakfast, I’m thinking. My waiter is just about the nicest person I have ever met and I get the impression that he never stops smiling, like someone has smacked him round the face with a bunch of flowers. He’s pouring out the coffee, pouring out the milk, putting a napkin on my lap, fetching the newspaper. If I asked them to blow my nose then I reckon he’d do it.

A steady stream of sleepy suits and grey-flecked hairdos have just walked in with the Financial Times hooked over the crook of their elbow. They look like captains of industry – the movers and shakers of the business world. Two guys behind me are currently discussing emerging markets in the third world when a middle-aged couple walks in, all goggle-eyed and smiling like they’re in a dream. Oh my lord, they’re saying, this sure beats yesterday’s breakfast at McDonalds.

Dinner in the Michelin-starred Ritz restaurant

Evening meal now… this is the life. If you ever want to propose to your partner then a dinner at The Ritz will seal the deal, for certain. Talk about glamour! It’s all yellow lamplights, flickering candles and a string quartet. All of the diners are wearing posh frocks and jewellery and I’m reminded of that scene in The Blues Brothers when they go inside that posh place and start flicking bread rolls about. That is me. I am the lowlife. I am the one who doesn’t belong… but maybe no one does. Maybe we’re all playing the same game.

The waiter starts me off with three little canapés that look like works of art and it’s almost a shame to eat them. Then some coffee and wine and fancy little toasts. Then he’s like a one-man Red Arrows display team as he swaps all of the knives and forks around because you’ve got to use the right knives and forks.

Everything has its own antique silver pot: the fine salt, rock salt, ground pepper, white sugar, brown sugar, milk, mustard, butter… I’ve already got about three thousand pots and plates on my table and he hasn’t even served up the food yet. When dinner finally arrives it’s what I call a ‘modern art’ meal: a pencil-sized strip of fish, three slices of carrot (not a joke – I counted them) and a few spots of colourful sauce dribbled artistically around the plate. It was very nice though – one of the best meals I’ve ever tasted – but it looked as if it should have been in art gallery rather than on a plate.

The evening ends with a string quartet playing jaunty waltzes in Palm Court. Then it’s off to bed and back to reality.

Worth a stay? Value for money? Nice rooms? Good location?

London Squire bookThe owns londondrum.com and has spent the last decade reviewing the capital’s landmarks, attractions and hotels. His guidebook is available from Amazon. This review was updated on

Your comments and questions

Carolyn How easy is it to book an afternoon tea at the Ritz? We can't afford to stay in a room but would really like to try one of their famous teas when we are in London. Thanks!

Craig Hi Carolyn. You definitely need to book in advance because depending on the time of year you're going you might have to wait as much as three months for a table (seriously!). And then remember that they have a dress code as well, so you need to make sure you're looking reasonably smart on the day. But I think it's definitely worth jumping through the hoops because the Palm Court is something special -- londondrum.com/​events/​?p=18542

Jill Hi. If I wanted a treat for my husband's birthday what is the most reasonable room you can book (and by 'reasonable' I mean cheap, ha ha). It would just be for one night and it doesn't really matter what time of year we go, because we can always put it back for a while. I would just like to be able to say we've stayed there at least once, because life is short (and getting shorter, ha ha)

Craig Hi Jill. I stayed in one of the cheap rooms myself - i think it was called a 'superior queen', which is the cheapest room you can get - but look at the photos. It was huge! It seemed more like a luxury suite to me. Depending on the time of year you go you'll be looking at £400 to £500 a night. And if you eat in the restaurant that's another £60 to £100 per person on top. But in my mind it's the best hotel in London, so if you want to treat yourself there's nowhere better

Maggie Burt I am coming to London and would like to treat myself to breakfast at the Ritz. It will be my first and last time, as I am treating myself to have something special, simply because I have been a working mam all my life, now retired, but want to experience something grand in my life. Will I be ok doing this alone, or will I be viewed as a bit strange!

Craig Hi Maggie. Don't worry, you'll enjoy it. I stayed there for a couple of nights on my own and I tried the Rivoli Bar, breakfast in the morning, meal in the evening... all by myself. All the staff are super polite and treat everyone like they’re the most important person there. You will be spoiled… and everyone dresses up for breakfast

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