The newly renovated Ritz Paris is a historical beacon of glamour and class in the heart of Paris.
“When I dream of an afterlife in heaven,” Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “the action always takes place at the Ritz Paris.”
It’s been many years since I have stayed here, and it was well before its recent renovation (reopened in June 2016 after a major four-year, multimillion-dollar renovation), but it always feels special to be here (and the George V too, but that’s another post!). A now, a brief history of the hotel:
- Founded in 1898 by the Swiss hotelier, César Ritz, in collaboration with the French chef, Auguste Escoffier
- 1934 Designer Coco Chanel—whose boutique is just across the street from the Rue Cambon entrance—moves into a suite at the Ritz. She also Chanel died there in 1971; to this day a suite is named in her honor.
- 1940-44 When the Germans occupy Paris in June 1940, the Ritz is used as Nazi headquarters, with Luftwaffe commander Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring staying in the hotel’s Imperial Suite. In 1944, with Germany in retreat, Ernest Hemingway, then a war correspondent, drives up to the Ritz with a group of soldiers and “liberates” the hotel bar, ordering champagne for everyone
- 1957 Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper star in the romantic comedy Love in the Afternoon, which is set at the hotel. The Ritz has cameos in two other Hepburn movies: Funny Face, from 1957, and How to Steal a Million with Peter O’Toole, from 1966
- 1979 Following the 1976 death of César Ritz’s son, Charles (who succeeded his father in 1918), the hotel goes into a period of decline. In 1979 Egyptian businessman Mohamed Al Fayed purchases the Ritz for a reported $30 million and invests another $250 million to restore it to grandeur over the next decade
- 1997 On August 30 Princess Diana dines with her boyfriend, Mohamed Al Fayed’s son Dodi, on the fateful night that they died in the car crash
- 2012-16 Mohamed Al Fayed closes the hotel–which was left off the French tourism ministry’s list of “palaces” in 2011–for a four-year, $220 million renovation
Author: Carrie Mitchell
Carrie A. Mitchell is the founder of L’Aventure Travel, the host of the Suitcase Sojourn Podcast, and author of the children’s travel book “To Be We”. Carrie is a global travel and hospitality expert who works with publications, brands and entertainment outlets on a number of travel related projects, from marketing consulting to editorial coverage to hosting & producing content for the web, TV and podcasts. She is always seeking to learn from people and places around the world, and share through her cultural exploration (40+ countries and counting)