Ritz Paris Hotel

The refinement of the French art de vivre meets the elegance of Belle Époque décor: the hotel’s rooms and suites bear the names of Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Marcel Proust — all of whom considered the Ritz “like a second home”.

This is one of a small number of hotels so high and mighty they create their own weather system. Which made the ragging it got when it reopened in 2016, after a four-year revamp, all the more baffling. Some scoffed that it was a facsimile of its former self, smelling of fresh paint but virtually unchanged. But what exactly would have been gained if the Ritz had been remade in the image of a Nantucket shrimp shack or Buddhist monastery?

It had stuck to its guns, and its critics were tilting at windmills. The Ritz remains, merci au bon Dieu, the Ritz, demonstrating that sometimes the most spectacular renovations are the least spectacular, though the hotel is as opulent today as at any time in its 122-year history. Yet even among the silks and tassels, a kind of democracy prevails. The smallest rooms are, by Parisian standards, generous, and differ from the mega-suites only in the scale, not the degree, of their sumptuousness. And it does not matter how rich, famous, or beautiful you are—the peerless Bar Hemingway still isn’t taking reservations. Doubles from about $1,110.

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