Above Ground on the London Underground—Day 30: Putting on the Ritz

 I’m taking a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings. Here are the days that came before. Still following the Piccadilly Line. This is Day 30.

The last time we took a virtual walk in London, we spoke our minds at Hyde Park’s Speakers’ Corner, now we’re going to unpack our high heel sneakers and put on the Ritz. 

Looking down at the lobby of the Ritz Hotel in London 
All images via the Ritz

Built by Cesar Ritz, the creator of the acclaimed Ritz Hotel in Paris, the website for the Ritz Hotel in London doesn’t mince words. 

The world’s greatest hotel, as conceived by the world’s greatest hotelier. For over a century The Ritz London has been the benchmark by which other hotels are measured. A London landmark at 150 Piccadilly, The Ritz has been home to the great and the good, the intelligentsia, the glitterati and thousands of discerning guests since 1906.

The Ritz is so, well, ritzy, that we owe the adjective ritzy to it. Putting on the Ritz

First, we'll partake of the hotel's world famous Afternoon Tea at the Ritz. If you're a gent, you'll need a jacket and tie. Ladies, you'll have to figure it out without rules beyond 'no trainers or sportswear’. No trainers means no running, basketball, tennis or cross-training shoes. No Nikes, Sketchers, not even Merrill's on your toesies. As far as no sportwear goespresumably the Brits mean no sweats, yoga pants, or cute little white skirts that look like tennis togs, or anything that you'd find on the rack at Ross under Active Wear. Sportwear, to most Americans is more typically a casually chic but perfectly appropriate ensemble designed by the likes of Michael Kors or Anne Klein. Sunday brunch at the vicar's is probably a good rule of thumb.

The famous Afternoon Tea in the Palm Court at The Ritz (pictured above) features 18 different types of loose leaf tea—make mine English Breakfast— along with finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones with strawberry preserves and clotted Devonshire cream, plus what they say is an equally scrumptious selection of afternoon tea cakes and pastries. Tea is served in the spectacular Palm Court with its gleaming mirrors, ornate gilded trellis, birdcage chandeliers, plus a stone statue-filled fountain and over the top floral display. 

Hmmmm. Are you as vaguely disappointed as I am? The picture above is via the Ritz press page. That dreary image is the one they choose to share of their world famous tea. Frankly, it looks a little drab. Boring. Unappetizing. Since when has ecru and beige been the only color for good taste? Would it hurt if the fine bone china had just a touch of color besides the blue that looks like the sky just before the rain falls?

The price of the quintessential British experience begins at £52 per person—about $75 for a cuppa and some scones. Obviously we’re paying for a lot more than a teabag —I spend about $4.25 on a box of 40 PG tips—we also have a pianist and harpist to entertain us. 

I wonder if the duo actually plays Putting on the Ritz? Most of us think of Fred Astaire singing and dancing in the 1946 film Blue Skies when we think of Putting on the Ritz, but the song was actually penned by Irving Berlin in 1927 and first heard in the film Putting on the Ritz in 1930, long before Fred Astaire made it his own. While both the song and the movie actually take place in New York, the band at the London Ritz frequently played the song after the 1930's film came out, making the term 'putting on the Ritz' ubiquitous. These days if someone talks about puttin' on the Ritz, we knew they're talking about being dressed to the nines and then some. 

The Royal Suite at the Ritz is a 2 story, 1600 foot suite located at the attached William Kent mansion.

Look, it’s not everyday I get to put on the Ritz at all, so that particular mediocre tea aside, I'm going to milk this opportunity for all its worth. I am spending the night at the Ritz, I just have to decide which suite to stay in. I assume the Royal Suite is the British equivalent of the Presidential Suite, the creme de la creme. I've got to admit it's pretty tempting with complimentary airport transfer in the Ritz' Rolls Royce, evening turn down service, and a 24 hour Butler, or as the Ritz puts it the "service of a dedicated butler to tend their every need and afford them service ‘fit for a King’."  Or queen?

However, following the maxim 'if you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it', the Ritz' website doesn't publish the price of the Royal Suite. Money is no object when it's all a figment of my imagination but still, I could just go ahead and slum it in one of the deluxe suites. The Picadilly suite still comes with a complimentary butler—Oh my, Madam, but don't you look mahvelous today!—and chauffeur service—Oh my, Madam, but don't you look mahvelous today! Shall we write a dime store romance in the back seat of the Rolls
But I do digress. At a mere 1300 sq feet, the Picadilly will be a little cramped. Still there's that extra bedroom if you care to tag along. The price, including breakfast, comes in at about £2500 or $3600 per night. There's no separate dining room but there is a spacious hallway I can walk up and down to get the balance of my 10,000 steps in. 

Can't sleep? Why not a night cap at the Tivoli bar? Feeling homesick for America? Their Manhattan ought to cure what ails you.

Sweet dreams.
Fred Astaire - Puttin' On The Ritz from Evgeny Demchenko on Vimeo.

The Ritz Hotel
150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR

+44 20 7493 8181

Counting the Fitbit steps

Day 1-29:                                       215,690 steps / 97.1 miles

Day 30:      The Ritz Hotel         10,000 steps /4.25 miles                 

Total Imaginary Miles to Date  225,690 steps / 101.35 miles

DAYS 1 –29

As always on British Isles Fridays, I’m linking up with Joy’s Book Blog

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