We recently ran a competition to win a two-night stay at the world famous Ritz hotel in London. Our lucky winner was Sue Searle from A Great Escape Guest House  in Swanage who used her expertise from running her own hospitality business to turn hotel inspector and let us know just how good this 5-star luxury treatment really is!

Here’s what Sue had to say:

When I was given the opportunity to stay for 2 nights at the Ritz, London, I honestly couldn’t believe it. I was going to experience one of London’s oldest and iconic 5 star hotels! I lived in London for 46 years before moving to Swanage in Dorset, and have always been aware of the building in Piccadilly. I never thought I would get the chance to stay there.

However, on Tuesday, 20th October 2015 at 2:30pm, thanks to the enormous generosity of eviivo, I drew up in my car and was greeted by Martin, one of the Ritz doormen, dressed in his full livery with top hat and gloves. He sensed my excitement and nervousness immediately and introduced me to Joe the Bellboy. Car and luggage disappeared almost before I put my foot over the threshold, and didn’t appear again until we had settled ourselves into our room!

What greeted me when I pushed through the revolving doors is shown in the photos provided. However, they do not portray the easy atmosphere and the truly stunning interior. I have stayed in a lot of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs, and had just returned from a 5 star hotel in Brussels. At the Ritz I have never experienced such opulence and subtle design in any establishment as I did here. It was Versailles in London: French furniture and carpets, lots of chandeliers and fresh flowers everywhere. There was also a strong Art Deco influence.

Ritz Hotel - Palm Court - October 2015

Check-in was leisurely and explanations given by the friendly receptionist called Baevan, who also showed us to our room on the first floor. The room was a Superior Twin and had EVERYTHING in it you would want, from trouser press to mini bar to complimentary soaps, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, flannels, sewing kit,  vanity kit, towelling dressing gowns and slippers. There were three sizes of towels in the ensuite: hand, bath towel and bath sheet – I have never seen this is any other accommodation I have stayed in. The ensuite had two showers: one static and the other handheld; and two toilet roll holders – one for the toilet and one for the bidet.

What struck me as we spent more time in the hotel was the constant reminder of where we were staying. The branding has been very carefully executed, and either the Ritz crest or name or both were shown on just about everything we touched throughout our stay. As we all know, branding is a very important part of marketing any product: the Ritz have it down to a tee.

When calling Room Service we were greeted by name every time and always in a friendly and helpful manner.  I believe I could have asked for anything and it would have been provided!

One the outstanding memories of the Ritz was the moment when we returned to the hotel after a brief excursion to Fortnum & Mason further along Piccadilly. One of their many doormen who I hadn’t noticed before, said “Welcome back Madam”. I was truly impressed as I have always believed that to be made to feel welcome and valued wherever you stay is the true essence of hospitality at its best. This greeting was given by whoever was nearest to the door each time we returned – what a nice touch! Furthermore: we didn’t have to state our room number when asking for our key as the receptionist ALWAYS remembered who we were! Bearing in mind that there are 134 guest rooms, that’s very impressive indeed.

We were keen to eat locally (and use as many of the services provided by the hotel as possible!) and so asked Tony the Concierge to book a table for us at Langan’s Brasserie across the road for the following evening. The confirmation of that booking was given in the form of a letter from him when we returned to the hotel after yet another shopping excursion… well, we were in London after all and soooooo close to all the shops!

Breakfast was a culinary delight and not to be rushed. The setting was a restaurant primarily designed in bronze. One end of the room is floor to ceiling in mirrors, divided into panes, which gives the room a spacious feel. The buffet table included: any juice of your choice; five types of milk; quail, duck and hens eggs; all manner of fruit including dates and prunes; cheeses from France and Holland; two types of salmon; a variety of ham and salami; an untold choice of breads; and a wide choice of cereals.

Ritz Hotel - Breakfast Buffet Table - October 2015

Although the Breakfast menu itself appeared quite sparse, you could ask for anything. On the last morning of our visit members of the Chinese government arrived for breakfast and were catered for with chopsticks and fare of their country. The Ritz pre-empt their guests’ needs and I would be surprised if they are ever caught out with a request they cannot fulfil.

In summary: The Ritz, London is a masterclass in hospitality. All of the staff bar none were friendly and had an enthusiasm and intent to make every guest’s stay as pleasurable as possible. Their training and experience made our stay one to remember and our wish to win the lottery even more intense!

Sue Searle