You have arrived at the Ritz in Madrid, slowly coasting into the thick carpets of the lobby. Engines are shutting down. The flight-comparison is carefully chosen – you were virtually propelled in by a bewitchingly smiling page girl who had given the revolving door a well calculated push at the right moment. You have passed the concierge desk on the right and checked in at the enchanting reception room to the left. Your luggage is in the room and you have landed. Now let’s explore the lobby, the field of deployment of the local and international socialites’ armies. Rarely do we encounter buzzing cosmopolitan flair in the company of such seducing and relaxed atmosphere.
At the grand piano, Vincent plays ‘it’ again. Tourists gather at the low tables, unfolding large maps, discussing the tours of the day. Delicate Spanish ladies teeter in high heels through the meadows of deep pile carpets, thankful for reaching the other end without a major accident. Their elegant costumes tell us about the wedding, the christening, the ceremony they are attending in one of the salons of the hotel, or at the Bar, or El Restaurante Goya. The Ritz is the place where the society of Madrid likes to meet. But the Ritz also stretches its arms wide open to the foreign visitor, permanently composing an air that immediately makes you feel at home.
Once at the Ritz, you are the focus of the staff, they follow every movement, every sign, and even if they seem to leave you unattended, they do it because you wish it. Hollywood actor Richard Gere stayed here for an undisclosed amount of time – the staff kept so perfectly mum that not even the most persuading Paparazzi had a glue. For the marriage of the Crown Prince of Asturias, Felipe, some 20 delegations – mostly crowned heads of all countries, resided at the Ritz. A challenge for the staff, heaven for the guests. Madrid is one of the architecturally most exciting cities of Europe. Old blends harmoniously with new.
The Ritz, I dare to say, gives me once again that feeling of being at one of the great classic grand hotels in the world. The wooden panelling, the impressive Henry Lepaute clock behind the concierge desk, the revolving door at the entrance – all this sums up to a pillow of cosy comfort one loves to rest on. From the Ritz you are at the Prado museum in 60 seconds. Rooms facing south overlook it. The Thyssen-Bornemisza museum is across the street, at the threshold of the historic centre of Madrid, which at some point is called Madrid de los Austrias. That stems from the days when the Habsburgs ruled Spain and the sun never set over their global empire. The Ritz was born into the Spanish monarchy of the Bourbons. Alfonse XIII, the son of Alfonso XII and Maria Christina of Austria, had this brilliant idea of encouraging the right people to build a luxurious hotel in their capital. That enterprise started in 1908, the hotel opened in 1910.
And here, my dear reader, is its story. Please follow me onto the next pages – I may, if you don’t mind – go ahead.
From the book Ritz Madrid by Andreas Augustin