Restoring l'Hotel Ritz
The reputation of l’Hotel Ritz won it worldwide acclaim: its splendour made a lasting impression on everyone that visited it, including an Egyptian boy who, on seeing it with his grandfather on a trip to Europe, promised himself he would one day own it. This vow came true in 1979.
Location: Paris, France
Date of building: 1898
Timescale: nine years
Cesar Ritz envisioned a hotel so sophisticated in scale, style and service that it would enchant every visitor. Indeed, l’Hotel Ritz became synonymous with le magnifique, attracting the world’s most glamorous patrons. When Cesar died, his family continued to run the hotel but wartime misfortune and diminshed funds took their toll and The Ritz lost its lustre. In 1979 it was put up for sale and bought by a man who had been bewitched by it for years.
The Parisian palace Mohamed had remembered as a child was still standing in the physical sense, but its lavish interiors and glossy sheen had faded. He sought out experts to resuscitate the ailing hotel and bring its majesty back to life both in terms of its astonishing aesthetic and service.
Skilled tradesmen assessed the basics: the water pipes had rusted, the electrics were underpowered and the heating systems were less than apologetic. A complete overhaul and thorough refurbishment was required. This saw countless internal improvements made, and the basement extended to three floors to house a stunning Greco-Roman styled swimming pool, a health spa and a dining club. A new kitchen was installed and extra provision was made for staff.
Mohamed sought ways to recapture the mesmerising allure of the hotel’s youth, spending the equivalent of $1 million per room in doing so. Today, marble lines every bathroom, floral displays illuminate each floor, subtle lighting adds a soft ambience, and its history is attentively enshrined in every corner. Even its rooms pay homage to its most celebrated patrons including the Windsors, Proust and Chanel.
The achievement is extraordinary; every aspect of l’Hotel Ritz was manicured to an exquisite finish. Mohamed unveiled a masterpiece for which the French government were so grateful Mayor Jacques Chirac presented him with the Medaille de Paris and later President Francois Mitterand awarded him a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur. L’Hotel Ritz has since been named the Word’s Best Hotel.