Hubert Burda Media

Life inside the Ritz Paris

The Directeur Général of the legendary hotel tells us all about its four-year renovation and shares his very own guide to the French capital.

A Suite Impériale at the Ritz Paris. Photo: Vincent Leroux

After nearly four years of renovation (helmed by renowned French architect Thierry Despont) this luxurious Parisian institution, which has a legendary address – 15 Place Vendôme – re-opened it’s famous revolving doors in June 2016. The hotel's wonderful Directeur Général, Christian Boyens, talks to us about all things Ritz Paris and fills us in on some of his favourite Parisian spots.

The Ritz Paris. Photo: Vincent Leroux

Can you tell us a bit about the makeover of the Ritz Paris?

I came in 2011 and at that point in time, the hotel had been opened for 113 years, non-stop. Our goal was to make the good things of the Ritz even better. At the same time, we also wanted to protect our DNA and make sure that the Ritz stays independent and that it stays a very Parisian and a very French hotel. We have 142 keys – 71 suites and 71 rooms. That’s also unique – to have a 50/50 [ratio] of suites to rooms. We wanted quality over quantity and to make it very residential. The hotel is even more beautiful now because a lot of things have evolved. Most important to me, is probably the service. About 80% of our clients, we pick up at the door of the airplane. It’s 100% personalised on your needs. The service aspect is very important. We have a humble, dedicated, warm and hospitable team that welcomes you and creates memorable moments for you on Place Vendôme.

What’s your favourite feature of the recently reopened hotel?

For me, to develop the outdoor gardens and have the outdoor space. For example, we have retractable roofs on the Bar Vendôme and L’Espadon that you can pull back and bring forward, so you can actually sit outside at the Ritz all year around. We have a beautiful garden. The bathrooms are great and the colours and, most important, it has maintained the private residence feel – the fabrics that they’ve chosen and the artwork. We have furniture pieces that date back to 1735 at the Ritz. It’s been a very passionate project and passion is what makes it all work.

Grand Jardin. Photo: Vincent Leroux

Grand Jardin. Photo: Vincent Leroux

In Paris, what's your favourite ...

Restaurant: In the hotel, what’s very impressive is the La Table de L’Espadon. Our dinner at L’Espadon. When people walk away after, they will never forget that they’ve dined there. In Paris, I would say Septime in the 11th arrondissement. It’s fresh, crisp, young and innovative.

Bar: Hemingway Bar at the Ritz, it’s fantastic. In Paris, it’s not really a bar, it’s a café, La Palette in the 6th arrondissement. It’s a very local spot.

Boutique: For my wife, it would be Chanel. For me, it would be Hermès.

Hairdresser: David Mallett.

Spa: Chanel au Ritz Paris [the world's first Chanel spa].

Paris is obviously one of the fashion capitals of the world. What's the Ritz like during fashion week?

I’m always amazed that I see the same clients throughout the day, but there’s one big change during fashion week.  You see the same clients change their outfits four to five times day. Its tremendous, the effort that goes in. It’s a lot of work. People start with blow-dries at 6am and then they go from one show to the next. So it’s a real buzz at the Ritz, it’s a good scene for sure.

Suite Coco Chanel. Photo: Vincent Leroux

Suite Coco Chanel. Photo: Vincent Leroux

We know Coco Chanel lived at the Ritz Paris for a long time. Can you tell us more about that?

The presence of Mademoiselle Chanel is very much there. She came into the staff entrance – the back entrance – of the hotel to go back and forth from the atelier [on Rue Cambon] to the hotel. She was such an important person in the history of the hotel, not only because of her and her impact on fashion, but also because of the people she met, the people she invited to the hotel and the people that learned about the hotel through her.

At the end of the day she moved throughout the hotel several times but we kept a lot of the original furniture pieces and together, with Chanel, we created her Chanel apartment that got completely renovated but in her spirit, with her furniture, lights, chandeliers and her tables. It’s a one-of-a-kind apartment.