Paris Ritz hotel reopens after four-year renovation

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The iconic Paris Ritz hotel will re-open its palatial doors to guests Monday after nearly four years of renovations and a major fire.

The classically styled hotel, owned by Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Al Fayed, has undergone a top-to-bottom makeover since it first closed for renovations in 2012.

The Ritz, situated on the swanky Place Vendome, will only have 142 rooms and suites, compared to 159 previously, but not all of them will be immediately available as final touches are still taking place.

The hotel was supposed to have re-opened in March but a fire ravaged a section of the building in January, delaying the plans.

To celebrate its much-anticipated reopening, the Ritz partnered with director Zoe Cassavetes to make a short film centred around the hotel. The movie, “Behind the Door”, will be released on Wednesday.

Founded by Swiss entrepreneur César Ritz in 1898, the hotel is famed as the stomping ground of figures such as Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway, who has a small bar named after him.

“When I dream of afterlife in heaven, the action always takes place in the Paris Ritz,” Hemingway once said of the hotel that inspired the word “ritzy”.

The American writer famously rallied a group of Resistance fighters to go and liberate his beloved hotel which had been requisitioned in June 1940 by the Nazis and occupied by German brass including on occasions Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels.

However he was too late as the Nazis had already left, so he took to the bar where he is said to have run up a tab for 51 dry Martinis.

In more recent history however, the Ritz has become known as the place where Britain’s Princess Diana spent her last hours before a car accident in a tunnel in the French capital while being pursued by paparazzi.

The refurbishment of the hotel, estimated at 140 million euros ($150 million) in 2012, was aimed at sprucing up the ageing hotel to cater to the tastes of its mega-rich clientele.

It now boasts a summer restaurant under a movable glass canopy, a larger ballroom and the latest technology in its rooms.

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