Rioters do what Hitler could not — close the Ritz’s revolving doors


They are the doors that have ushered world leaders, Royalty and the biggest names in entertainment into the timeless luxury of the Ritz hotel. The revolving doors of the London landmark have stood for 67 years as a symbol of opulence and were untouched by Hitler’s bombs, V1s and V2s. But now they have been declared a security risk after the hotel was besieged by masked thugs in this year’s anti-capitalist riots.
In a move reflecting less civilised times, the doors, installed in 1944, are set to be replaced with conventional flush doors and metal shutters. The present arrangement is said to be vulnerable because the revolving doors are comparatively easy to prise open.
A planning application lodged with Westminster Council says ‘extreme violent attack’ has prompted the security upgrade.
The Ritz is anxious to prevent a repeat of the scenes in March when hundreds of masked extremists gathered in Piccadilly, Central London, and attacked the hotel with paint and smoke bombs. They are believed to have targeted the hotel because of the tax exile status of its owners.
It is understood the hotel’s owners, Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, personally made the decision to batten down the hatches. The brothers bought the hotel for £80 million in 1995 and lavished £40 million on restoring it over a total of eight years.
Swiss hotelier César Ritz, former manager of the Savoy, opened the hotel on 24 May, 1906. He hired world-famous chef Auguste Escoffier to provide cuisine to match the opulence of the hotel’s decorations. During his lifetime, the philanthropist Paul Getty kept a suite at the world-famous hotel.
And Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and the Commander of Allied Forces, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, met for summit meetings there during the Second World War.
The Ritz’s most famous facility is the Palm Court, an opulently decorated Louis XVI setting for the institution that is Tea at the Ritz, once frequented by King Edward VII, Charlie Chaplin, Sir Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Noel Coward, Judy Garland, Evelyn Waugh and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.


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