The Piccadilly landmark, where the Queen celebrated her 80th birthday and guests have ranged from Jackie Onassis to Winston Churchill, is set to be given planning permission for the biggest refurbishment in its 115-year history.
The proposed overhaul — at an estimated price tag of £300 million — is aimed at modernising a hotel that has fallen behind the standards now expected at the world’s elite destinations. Westminster planning officers have recommended approval of the plans, which will go before councillors at a committee meeting next Tuesday.
Documents show that the five-storey basement would include a huge two-level spa with 20-metre swimming pool, gym, steam, sauna and treatment rooms, a juice bar and a beauty salon.
Another basement level would have secure parking for high-profile guests such as royalty or heads of state.
Other top-end hotels that have undertaken huge basement digs include Claridge’s in Mayfair. Leicester Square’s newly opened The Londoner has six underground levels going down 30 metres.
The Ritz’s plans would also see the addition of 53 bedrooms, taking the total to 191. This would involve an extension of the main building at roof level to the Arlington Street wing and a new structure on land currently occupied by the Eagle Star House office block, which is being demolished, according to the CoStar property news website.
The proposals come after the hotel was sold by the Barclay family to Qatari tycoon Abdulhadi Mana Al-Hajri in March last year for an estimated £700 million. The modernisation will bring the overall bill to about £1 billion.
In its application, the Ritz, founded by César Ritz in 1906, argues that despite major internal renovations in the Seventies and Eighties, it has fallen behind modern standards for luxury hotels. Its ground-floor Palm Court is famed for its £55-a-head afternoon teas.
A spokeswoman for the Ritz said: “This inspired project will ensure that the unique essence of the hotel is retained, sympathetically restored and further enhanced to reaffirm its status, for generations to come, as one of the world’s most iconic hotels.”