Architecturally, this French chateau-style building is the grandest of London’s grand hotels. Since returning to private ownership in 1995, over £25 million has been spent returning the glitz to The Ritz (née 1906). The restaurant, with its frescoed ceiling, garlanded chandeliers, marble walls, and views over Green Park and the hotel’s Italian Garden, is often cited as one of the most beautiful in the world. The 95 five-star rooms and 38 suites are impressively large and high-ceilinged, and are all decorated with rich fabrics, 24ct gold leaf and antique Louis XIV-style furniture; bathrooms are particularly sizeable. Taking tea in The Palm Court is an institution in itself and must be booked weeks in advance (the hotel is firmly on the tourist trail). The Ritz prides itself on swift service and boasts a ratio of two staff to every guest room, though a high proportion seem to spend their time intercepting scruffy interlopers in the lobby – the hotel appears to view itself as a venerable old lady to be treated with respect, subtly subverting the hotel-guest power dynamic.