The Mail on Sunday

Puttin’on the jeans!

- Miles Goslett and Keri Sutherland

FOR more than a century, The Ritz Hotel has been synonymous with luxury, indulgence and timeless style.

Walking through its doors, guests are reassured that even if the outside world is rapidly changing, the hotel remains anchored in an elegant past – where things such as casual dress, and most certainly jeans and trainers, simply won’t do.

Enforced graciously but rigorously, house rules state that in its two restaurant­s and cocktail bar, ‘gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie’.

However, the five-star establishm­ent, on Piccadilly in Central London – the hotel of choice for royalty, world leaders and film stars – has been quietly undergoing a revolution.

Two weeks ago, The Ritz relaxed its dress code so jeans can be worn. But only at breakfast. And they must be ‘very, very smart’. Trainers, however, remain very much banned.

Yesterday the hotel confirmed the relaxation in the rules. A spokesman said: ‘It was a management decision to change the policy and it’s been changed just to make guests feel more comfortabl­e.’

But some regular visitors to the 133-room venue, founded in 1906 and holder of a Royal warrant courtesy of the Prince of Wales, were unimpresse­d.

Actress Joan Collins said: ‘I only like jeans in the country. I’m not in favour of jeans in the city. But I’m not too bothered really about this. After all, they are letting them into Annabel’s [nightclub]. It’s the filthy trainers I don’t like.

‘I always think it’s nice to keep standards up. I suppose it really depends what kind of jeans they are wearing. There are some very nice designer jeans but then sometimes you see someone wearing jeans that look as if they’ve been covered in paint.’

Actor and director Julian Fellowes said: ‘I think The Ritz is the last “event” place in London.

‘These things are difficult for management, though it’s like the nightclub Annabel’s letting people not wear ties. It’s a business like any other.

‘I just have to hope that The Ritz will retain its sense of occasion. The problem, once you relax on jeans and ties, is that very suddenly people slip into wearing shorts and trainers.’

Social commentato­r Peter York said he thought the change was a ‘mistake’. He said: ‘When you think about it, most of the people who stay at The Ritz are probably elderly Americans or Hong Kong Chinese of a certain standing, and they’re probably the sort of people who like to be told how to dress. They probably like the old formalitie­s.

‘I’m surprised by this decision. I think the hotel should reinstate the old policy straight away.’

The Mail on Sunday put The Ritz’s new dress code to the test.

When booking a room by telephone the lady at reservatio­ns was careful to remind us of the regulation­s. When asked about attire for breakfast she said: ‘Very, very smart jeans may be worn if you like, but not trainers.’

Sure enough, yesterday morning the maitre d’ did not bat an eyelid as we walked into the dining room dressed in denim.

Despite breakfast being a ‘relaxed’ affair, our opulent surroundin­gs – gilt mirrors, splendid frescos and heavy silk drapes – said otherwise. If inclined, guests can order a threecours­e meal. Options include champagne and a £50 sirloin steak.

Nearby tables were occupied by men and women wearing jeans with casual indifferen­ce. Two men even wore T-shirts with light-blue scruffy denims. Another flouted rules and wore trainers – albeit a cleverly disguised black pair.

Only one guest, a man in his 60s, wore a jacket and tie.

The waiters, meanwhile, remained immaculate­ly formal in their starched white ties and tails.

President Bill Clinton is a regular at The Ritz. Before the dress code changed, his armed protection squad had been among the only people allowed to wear jeans in the hotel.

One member of staff said of the new code: ‘It is more relaxed and it better suits families and those who are in London for leisure.’

Rooms at The Ritz range from around £300 to £5,500 a night.

During his lifetime, the philanthro­pist Paul Getty kept a suite at the hotel, while Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle and Commander of Allied Forces, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, met for summit meetings there during the Second World War.

In 1995, Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay bought the hotel for £80 million, spending eight years and £40 million restoring it.

Comment: Page 23

 ??  ?? DRESSING DOWN: Reporters Keri Sutherland and Miles Goslett wear jeans to The Ritz and, left, the hotel’s elaborate restaurant where breakfast is served
DRESSING DOWN: Reporters Keri Sutherland and Miles Goslett wear jeans to The Ritz and, left, the hotel’s elaborate restaurant where breakfast is served

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