The Ritz remained open during both world wars and survived the Blitz, but the 115-year-old hotel has fallen victim to the ‘pingdemic’.
I can reveal that Britain’s most famous hotel was forced to close its Michelin-starred restaurant yesterday, just 24 hours after so-called ‘Freedom Day’, because staff had been ‘pinged’, or ordered to isolate, by the Government’s Test and Trace app.
And it will remain closed ‘until further notice’.
The restaurant, which is known for its ornate red-and-gold dining room, offers Beef Wellington for £98, or its speciality Crepes Suzette for £40.
One guest who had booked a special birthday lunch for yesterday was phoned on Monday to have her booking cancelled.
The Ritz, Britain’s most famous hotel, (pictured) has been forced to close its doors until further notice because staff had been ‘pinged’, or ordered to isolate, by the Test and Trace app
The hotel has offered its ‘sincerest apologies’ for shutting its restaurant due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ and offered to extend all dining vouchers until the end of January 2022.
Top restaurateur Jeremy King, who co-owns The Wolseley down the road in Piccadilly, warns that the closure could be just the first of many that will cripple the restaurant business just as diners were beginning to return after lockdown.
‘I have immense sympathy for The Ritz,’ says King, who also runs Colbert and The Delaunay.
‘With the current test and trace system, it’s going to be a lottery as to which restaurants close over the coming weeks.’ He adds: ‘The system needs a rethink.’
The Ritz, where a suite can cost more than £2,000 a night, is said to be still offering 24-hour room service to guests.
A spokesman for the hotel, which held the Queen’s 80th birthday party and received a Royal Warrant for banqueting and catering services in 2002, could not be reached for comment. Perhaps they were ‘pinged’, too?
Film director Mickey Cornwell didn’t have to look far to find the stars of his new movie.
He has cast his very talented twin daughters, Maggie and Marie, to play 13-year-old twins in his short film, Court Number 5, released next week.
It depicts the girls making a life-changing decision of whom to live with when their parents split up.
My Hollywood insider tells me: ‘These girls are going to be huge stars.’
Bells are set to Peel for Lady Antonia
The Queen held her most senior aide, Earl Peel, in such high regard that she hosted a retirement ceremony for him just four days after Prince Philip’s death.
Now, the former Lord Chamberlain has some news to celebrate: his daughter, Lady Antonia Peel, 29, has become engaged to financier Hubert Morant, 28, son of ex-jockey and horse trainer Simon Morant.
‘He proposed at his parents’ house a few weeks ago,’ she tells me. ‘It was very relaxed.’
Lady Antonia Peel – the daughter of Lord Chamberlain – has become engaged to financier Hubert Morant, 28, (pictured with Lady Peel) son of ex-jockey and horse trainer Simon Morant
Lady Antonia is Winston Churchill’s great granddaughter through her mother, Charlotte Soames.
She works as PA to the headmistress of Wetherby Kensington School, part of the same school group attended by Princes William and Harry.
Lady Antonia and Hubert share their flat in Clapham, South London, with a pug called Hippo.
Dame to inherit Hays £4.5million
Hailed a hero when he saved the jobs of 2,500 travel agents after taking over the collapsed Thomas Cook chain, John Hays has ensured his widow is a wealthy woman.
Dame Irene Hays is due to inherit more than £4.5 million after her husband collapsed in his office and died last November at the age of 71. Hundreds lined the streets of Sunderland for his funeral.
Dame Irene Hays is due to inherit more than £4.5 million after her husband John Hays (pictured together), founder of Hays Travel, collapsed in his office and died last November aged 71
Newly released documents from the probate registry in London reveal that the Hays Travel founder left an estate of £4.59 million to Irene, 67, who became a dame in the 2021 New Year Honours.
Hays started his business 41 years ago in the back of his mother’s babywear shop, and built it up to become the largest independent travel agent in Britain. In 2018, its turnover reached £1 billion.
Friel and Finty party again
Some are reluctant to return to the social scene after 16 months of hibernation, so hats off to Anna Friel for setting an energetic example.
On ‘Freedom Day’, the Marcella star attended not one, not two, but three parties in the space of a few hours.
The most glittering of the West End bashes was at J Sheekey, where the restaurant was celebrating its 125th anniversary.
Friel, 45, was delighted to be reunited with her old friend Finty Williams, the 48-year-old daughter of Dame Judi Dench.
‘We met 22 years ago in New York when she was being a star on Broadway,’ Finty tells me. ‘Anna hasn’t aged at all — I can’t believe it.’
Anna Friel, 45, was delighted to be reunited with her old friend Finty Williams, the 48-year-old daughter of Dame Judi Dench on Freedom Day as she attended four parties to celebrate
Former foreign office minister Sir Alan Duncan made his first social foray this week since the publication of his explosive diaries.
‘I’m terrified of bumping into people I insulted in the book,’ he wails at the Savile Club in Mayfair.
Among his countless jibes, Sir Alan described Jeremy Hunt’s etiquette gaffe on an Arab trip as equivalent to ‘nose picking’; he called Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg ‘a cheap nationalist with an ego the size of a planet’; and said ill-fated Health Secretary Matt Hancock used to be ‘a pushy little s***’.
Top ballet couple in pas de deux
Dazzling audiences with his prowess is part of the job for Matthew Ball, principal dancer of The Royal Ballet.
And I hear he’s also made a big impression backstage — on his Brazilian dance partner, Mayara Magri, 27, whom he introduced to me at a party this week.
Pictured: Matthew Ball, principle dancer for the Royal Ballet, and Brazilian dancer Mayara Magri have moved in together during the pandemic after falling for each other through work
‘This is my girlfriend,’ Matthew, 27, tells me. ‘We met through work and moved in together just before the first lockdown.’
Adds new principal dancer Mayara: ‘The chemistry we have makes our performance better. We have trust.’