While the anti-fur protesters rage outside, the Ritz's pillared, fountained Palm Court is an oasis of serenity. Remember to wear your good clothes (no jeans). Tea, served daily, at 3.00pm and 4.30pm, generally needs to be booked and costs pounds 14.50 a head, with a good deal of white-gloved grandeur thrown in free. Alternatively, nurse a Bloody Mary and a bowl of divine mixed nuts in the bar, a scattering of tables and spindly sofas in the vaulted hall, and watch the world and his mistress waltz by. Bar prices are on par with the rest of Mayfair; the ambience is pure, if discreet, hedonism. Within five minutes' walking distance are the Royal Academy, Fortnum and Mason and the Criterion Theatre.

(Photograph omitted)

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