The Ritz has bought its neighbouring building - the 18th Century-listed William Kent House - to expand its operations in time for its centenary celebrations in January 2006.
Caterer can exclusively reveal that after years of speculation, the old insurance building on Arlington Street, which had a guide price of £30m, has been acquired by the Ritz' owners, the Berkeley brothers. The purchase price paid remains undisclosed.
The building was designed in the 1740s by leading architect of the time William Kent.
Cesar Ritz, the hotel's founder, had always wanted to acquire the property.
Work has already begun on the Grade-I listed part of the buildin, to the rear of the site. Initially six private dining rooms will be created on the ground and first floors for private and corporate events, while two penthouse suites will be designed for the second floor. A new banqueting kitchen and bakery operation will be added to the basement.
General manager Stephen Boxall said that ideas on what to do with the six-storey 1970s office block that forms the remainder of the plot were still in the planning stage.
"The intention is not to keep the office block but what we are able to do and how the Ritz can subsequently be expanded depends on planning permission."
The initial refurbishment project is scheduled to be finished by early 2006.