The milliner Philip Treacy adores the restaurant at the Ritz which for him is like stepping back in time
My favourite room without doubt is The Ritz Restaurant in London – which is also my favourite restaurant in the whole world. It's beautiful: gilt and gold with painted ceilings and chandeliers. It's rich in every way and like visiting another planet. The hotel was built in the 1900s and the décor is French, a reference to Versailles. And while this look is much copied, in my view, this is the real deal.
I first encountered The Ritz more than 20 years ago, when my sister got married in the Marie Antoinette Suite. I was a student and I made her wedding dress – I hadn't started making hats then – and that's how it all began. Up until that point, I thought the hotel was too intimidating to walk inside but, when I finally did, I found this amazing world.
Going to the Ritz is the biggest treat. And over the years I've had amazing times there with amazing people. The restaurant, in particular, is the setting for some of my favourite memories. When the late Isabella Blow was 40, I took her to the Ritz for her birthday. She wore this unbelievable 20ft kimono and the people in the restaurant were a bit stunned. The funniest thing was that Esther Rantzen was sitting behind us and Issy always thought she looked a bit like Esther. I whispered, "Issy there's Esther Rantzen." Resplendent in her kimono, Issy looked round and said in her distinctive voice, "Esther, we are supposed to look alike." Esther's face was, like, "What?"
I would say that all of my designs are inspired by the spirit of the Ritz, because hats are about ultimate moments in people's lives and so is the Ritz. Everybody should visit the hotel at least once, because it's like being in a movie. I don't go to the restaurant often enough; I save it for very special occasions. The food is delicious and the service is immaculate – from the minute you get there, it's like stepping back in time. If only we could live in that period. Margaret Thatcher had the right idea – I want to die in the Ritz...
Philip Treacy OBE is Britain's most celebrated milliner.