Tag Archives: Claridges

CH4…The Hotel. Is all publicity good publicity?

17 Feb

The documentary The Hotel intrigues me. The fly on the wall documentary centres around the trials and triumphs of the the three star Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay. The seaside hotel is run by the “star” of the show – Mark Jenkins.

For a long time I could not figure out if this was a real hotel, some sort of mockumentary like “This is Spinal Tap“, or some really out there documentary where you are left scratching you head as to whether it is real, like the BBC documentary “The Armstrongs“.

Week after week we are treated to hysterics, complaints, fallouts,  clashes of ego and footage of a hotel that looks like it is in desperate need of a lot of TLC. To use a pun, The Grosvenor was not only washing its dirty linen in public but had called in the cameras.

Now the show is in its third series so there isn’t the excuse that they don’t know what they let themselves in for, or they have been conned by the TV production company. So why carry on with doing the documentary?

Earlier this year we were treated to a programme in a similar vein, featuring Claridges Hotel London. This  was in comparison, a tightly controlled and polished PR exercise setting out to achieve just one thing and that was to strengthen Claridges’ brand in the mind of its existing or prospective customers.

I personally think the Grosvenor hotel management have figured out how much the British public have fallen in love the cult of celebrity.  They have realised irrespective of their failing, being featured week after week on TV will bring in a lot of clientelle desperate for a brush with fame however tenuous it might be.

The reviews on Trip Advisor the travel review site reinforce this where almost every review posted about the hotel mentions the fact that it was featured on TV.

From one happy visitor..

after seeing the tv show on channel 4 i immediately made it my mission to spend a week in this hotel. 3 months later my husband and I were on our merry way. the journey there was not fuelled by petrol but my anticiption and excitement and im very happy to say i was not disappointed.
on arrival, Mark gave me and my husband a great big hug and offered to carry in my pet cat, fluffy, who was very tired from the journey.
all the facilities in the hotel were brilliant including the new full size snooker table the newly installed jacuzzi is very relaxing.
however it was the professionalism and sheer class of the owner Mark that my stay will best remembered. my husband had ran out of socks by the last day so mark kindly took his off and gave them to my husband to wear. that sums mark up. a pure class act.
i will definetely be back and i think next time i will bring my single friend who has a little crush on mark.
if anyone is thinking about whether to stay here, i would urge them to book up now. it is a must. thank you mark. you are a legend

and another…

Stayed here just because it was on the TV and the other half loves the show. Wouldn’t normally go to a budget seaside resort, so wasn’t sure what to expect!

Got over the initial surprise as to how dated and basic the rooms were by reminding ourselves that it was only £60 for the night! However, the lack of a shower in the room was a step too far in terms of basic… However, staff dealt with it excellently and we were moved to a much nicer room complete with shower within 15 minutes.

Breakfast existed, which is all that can be said, but again it’s a budget hotel and so wasn’t expecting rosette standard food!

All in all we had fun, staff were friendly and the hotel itself, whilst basic, wasnt offensive! I imagine the hotel has more character than the thousands of others in Torquay!

For others the brush with celebrity was not enough to cover up the deficiencies of the hotel.

What a shocker. I was expecting Basil Faulty to turn up. Bland indescribable food. Basic dated rooms and common areas. No professionalism from Managers/reception head. Just like it is on TV – terrible. Don’t waste your money

Overall though it looks like the opportunity for a fleeting dalliance with fame coupled with a hotel that offers value for money trumps any defects the Grosvenor might have. So is all publicity good publicity? On this evidence I think that might be a Yes!

BBC2…Lunch is Av-Ant Garde at Claridge’s!

18 Dec
Claridge's Hotel in Brook Street, London, Engl...

Claridge’s Hotel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Should the Big Yellow Box be worried? Apparently Claridge’s offer long term storage for their customers, particularly if you spend a reasonable time at the hotel. Say maybe 30 days a year for last 10 years and insist on a suite that sets you back £3,500 a night.

Welcome to another edition of BBC Two’s fly on the wall Documentary – Inside Claridge’s. Although being Claridge’s it probably more aptly termed rare Tibetan turquoise tiger beetle on the wall rather than some common domestic fly.

We start off with a visit from Jose ‘Pepe’ Fanjul. A billionaire with interest in sugar companies across the world including Tate and Lyle. For Pepe Claridge’s is a home away from home. In between jaunts to Scotland for a bit of shooting and trips across the world he likes to come back to the familiar luxury of Claridge’s.

He is in and out so frequently that the hotel stores clothes, furniture and presumably pretty much anything else he wants stored to ensure every night stayed there is as stress free as possible. At £3,500 a night it is the very least they could do.

The big theme tonight was the Olympics. The episode was filmed over this year’s London summer Olympics and Claridge’s was heaving under the weight of delegations from over 30 countries  If you ever wondered where some of the billions that the Olympics cost went, a fair sum seemed to have been spent here. With Rooms at £5,000 a night you would need an Olympic sized budget to cope which Seb Coe obviously had.

We saw entourages from across the world checking in, a team of 16 from Malawi staying for 11 nights, team of 9 from Gabon for 8 nights, the Attorney General of New Zealand and many more. Prince Andrew also popped up, although it was unclear if he was there as part of the Olympic jamboree.

As a special celebration of the Olympics, Claridge’s had teamed up with what is supposedly the best restaurant in the World – Copenhagen based Noma  - for a two-week special event.

Noma’s specialty menu for the event included amongst other things foraged greens, Juniper oil and live ants all for the princely sum of £195 a sitting.

I often find when people have to explain or justify why a particular dish is great you do come away with the sense that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors under pinned by great marketing rather it being simply great food.

That was the sense I came away with watching all the to and fro’ing as they set our recreating the spartan Scandinavian feel of Noma in Claridge’s ballroom. Maybe I am just a food pleb with an agrarian palate but it seemed that everyone shown ‘enjoying’ the food for this event had to ‘like’ it irrespective of what their faces portrayed as they nibbled of a selection of live ants.

I did warm a bit to Noma head chef Rene Redzepi though when asked about Prince Andrew and his quizzical response was “Who’s he?”.

The Olympics clearly looked like a winner for Claridge’s but it came at a price as the hotel was invaded by vast numbers of what can only be described as the hoi polloi, congregating in the lobby in numbers and even going as far as resting their feet on footstools. You get the feel that Claridge’s could not wait for the hotel to return to its traditional luxurious gentility.

BBC2…How many people does it take to choose an Alarm Clock at Claridge’s?

10 Dec
English: Claridges Hotel This luxury 5-star ho...

Claridges Hotel  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

BBC2 took us on a trip into one of the last bastions of British Gentility as it once would have been. The Claridge’s Hotel in London. To call Claridge’s well-appointed is to understate its poshness. It is like a shop with no price tags, a club with comfortable well-preserved Chesterfield chairs, a church with wedding banns from the 1700′s.

I often find with these things it is the scale, or sometimes the detail of what goes behind the scenes that is impressive. With Claridge’s I was impressed the longevity of service of the staff, the fact that the hotel had their own tailors making made to measure uniforms for staff, and the scale of their laundry operation. Not sexy but very impressive.

In times where so much is outsourced and contracted out, retaining full ownership of the what makes you unique may not be the most profitable way to run a business but it almost certainly ensures that you can maintain the quality you are renowned for, and maybe also allow you to get away with charging £6,900 per night for your most expensive room. A move that is not going to make you popular on TripAdvisor.

The eye watering charges notwithstanding, it does come across as a great hotel, an institution that has stood the test of time.

We saw a sample of the guests attracted by its opulence, The Crown Prince of Yugoslavia, the actress Joan Collins and an East End Bookie made good, old money, celebrity and a geezer with lots of cash. I suspect in the old days the cockney geezer may have had a somewhat harder time getting the welcome he gets now.

Like the Hotel itself the programme was gently reassuring. The Manager Thomas, with his clipped  German accent, exuded an aura of Teutonic efficiency but still showed a clear appreciation of the importance of tradition.

If I had the cash to blow, I think a few nights at Claridge’s would definitely be on my list.

And Oh the answer to the question is 4. That’s how many members of staff it takes to choose an Alarm clock at Claridge’s.