Inside Claridge's vs The Hotel

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The Hotel.jpgRegular readers of Satellite Dishes will be well aware that I'm partial to a spot of mickey taking. I generally love all the telly programmes on hospitality - Hotel GB being the glaring exception - because they tend to show what a marvellous industry it is.

Hot on the heels of Inside Claridge's concluding on BBC2 this week I hear news that Channel 4's The Hotel is set to return. Could there be two more different representations of British tourism? 
While the extreme lengths that the Claridge's staff went to satisfy the bizarre whims of its wealthy clientele might have seemed slightly absurd - ripping out a marble bathroom to be temporarily replaced by a jacuzzi is just one example - but they did so with enthusiasm and impeccably high standards. 

Yes, these privileges are all paid for, but that doesn't detract from the fact that they are generally delivered with a smile and a bucket load of pride. 

Now for The Hotel. The third season revisits the Grosvenor in Torquay. Cue lots of Fawlty Towers parallels yada yada yada... But based on the synopses I've seen for upcoming episodes, they are nothing if not entirely justified. 

Here's where I would usually insert a healthy dose of affectionate ribbing and invite you to tune in with me for some live tweeting action. 

Instead, I'm going to cut and paste the press release for episode three - entitled 'Sausage' - because quite frankly there is nothing I can add beyond this: it breaks my heart. Good telly? Debatable. Good for hospitality? Definitely not. 

It's summer season back at the Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay and after a long, lean winter, finances are at rock bottom and Manager Mark has the toughest challenge of his life ahead - to stop the doors closing on this business forever.

His bums-on-beds formula hasn't worked and only a radical approach can save the failing hotel now. In true eccentric style, Mark has come up with a master-plan - his self-appointed 3 star, bucket and spade hotel is going upmarket, catering to the "Guardian readers - the people with money". Cue more madness and mayhem as Mark and his trusted team try to lure in posh guests and keep them happy over another busy summer season. 

Mark decides he needs some new tricks to attract this more up-market clientele. He takes Alison to a nearby luxury hotel for inspiration and concludes that the answer to all his problems lies in investing in a new gourmet sausage. 

He plans to launch a new five-star breakfast, with the sausage as the main attraction. "The new sausage is really important. We're trying to attract the people that will be attracted by a big, fat sausage. That's the sort of guest we need. The ones that have the money: this has got to succeed."

To Alison's horror, Mark's idea doesn't end there: guests can opt to "upgrade" and pay extra for the posh sausage, which they will then eat in a roped-off, VIP area.  "Not everyone is having them. The crap sausages can be eaten by the normal people and the posh people can eat the award-winning sausage." 

It's "sausage apartheid" time at The Grosvenor but Christian sees disaster looming:  "I swear to God, it's going to be like the Titanic."

Checking in this week is a stag party from Bristol who Mark thinks are a "hooray Henry lot". But will their drunken antics lower the tone Mark is setting for the Grosvenor? And more importantly, what will they think of Mark's new sausage? 

And then there's an extra special guest: Tilly, Mark's daughter Victoria's dog, who is yet to be fully house-trained...

* The new eight-part series of The Hotel kicks off at 8pm on Sunday 30 December on Channel 4

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