Booking into an establishment where the cockroaches are permanent residents and love keeping |their guests company, cobwebs feature prominently in the decor, the plumbing sounds as if it is possessed by a poltergeist, the furnishings transport you back to the era |of doilies and floral designs and the stench makes you want to |gag is an uninviting prospect. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay bravely explores such B&Bs, lodges and hotels in BBC Entertainment’s Ramsay’s Hotel Hell… and hell is exactly |what the stickler for excellence gives them for subjecting their customers to such conditions, writes Debashine Thangevelo.
WITH 13 Michelin stars to his credit, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is meticulous when it comes to keeping a customer happy. And it is these lofty standards of excellence that he applies to all he does. It also explains why his restaurants are a goldmine and why his shows, such as Hell’s Kitchen and Kitchen Nightmares, have garnered a cult following.
This time, Ramsay leaves the kitchen as he embarks on a few pit stops at an array of B&Bs, lodges and hotels, where his expertise is much needed.
His first check-in was at the Juniper Hill Inn in Windsor, Vermont, which aired last Monday. And Ramsay was far from impressed with the stench in his room, the appalling behaviour of the owner, who pockets the tips left for the staff, and overpriced gourmet meals that are a far cry from palatable.
Just as Ramsay is about to write off this establishment, he finds antiques and collectibles, and this changes his mind. In tonight’s episode, which follows on from him driving off, he gives the owner a chance to restore the reputation of his “upper crust” hotel. This is just the tip of the iceberg of problems plaguing the places his visits.
The Keating Hotel in San Diego, California, needs an overhaul of its menu, which comprises (gasp!) chocolate-bacon-strawberry pizza, and takeout containers for room service. So utterly taboo and, I’m not sorry to say it, yuck!
And the Roosevelt Hotel in Coeur d’Alene in Idaho takes grimy to new lows. Boasting unwashed linen and outdated decor, this hotel is anything but habitable.
On doing this series, Ramsay told tvismypacifier.com: “I’ve stayed in thousands (of hotels)… and I have a small boutique hotel in London. It’s at Regent’s Park. I think it stemmed from the ups and downs and the… I suppose the laziness… that I started witnessing. Because they’re landmark addresses and big buildings, they think they don’t really have to work as hard as they should do. So it comes from partly the stuff I’ve experienced, and also a scratch beneath the surface.”
He says a common mistake most hotels make is that they become too systematic.
Ramsay expands: “They see a bedspread and thinks it’s new and looks great. Just because it looks neat and tidy, it doesn’t mean it’s clean. The worse scenario with hotels is the fact that they are open 365 days a year. Airplanes can’t even fly that long. They need to be reassessed, repositioned and re-engineered.”
As for the challenges of fixing a hotel as opposed to a restaurant, he shares: “One hotel in particular was in San Diego. There’s a young entrepreneur who’s bought it for millions, and he got Pininfarina – as you know, they design Ferraris – and they had all this hi-tech spec furniture that just looked ridiculous.
“It was so far futuristic, it was uncomfortable. He had a bar, a nightclub, a restaurant, room service, banqueting and 60 rooms – and was completely out of his depth.”
With Ramsay not feeling very much at home because of the state of the hotels he checks into, I wouldn’t be surprised if the F-word keeps him company throughout the series.
One thing is guaranteed, though, viewers are in for an exhilarating ride as he does some serious house cleaning.
• Ramsay’s Hotel Hell is on BBC Entertainment (DStv channel 120) on Mondays at 8pm.