“You feel a bit flash if you start throwing Claridge’s around at people.”
This week’s installment of BBC2’s Inside Claridge’s took us further into the hotel and focussed largely on the people working there (with a smattering of famous faces, of course). And this is the most interesting part of the show - you’ll get celebrities in any posh hotel - it’s not just the staff that make this hotel interesting, it’s the unusual way they go about their work. I’m not sure three people are needed to choose new alarm clocks for the hotel rooms. That’s not a three person job, is it?
Have you heard of ‘snagging’? I hadn’t until yesterday. Snagging, is quite clearly the best job in the world. Before a guest arrives in a newly refurbished suite, it’s given a test drive. Senior staff members stay overnight to make sure everything is totally perfect (and we were then given a little series of seemingly made for TV ‘problems’ that the hotel then had to fix). Still, it’s definitely a perk of the job.
The decorators were a jolly bunch, but it was all a little ‘look, we let people from the east end in! And they wear OVERALLS!’. That said, with so much work going into the restoration (it’s costing millions to do up the outside facade alone), you can see how much work they’ve got going on. One overflowing bath in one hotel room, a scuff from a wheely suitcase in another and they’re running around 200 rooms in a neverending cycle. There’s no doubting the painters and decorators work hard, but they were shown doing up damp and water damage - I’d expect that in any hotel, and you also get the feeling that the painters and decorators would be happy in any hotel.
It takes three weeks of training for serving staff to be let loose on guests. In that time, they’re taught everything, from the exact position of a knife on a table to how to make small talk with a guest. The fake small talk charade was rather uncomfortable. I find it a little worrying that it’s taught, but that might explain why I always find service in posh hotels a little uptight. I’d much rather a welcome came naturally, rather than being rehearsed for three weeks first. Still, I can’t help but swoon over their tableware - those green stripes are lovely.
Stephen Fry is an odd addition to the show. I’m quite sure he loves the hotel, but he spent a lot of time in the Savoy while they were filming, singing the praises of the American Bar. He can’t love both hotels equally. There’s no sitting on the fence here. Still, everyone’s favourite English gent will no doubt make the hotel seem that little more likeable, because at the moment it’s all coming across as a little try hard. Still, the show seems to be working - the website was down last night - presumably due to an influx of traffic from sofa Googling - and you’ll have to wait until April 2013 if you want to pop for afternoon tea on a Saturday.