Last night was the last time we get a peep Inside Claridge’s, they’ve shut their doors for good, but not before you got to have a little nose around the Noma pop-up restaurant. With the live ants. Really, really posh live ants.
Due to the rather strange timing of the filming, Inside Claridge’s was just about the only show on the telly last night that didn’t have a Christmas theme (which was arguably a welcome break after Nigellisima and all that fawning over chestnuts). Instead, we whoosed right back to summer and the Olympics where the show sort of divided down the middle. One half was all ‘look at how many important people come and stay at our gaff’ (to be fair, there were loads of important people) and that part was much the same as the previous two shows - a mix of showing how important and prestigious the hotel was while managing to point out errors clearly made for TV that any hotel would have fixed.
The other half of the show was actually rather strange. Seeing Claridge’s team up with Noma just didn’t ring true, there was something a little try-hard about it. The staff didn’t like the food (although watching the senior staff turn their nose up at the thought of eating Danish ants was hilarious). If the staff didn’t care for the food and didn’t believe in it, it makes you wonder why they chose such a controversial restaurant. Noma is obviously known worldwide, but it’s known for being daring and modern - two things that Claridge’s aren’t known for. If anything, they shy away from everything that Noma is about. A pop-up restaurant seems very modern for a hotel that really isn’t, but their choice of restaurant was very odd.
But, over 20,000 people were bidding to get a few thousand places at £195 a head, and then it all becomes a little clearer. They weren’t aiming this at their usual guests. Instead they were after rich tourists who had checked in for the ten days over London 2012. They could never have pitched this to the regulars.
That’s one thing that you can forget about Claridge’s. Their ideas are fantastic, but it’s a business. The hotel might treat the guests like royalty (even on the odd occasion that they’re actually not royalty), but it’s a business. Every decision they make is one aimed at turning a profit. Whether that’s bringing ants over from Denmark and serving them live, or offering up a chicken burger and chips in with a room service breakfast, every decision they make is for their profit margins. Rather cannily, this includes the fascinating TV show which has raised their profile no end. Claridge’s might be out of our reach, it might be a little ridiculous (some might even say vulgar), but goodness it’s fun to pop in for a little while.