Review of BBC’s Inside Claridge’s

Friday, 7 December 2014 1:56 PM

You might expect a documentary about a hotel to be rather dull, but when it’s one of the most famous and quintessentially British hotels with guests paying up to £6,000 a night, it certainly isn’t.

From the moment the documentary started, with staff hand cleaning each individual piece of a £1 million glass chandelier every single night, to completely refitting a whole floor for Saudi royalty that hadn’t even confirmed their booking yet, the new BBC Two documentary didn’t fail to both shock and impress.

“Have you ever said no to a guest?” one member of staff was asked by documentary maker Jane Treays. “Never”, came a quick reply, and it seems like they actually haven’t. Robert Downey Jr. demanded that a fully equipped gym to be built in his suite and the (she who must not be named) Japanese equivalent of Britney Spears required a Jacuzzi to be built into hers, and of course Claridge’s complied.

The five star luxury Mayfair hotel, which opened its doors in 1856, has never allowed cameras behind the scenes of its plush art deco interiors until now, so a look into this most celebrated of London hotels has been much anticipated.

But aside from the shocking demands of the rich and famous, what surprises most is the genuine and happy nature of its 420 members of staff. From the ever-smiling Dale Winton-esque general manager Thomas Kochs, who says he presides over the hotel like a conductor over an orchestra; to personal butler Michael Lynch, who started the job when he was only 16 years old and has never worked anywhere else since; and the grinning Filipino member of the house keeping team who claims she would never want to be rich and famous like her guests and believes she is a lot happier in her own life.

Turning over £58 million a year, the hotel is seen as a perfect home away from home for those who have become regular guests over the years. “Sammy used to be so miserable when he came to London and would want to go after one night, but after staying at Claridge’s, he doesn’t want to leave,” said the owner of one of the hotel’s regular guests, Sammy the dog. This four-legged friend has his own bowl and blanket stored at Claridge’s and even his own butler to walk him.

Other favourite regular guests among all the staff are retired Californian couple Mr and Mrs Melchor who have been coming to the hotel twice a year for over 40 years. Treated both like old friends and royalty, the couple have been staying at Claridge’s for longer than any of the staff have worked there, and upon arriving Mrs Melchor is always presented with the hotel’s master set of keys. From the way the couple like their beds made, to where their chairs and biscuit table is placed in the room, everything is thought of and laid out to exacting precision.

But what really sums up the whole feeling of the documentary is when the interviewer asks one affluent guest: “What do you think about paying this much money on a hotel room in this age of austerity?”  Looking over at the grand piano in his suite, he pauses then simple says: “Look. There’ll always be luxury.”

This three part series continues on BBC Two on Monday December 10 at 9pm.

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Review of BBC’s Inside Claridge’s

Inside Claridge's

You might expect a documentary about a hotel to be rather dull, but when it’s one of the most famous and quintessentially British hotels with guests paying up to £6,000 a night, it certainly isn’t.

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