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Thomas’s hotels

I enjoyed watching the BBC’s A Hotel for the Super Rich & Famous, about the Corinthia hotel in London, which isn’t my usual kind of thing. But I do like behind-the-scenes stuff, and seeing all the busy-ness among hundreds of people behind the scenes of a posh hotel is interesting.

As the slightly eye-rolling title suggests, some of the interest is in marvelling at how much rich people will spend on a suite, and the fanciness of their rooms, and where keeps his clothes. But I find the how-it’s-all-done most interesting.

On the one hand it’s great to watch people who are able to do things to a high standard, whether it’s preparing a room or refurbishing a restaurant or saying “yes” to every guest’s strange requests. And on the other hand it’s also reassuring to see that sometimes they don’t really know how to do things. When they revamp their afternoon teas — new crockery, new sandwiches, new presentation — they spend a lot of time discussing the details — what angle to position the crockery’s stripes, what sandwich fillings are novel-but-not-too-novel, how to position the sandwiches on the plate. And then, when they serve the first new afternoon teas, they realise it’s not quite working and they need to figure out how to serve a fancy cake without it falling apart.

The central figure is Thomas Kochs, the managing director, who was also the central figure in the BBC’s very similar series from 2012, Inside Claridges, when he was the general manager there. (I expect the BBC will work its way through London’s swanky hotels but, no, TV is doing great, and full of original ideas, honest!) I like Thomas. He’s very calm, quite guarded, very tactful, only occasionally letting the mask slip, when you catch a moment of a laugh.

Photo of Thomas Kochs
Thomas Kochs in a promotional photo for the show

I assume it’s unusual to have two different documentaries, about different places, years apart, “starring” the same person. It made me think it’d be nice to catch up in the future on some of the younger people we meet briefly in A Hotel for…, like Max, the sixteen-year-old apprentice porter/concierge. Like 7 Up etc. but… hmm, I’m not sure quite how it would be different. More light-hearted? Only returning to see these people in their workplaces, talking about their work?

Anyway. It’s basically a TV-licence-fee-funded advert for a really expensive hotel, but it’s an entertaining TV-licence-fee-funded advert for a really expensive hotel, full of people from all around the world, who mostly seem nice, and trying to do their jobs well.

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