The Hotel Inspector vs The Astor Hotel
Last night saw the first airing of a TV programme that I had been anticipating for months: The Hotel Inspector. Why was I so keen to watch it? Two reasons: it was set in my home city, Plymouth, and I was in it! This article is about what it was like to be part of the show.
Filming the Show
The basic premise of Hotel Inspector is simple: ailing hotels call in the Hotel Inspector (Alex Polizzi) who uses her expertise to help them turn their businesses around. The show itself was filmed several months earlier and I had been called in as part of a focus group to give my opinion as a local businessman who was accustomed to making business trips.
My ‘bit part’ was enough to make me intensely interested in how the show would appear once it had been edited. It was always possible that I would end up on the cutting-room floor and not even appear. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Aside from me, the focus group consisted of a bride-to-be and her mother plus two Polish tourists. Our task was to give our opinions on the website and hotel rooms. After that, we all gathered around to give our impressions directly to the hotelier, Joseph Louei.
Filming the show was incredibly interesting. The production team from Plymouth-based Twofour Productions was great. Professional, unobtrusive and friendly. I was little nervous about being in front of the camera as I’d never done it before. How wrong I was. The production team put me at my ease and within seconds, I’d forgotten they were there. The presenter, Alex Polizzi was charming. She put me at my ease instantly and we were chatting like old friends in no time. I liked her straight-shooting style and we developed an easy rapport that helped me talk freely about what I thought of the room decor.
What Did I Think of the Room?
Well, it was meant to be a bedroom for the weary travelling executive. I was expecting to see a contemporary-styled room with good quality furniture, easy access to power points and perhaps a desk or table where I could place a laptop. What I saw was an enormous bed with a canopy and heavy chintzy drapes. Rouched bedding and a generally cluttered room. There was a table but I felt it was too small to be used practically. It was lovely and clean, and everything seemed new and in good condition, but it did not feel right for an executive traveller. What should have been a neutral touch felt more fluffy and feminine. Might suit some, but not me. It offended my designer’s eye. As I said to Joseph Louei during our discussion: he needed to apply the designer’s rule of thumb, “less is more”.
After that day’s filming, I was flattered to be asked to return a few months later. I was even more flattered to see that I was the only member of the focus group to have been asked back. Maybe I wouldn’t be edited out after all! I was to give my opinion on a newly-redesigned executive bedroom. The difference couldn’t have been clearer. What was fussy and old-fashioned had been transformed into an example of contemporary, relaxed comfort. The colour palette used was easy on the eye, everything was practical and of a high quality and I could easily imagine myself staying there. Clearly, some of the lessons from the focus group feedback had been learned.
The Next Steps
There is so much more ground to cover. I’ll be talking about the incredible achievement made on broadcast night, as well as the business lessons, comedy moments and implications for the city in a separate article very soon. For now, if you watched the show, let me know what you thought in the comments area below.
To find the best Plymouth hotels read the Plymouth Hotel Guide.