After Gordon Ramsay found success with a reality TV series in which he went from failing restaurant to failing restaurant, fixing all their problems, getting them to switch from frozen food to fresh food and have more efficient table service and treat their customers with respect, he decided to do it all over again with a different kind of establishment. This time, he went from failing hotel to failing hotel and fixed their problems. As with all of his shows, Ramsay has had mixed results – some people are just too stubborn to be helped – but it is an entertaining and successful series with a lot of fans. Here are 10 things that you (probably) didn’t know about Gordon Ramsay’s hit show Hotel Hell.
10. The Vienna Inn closed after the show aired
About a year after an episode featuring the Vienna Inn aired in the third season of the show in 2016, the hotel was forced to close. This happens with a lot of the restaurants and hotels that Gordon Ramsay comes in to revitalize and relaunch on his various reality TV series. But this time, it wasn’t for the reason that you might think. Usually, it is because they went back on Gordon’s advice and slip back into bad habits. The hotel had been marred with rumors that it was using its hotel business as a front for being a brothel and that’s why Gordon Ramsay was required to come in and shake things up. When he left, the hotel was thriving in a typically heartwarming and inspiring end to the show that brought everybody together. They didn’t allow themselves to return to any bad habits or go back on any advice that Gordon gave them. On both TripAdvisor and Yelp, the Vienna Inn had a very respectable average score of four and a half stars. The problem was that there was a fire in the hotel and the damage was so bad that the hotel had to shut down because of it.
9. Ramsay knows more about running a hotel than you might think
It might seem unusual that a celebrity chef from TV decided to take it upon himself to start critiquing hotels. Sure, he can give advice to people who own restaurants or people who cook food, but what does he know about hotels? Well, as it turns out, he knows a lot about hotels. He has stayed in a lot of them in his job as a traveling celebrity and he knows bad ones from good ones. He has said in interviews that while he has been on the road to either shoot his TV shows or appear on other people’s TV shows or simply visiting the various restaurants that he owns across the world, he has stayed at “literally thousands” of hotels, so he has gotten a pretty good idea of the do’s and don’t’s. He also owns his own hotel, a little boutique hotel in London in Regent’s Park. So, not only does he know how a good hotel should be run, he also knows how they should not be run, which is equally important. When asked about what is the worst quality of a hotelier, Chef Ramsay answered that it was simply “laziness” on their part. If you’re not lazy, you’re off on the right foot with him.
8. One hotelier called Gordon’s renovations “a major pain in the ass”
While the show might make the hoteliers look as though they are grateful for all the help that Gordon and his team give them in the renovation stages of the show, that is not always the case. When New Mexico hotelier Kelly was featured on the show, she initially told Gordon that she was elated with the $150,000 investment that he made into rejuvenating her establishment. Chef Ramsay himself said that he had “never been happier” with the upgrades made to a hotel on the show, and that if he was Kelly, the owner, he would be “over the moon.” In the years since the episode aired, Kelly has been a little bit more open and honest with her true feelings about these renovations, calling them “a major pain in the ass.” She was mainly unhappy with the extra work that comes along with all of the extra stuff that Ramsay and his guys brought in. Apparently, all the new food and equipment and utilities that the famed chef and his producers provided them with have added an extra hour of work a day that she has decided she can’t be bothered with. Talk about ungrateful. Geez. The woman was given $150,000’s worth of stuff!
7. The innkeeper of the Town’s Inn was unhappy with the hotel’s appearance on the show
Karan Townsend, the innkeeper at the Town’s Inn, which appeared on the show a couple of years ago, has opened up about the effect that appearing on the show actually had on business. Townsend said in an interview following the airing of the episode that while the episode makes it seem like Ramsay came in, shook things up, trimmed the fat, and rejuvenated the whole hotel to make it more successful and run more smoothly, it didn’t stay that way when he left. After coming down for a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Ramsay did not get the full picture of the problems that the hotel was having. Townsend complained that he changed the menu, but didn’t train the chefs in the art of actually cooking all the new dishes. Overall, she was unhappy with how the episode made both her hotel and Ramsay’s involvement look. According to Townsend, one of the legal waivers that the hoteliers featured on the show are required to sign makes them give Ramsay and his producers permission to “distort things for effect” in the editing of the episode. But this is pretty much a standard, straightforward, boilerplate waiver. It’s reality TV, what do you expect?
6. The theme song was first released in 1978
You know that weird theme song that comes at the beginning of some episodes? It doesn’t happen in every episode of the show, but some of them open with a title sequence in which Gordon Ramsay walks through a burning hotel in slow motion while a cheesy theme song plays. The lyrics go like, “Hotel / Hotel Hell / If you think the beer is rotten / You should see the clientele.” Some stretches are made with the words that rhyme with “Hell.” For example, the closing lyrics of the track go like this: “Hotel / Hotel Hell / Bad place to visit and a rotten place to dwell / Hotel / Hotel Hell / Ain’t nothing like there ain’t no parallel.” It seems like every word that ends with an -el or -ell sound was used in the lyrics of this song. One might assume that this corny theme song was written specifically to be used in the show. The song was performed by the band Skyhooks and it wasn’t just written for the show. As it turns out, the song was first released way back in 1978 on the B side of their fourth studio album Guilty Until Proven Insane.
5. Gordon remembers one hotel in particular more than the rest
There have been a lot of crummy hotels featured on this show, and not only that, there have been a lot of stubborn hoteliers who think they’re doing everything right and it’s the customers’ fault that no one’s coming to stay as well. But of all the hotels that Gordon Ramsay has visited during the making of the show, there is one that sticks out in his memory more than the rest, for a multitude of reasons. It was a hotel in San Diego where the owner, some young guy with more money than he knew what to do with, had gotten an interior designer who was a big client of Ferrari to do the place. While it sounds great to have a hotel designed by the same people who design the beautiful sports cars of Ferrari, as Ramsay himself will tell you, it is ultimately impractical. When he asked the owned why he would get a company that designs cars to design a hotel, because they are used to the nuances and practicality of cars and not hotels and you wouldn’t sleep in your car, this guy didn’t have an answer. Suffice it to say, Gordon was not his biggest fan.
4. Gordon knows exactly what can make or break a hotel
Gordon knows exactly the things to look for when he does this show, and which elements can make or break a hotel, because he has stayed in a lot of hotels. The customer is always right, as they say, and Gordon has been a customer a bunch of times, so he knows what customers of hotels want and he can tell hoteliers where they are going wrong, even if they are not ready to hear it. For one, he thinks that customers who have been traveling for a long time and arrive at the hotel with a suitcase full of clothes want a good coat hanger to hang up their clothes in the wardrobe when they get there. He also likes a towel that is big and substantial and soft. He also mentioned things like the way that the bed is made, but his overall point was that it is ultimately attention to detail that can make or break a hotel. If you don’t put in that attention to the little details, then you might as well give up. He says that hotels also need an identity, because that adds warmth. Without their own identity, hotels lose that warmth and become “a cold front.”
3. Gordon owns his own hotel that’s doing just fine
A lot of people are aware of the TV show in which Gordon Ramsay goes around hotels and fixes them up and tells their owners what they’re doing wrong, but not many people know that Gordon Ramsay actually owns his own hotel. And on top of that, it won’t be featuring on his show any time soon, because on top of his TV commitments and all the restaurants he owns, he works hard to keep it afloat. He practises what he preaches. He has his staff members send him reports every single day to make sure that everything is running smoothly and that his businesses are maintaining the quality that he wants them to have. Gordon claims to spend over $100,000 a year sending mystery shoppers and mystery guests to his variety of hotels and restaurants. This keeps his employees on their toes and helps him to ensure that the restaurants and hotels he puts his name on are up to snuff. So, he’s not telling hoteliers to do the impossible. According to Chef Ramsay, customer feedback is the most important thing. If the customers are happy, then he is happy, and if the customers are not happy, then as you might imagine, he is furious.
2. Ramsay thinks that bad hoteliers are worse than bad restauranteurs
It’s fair to say that Gordon Ramsay has had to deal with a lot of terrible and incompetent and inexperienced business owners in his day – both restauranteurs who don’t know what they’re doing and hoteliers who don’t know what they’re doing. So, which is worse? Well, if you ask Ramsay, he’ll tell you that it is the hoteliers who are the worst. That’s because there is no governing body that ensures that only people who are capable of running a hotel are able to do it. If you have enough money to buy a hotel, then you can just buy one and start running it. That’s why there are so many terrible hotels that are failing and need Gordon Ramsay to come down with his camera crew and his endless supply of money to fix the joint up. There is no board that you have to make a case to in order to become a certified hotelier. There’s no such thing. Anyone can run a hotel. Because of this, Gordon is extra cautious when he helps out a failing hotel and has undercover camera operators all over the place to capture secret footage as part of the making of any given episode.
1. Gordon walked out of the hotel in the very first episode
The very first episode of this show took place in Juniper Hill Inn in Windsor, Vermont. Gordon arrived at the hotel and met the staff and the owners and figured out what they were doing wrong that was keeping all of their customers out. That was all pretty standard. But then at the end of the episode, in an unexpected twist, Gordon decided that the Juniper Hill Inn was a lost cause and walked out. He stormed out of the restaurant, got into his SUV, and drove away. This is especially surprising, given the fact that this was the first ever episode of the show. It doesn’t get off to a great start. But he didn’t give up completely. The end of the episode had a title card that said, “To be continued,” and Gordon returned in the second episode to give it another try. So, the pilot episode ended up being the first part of a two parter, as Gordon returned to the Juniper Hill Inn in the second episode and decided to have another go at solving all of their problems and fixing their terrible business practises. In the end, he did refurbish and relaunch the hotel to some success. It just took longer than usual to get there.