This series of The Savoy (ITV) follows the hotel’s reopening after lockdown. Gordon Ramsay, already running the Savoy Grill, was launching a new venue, The River Restaurant. He doesn’t do any cooking in it (despite wearing chef’s whites on opening night) but he’s the owner. “This may be one of the most exclusive addresses but it’s also one of the most expensive f—ing rents. So, yes, I want it f—ing right,” he said, with customary charm.
In the run-up to the VIP opening, Ramsay sat down to a tester meal of lobster and was displeased to find that the very big plates didn’t leave room for much else on the very small table. This would seem to me to be the fault of whoever bought the plates and the tables, but Ramsay gave everyone both barrels anyway. “That is bulls—. This is a clusterf—. Clusterf—-. I want to f—ing shoot myself. I feel like f—ing Kitchen Nightmares has come to the f—ing Savoy.”
Do viewers still lap up this stuff? Broadcasters seem to think so. But it was a blessed relief to spend time with the hotel’s more gracious staff, including its beautifully turned out general manager, Franck Arnold, and its suave restaurant director, Thierry Tomasin. The star of the show, though, is Sean Davoren, “guest experience manager”, who rushes around and acts as the hotel’s biggest cheerleader.
This episode illustrated the limits of applying a fly-on-the-wall format to a hotel such as this. We saw Sean and his underling of him, Michael, buzzing around the Royal Suite, which a family had booked – along with 60 other rooms – for a wedding party. This represented £250,000 worth of business, we were told. Yet these super-wealthy guests clearly didn’t wish to be involved in the TV show, so we never saw a glimpse of them. Instead, we had to make do with scenes of Sean and Michael tiptoeing around outside.
And the guests who were willing to be filmed were either ordinary folk celebrating anniversaries, in whom the producers had no interest, or a pair of OTT fashionistas who were clearly delighted to be on TV with their clothes-wearing chihuahua. Oh, and Christopher Biggins was down in the Savoy Grill, regaling Strictly’s Shirley Ballas with tales of eating kangaroo testicles on I’m a Celebrity. But the staff treated them all as VIPs, which is exactly what a five-star hotel should do.