A Hotel for the Super Rich and Famous
I’m not super rich or famous, but I’ve met a few people who are, and I’ve met quite a few of them at London’s Corinthia Hotel. (The staff are terribly discreet, and never comment on my pauper’s clothing. Fabulous toilets, too.)
A night in one of the Corinthia’s penthouse suites will set you back anything up to £20k a night – and some guests stay for six months so, as its predominantly American clientele would say: do the math.
Award-winning filmmaker Jane Treays spent 12 months in the hotel making this fly-on-the-wall documentary (there aren’t actual flies on the walls, obviously – not at those prices), interviewing everyone from the bellhop to celebrity guests like Cuba Gooding Jr and Will.i.am. (The latter revealed that he leaves a complete wardrobe in different hotels around the world, explaining: ‘I don’t travel with clothes.’)
The real star of the show, though, is German general manager Thomas Kochs, who appeared in Treays’ previous series, Inside Claridge’s. A stickler for details, Thomas is never happier than when ruling on whether the stripes on the cup should be aligned with, or at right angles to, the stripes on the saucer.
At one point, he took a meeting with a ‘future trends’ company, whose suggestions of ways to create ‘planned experiences’ included making the lifts break down (in order to ‘spark a conversation’) and surprising guests by popping a live philosopher in their bed. I don’t think we’ll be hearing from them again.
‘Luxury,’ explained Thomas, ‘isn’t something you can touch. Spending time together can be more the luxury than the size of the room.’ Though I couldn’t help thinking he knew, and we knew, that spending time together in a Travelodge probably doesn’t feel quite so luxurious.
In a world of so much want it is, of course, all rather obscene. But the hotel’s 500 staff, comprising 54 nationalities, spoke happily (on camera, at least) about the sense of community - family, even – they’d found within this gilded palace: so close to its rarefied world of mega-wealth, and yet so far from it. I know the feeling.
A rare English language entry in BBC4’s foreign crime drama slot, The Sinner tells the story of a seemingly normal, if slightly suffocated, small town American mom who launches a frenzied, apparently random knife attack during a family day at the beach. Jessica Biel is hypnotic in the lead role, while Bill Pullman’s shabby, eccentric detective gives his scenes the feel of a very dark Columbo reboot. It’s a gripping, if harrowing, depiction of the turbulence that can lie beneath still waters.
Dave’s Advent Calendar
Every night until Christmas, Dave is popping open a window to reveal a short festive treat from its roster of comedy talent. With 24 in total, it’s a predictably hit and miss affair, the best so far being Kerry Godliman trying (and failing) to teach Romesh Ranganathan how to receive presents non-sarcastically, and the ever wonderful Rachel Parris’s contemporary rewrite of The Night Before Christmas (‘The stockings were hung over the PS4 / and Cadbury’s Heroes were strewn on the floor…’).
Published in Waitrose Weekend, December 6, 2018
(c) Waitrose Weekend