mon 26/08/2019

Inside the Ritz Hotel, ITV review - glitz and glam, but no detail | reviews, news & interviews

Inside the Ritz Hotel, ITV review - glitz and glam, but no detail

Inside the Ritz Hotel, ITV review - glitz and glam, but no detail

Celebrity-packed documentary is all about the presentation

Service with a smile: Staff of the Ritz hotel

Should the Ritz catch up with modernity? This question is posed and immediately answered with another question: Does it need to? Not really, say the staff, clients and celebrity guests that populate this bubbly, formulaic and unashamed celebration of what is, rightly, a gorgeous and historic venue. Sticking tight to tradition and celebrating it – with the help of some very famous talking heads – is what is on offer in ITV's latest show. But viewers in search of history, intrigue, scandal, or an insight that slides even an inch beneath surface description will not find it in this overtly promotional documentary.

The best description of the Ritz’s identity still comes from its founder, César Ritz, by way of the golden rules he dealt to his employees: “See all without looking; be attentive without being servile; anticipate without being presumptuous.” Aside from a couple photos from the early days, that’s about all the history we get. We quickly meet the lovely head concierge Michael de Cozar, who demonstrates the golden commandments with flair, offering free taxi rides and chauffeurs for customers. In his lustrous performance of immaculate service, he has no time left to tell us about the hotel’s past, or how it has changed in the 46 years since he started working there. It is in this way that the talking heads all function too narrowly, solely as exalted consumers. What this show lacks, surprisingly, are a few sober, bespectacled academics with facts and expertise to dispense.Inside the RitzSome fun moments do arise from the celebrity sound bites. Who would have known that the footballer Mo Salah was a regular? Disciples of the Liverpool striker might be excited to know that his coffee of choice is an espresso macchiato. I was enthused to hear about his first trip to the Ritz when, stumped by the lavish décor and imposing chandeliers, he was too shy to make his request, settling instead for “normal coffee”. Shame the staff didn’t anticipate that one happening.

Anna Wintour is another Ritz regular. True to style, she likes the privacy and anonymity the hotel offers, and the fact that the staff, at her demand, removed all of the pictures from the wall of her room. Then there’s Richard E. Grant, so excited to be there that he flops playfully onto his bed like it’s his own bouncy castle (“That’ll do me!”). Head chef John Williams, who has earned the hotel a Michelin star, is a change of tone: dedicated, steadfast, as well as being soothingly jocular. We briefly meet his hardworking team of chefs and learn of their perfectionist approach to pastry making. But where is the behind-the-scenes scoop? The dinner service rush? Unfortunately, we are held at the gates.

The moments that make up Inside the Ritz Hotel are all too brief and scant, despite the fun they exude. The Ritz appears as what we know it to be: glamour, service, and the sheen of presentation. For anything deeper, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

What the show lacks are a few academics with facts and expertise to dispense

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Average: 2 (1 vote)

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