The Hotel Inspector Review: Faulty Towers

July 22, 2010 by  
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THE HOTEL INSPECTOR: Thursday 22nd July, Five, 9pm ALERT ME

I’ve lost count of how many times The Hotel Inspector presenter Alex Polizzi is referred to as “award-winning hotelier Alex Polizzi? by narrator Mark Halliley – whose honeyed tones you might recognise from The Apprentice. Hotel Inspector is a bit like Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, but instead of a foul-mouthed chef we’re given the polite Polizzi, who ends every other sentence with “darling?.

The success of Hotel Inspector, like Kitchen Nightmares, is dependent on the person in need of help, and “flamboyant Iranian-born entrepreneur? Joseph Louei is a brilliant protagonist. “I’ve always believed that nobody is perfect…apart from me,? says the eternally humble Louei.

Louei owns the Astor Hotel in Plymouth, whose primary flaws include dated décor, stained carpets and an underwhelming breakfast. Much to award-winning hotelier Alex Polizzi’s disgust, the hotel’s wardrobes are filled with plastic coat hangers, and towels are arranged on beds.

Louei dresses like a Bugsy Malone extra, always complete with trilby hat. He falls somewhere between Al Capone and an Iranian Terry Tibbs. He’s slightly eccentric, the kind of person you might avoid eye-contact with on a bus, and that would inevitably sit down beside you. He’s even named his dog, Astor, after his hotel.

The Astor has been plagued by bad reviews, which Louei attributes to “some bad people? he’s upset. I’m starting to consider the possibility that Louei is at war with Plymouth hotel triads, or another mafia ‘family’. Award-winning hotelier Alex Polizzi almost becomes consigliere to Louei, a Tom Hagen to his Don Corleone. She offers solutions, and plans redecorations; he mumbles like Brando and declines.

Award-winning hotelier Alex Polizzi is not as charismatic, volatile or funny as Ramsay (a key component of Kitchen Nightmares), and she’s limited to making comments that only prompt eye-rolling and groans: “Denial, for [Louei], is definitely a river in Egypt?. Louei is belligerent and defensive and Polizzi’s role is basically that of a negotiator.

Sometimes Hotel Inspector feels like an ad for a puppy shelter. Scenes of a depleted, neglected hotel are tinged with ‘sad music’ and a desperate plea for help. The whacky Jospeh Louei provides the show with its most humorous moments, for example he takes award-winning hotelier Alex Polizzi’s comparison of Astor Hotel to a Travelodge like a kick in the balls: “No,? he says, “it’s not that bad.? In many ways, Hotel Inspector is the Travelodge to Kitchen Nightmare‘s Hilton Hotel.