The last time Gordon Ramsay checked in to a low-end, lice-ridden, lowdown hotel that no self-respecting rageaholic would be caught dead in, he didn't blow a gasket exactly but — well, he did blow a gasket, actually.
Sometimes, though, out of deep anger comes great inspiration, and Hotel Hell is the result.
Hotel Hell — beginning next week on Global and Fox — is Ramsay's bid to do for dodgy bed and breakfasts what his Kitchen Nightmares has done for struggling restaurants: Whip them into shape and hopefully make them better poised to meet customers' expectations.
In the premiere episode, Ramsay applies his exacting standards and demands of excellence — or, if not excellence exactly, something at least approaching competence — to the Juniper Hill Inn in Windsor, Vt., where he immediately clashes with Robert Dean II, the inn's well-to-do and impatient proprietor. Ramsay finds Dean's treatment of staff to be "inexcusable" — which, coming from the head wrangler in Hell's Kitchen, is really saying something.
Ramsay was in a more sedate, diplomatic mood when he faced reporters last week at the summer meeting of the TV Critics Association, but it didn't take him long to get worked up.
"I don't think common sense is that common in these scenarios, because it's so obvious what's wrong," Ramsay said when describing some of the horror hotels he had to endure while making the series. "That's the frustrating part." And hellish hotels don't all charge bed-and-breakfast prices. Some of the worst offenders — Ramsay used a more pithy word — charge prices more like the Ritz.
"I came across hotels that were charging $450 a night, which I think is a lot of money, anywhere, for anyone. There's a level of taking things for granted because we're-in-a-unique-position/we-have-a-corner-on-the-market/ there's-no-one-else-in-Upstate-New-York-so-if-you're-on-your-way-to-skiing-you-have-no-choice-but-to-stay-here gets very annoying after a while.
"I just think when you see a customer being undermined, or shortcuts being taken with the hygiene, it just makes you angry. I mean, if you had a dentist appointment tomorrow morning and you go in for a filling, you will see that the office is absolutely spotless. I think kitchens and hotel rooms should be exactly the same."