Hotel GB sees two groups of famous names running the Bermondsey Square Hotel in London for one week, with paying guests. By the end of the week, the stars hope to have landed their unemployed trainees full-time jobs while raising cash for The Princes Trust and hospitality charity Springboard in the process.
Ahead of the official opening, we were invited along to a tour of the hotel, giving us full access to the celebrity staff and a chance to find out what they think about the current state of the UK hospitality industry, and what they hope the show will do to help it.
Follow the behind-the-scenes tour in this BigHospitality podcast as we speak to Ramsay, Portas and Wan along with the other big names working at Hotel GB for the rest of the week.
At the door we were greeted by the hotel’s new concierge Kirsty Allsop along with co-general manager Mary Portas, who’s also in charge of the reception and the spa area.
The ‘Queen of the Shops’ revealed that she wants the hotel to be a beacon for good service in the UK, which she says has still got plenty of room for improvement.
We then headed into a very busy Hotel GB restaurant which is being run by none other than the world-renowned Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay.
As last night’s episode showed, things in the kitchen didn’t get off to the best of starts, but Ramsay told BigHospitality that he does think the show will promote the potential available to young people working in hospitality.
Next, a short walk over to the Hotel GB bar, which is being headed up by Gok Wan.
Having grown up in a restaurant, the TV fashionista is relishing the opportunity of going back to work in the hospitality industry.
From the ground-floor bar we headed up to one of the top-floor suites of Hotel GB, where we found Kim Woodburn putting on her rubber gloves to take on her new role as head of housekeeping.
Woodburn, who’s best known for presenting How Clean is your House?, revealed that she thinks cleaners in hospitality businesses are perhaps not getting the respect they deserve.
She also believes that the show will serve a dual purpose; giving unemployed people their first break in the industry, and raising funds for The Princes Trust and Springboard.
We then took a trip over to the Hotel GB Spa where we met manager Katie Piper. The former model and television presenter was the victim of an acid attack in 2008 which left her with a severe facial disfigurement.
But she overcame that adversity and has since founded The Katie Piper foundation and appeared in the Channel 4 Documentary My Beautiful Friends. We asked Piper if she’d be running the spa and salon any differently than she would her own business.
Finally, running the Hotel GB shop is Dragon’s Den star Hilary Devey, who’s selling a range of merchandise ranging from T-Shirts and mugs to high-end doggie paraphernalia. But, with her business under the microscope, we asked the Dragon if she feels intimidated.
Yesterday, BigHospitality reported that the celebrity staff of Hotel GB also hope that the show will set a precedent for hospitality businesses to help tackle youth unemployment by taking on more apprentices of their own. Read that full report here.