BBC cameras spent a year filming behind the scenes at Claridge’s, gaining an insight into how the 1% live. The hotel employs over 400 members of staff to cater to the every whim of its moneyed guests, and Inside Claridge’s witnessed just how much work goes into ensuring visitors enjoy their stay at the billionaire’s Travel Inn.
Take the Japanese Britney Spears who, along with her 35-strong entourage, touched down in the five-star hotel for a month, demanding a Jacuzzi in her suite. Acquiescing to these kinds of divaish demands are just part of the day-job for Claridge’s staffers, and the exclusive Brook Penthouse had its bath ripped out and a Jacuzzi installed without so much as a mild grumble from management. Money talks, and if a rich Japanese popstar who can’t be bothered with long-term financial planning wants to plonk a Jacuzzi in an already-luxury suite then she bloody well can. What recession?
Foreign royalty in the form of a harem of women booked out the entire third floor, though there was no guarantee they would arrive. Even so, despite the threat of a last-minute cancellation, Claridge’s staff altruistically converted bedrooms into cloakrooms and dining rooms so that the royals wouldn’t have to mingle with the other, more ordinary, guests. Naturally, male workers and alcohol were forbidden on the floor for the duration.
Most members of staff toed the ‘we’re not jealous of these obscenely rich guests’ party line, but refreshingly Tita, an evening room attendant (a cleaner) believes that while the celebs and royalty she serves are financially rich, ‘ordinary’ people like the rest of us lead richer lives in general, as we have ‘liberty’ and don’t need bodyguards.
Claridge’s is renowned for its art deco décor, and it even has a lift with a 115-year-old clock and its own sofa, but are these quirks really enough to justify splashing out tens of thousands of pounds a time to stay there?
The figures are astounding to us ordinary Joes: rooms cost up to £6,700 per night, while over 1,000 lobsters and 60,000 bottles of champagne are consumed per annum. People who cough up £5,100 per night for the piano suite even get a personal butler thrown in, like something out of Downton Abbey.
Speaking of Downton, the hotel has its own ‘fashion artist in residence’, David Downton, who gets to stay 52 nights a year in exchange for a few drawings.
Nice work if you can get it.