If you’ve ever been to an hotel that has a mildew sodden carpeted bathroom, or a mirrored ceiling when all you wanted was a sea view, then don’t feel too bad because there is finally a woman prepared to put down her prawn cocktail and stand up, ding the bell on the hotel counter until the poor attendant has medically diagnosed tinitis and shout “this hotel is dreadful, darling.” That woman is Alex Polizzi and she is the equivalent of a Power Loader wielding Ellen Ripley with fresh towels.
The similarities between the two are striking; both have wild manes of just tamed hair, a fiery glint in their eye, and know how to get what they want. Whereas Ripley used whatever firepower was available to her, Polizzi uses her own innate armoury and charms sometimes shit hotel owners into submitting to her iron will. Want to dedicate your business to housing a memoriam of times past (including dismembered doll’s arms)? That’s fine, but don’t expect to survive an encounter with Polizzi with all your limbs intact, because once that woman has set her unwavering gaze on a problem, she won’t stop until that problem has been blasted into space.
Obviously a lot of what is featured on ‘The Hotel Inspector’ (Channel 5, Thursday at 9) is choreographed to create drama (which there’s nothing wrong with), and although long lingering glances of despair might be made up of stock footage of Polizzi listening intently, it’s sort of irrelevant. Whether it’s faker than Lauren Goodger’s face, or shows the stark reality of hoteliering (I have no idea what that word actually is) it doesn’t matter. Setting Alex Polizzi lose on a failing hotel is like diving into battle after you’ve just levelled up; it’s an exhilarating experience that pushes you to the edge of your seat until the inevitable conflict flares up and then you sit back, smug, knowing that you’re never going to see two middle class women have such a passive aggressive argument again.
Everything Polizzi says is followed by a smile. She might be saying that the hotel you’ve ran for forty years is the equivalent of La Cantina and you’re understandably upset, but she’s smiling still. There’s nothing that can be done to wipe the grin from her face, in fact, the more belligerent the owners get, the more Polizzi knows that she’s right, and the wider the smile gets.
It may sound like this is a bad thing, but it’s the exact opposite. Whereas Mary Portas has decided to let her icy facade crack and show us her crying a few times, and Paul Hollywood revels in his Silver Fox status, Polizzi continues to do what she does best: making bad hotels good. And hotels is what she knows well. She’s related to Lord Forte who held a stake in The Savoy as well as bringing Travelodge to the UK. And watching her tackle apprehensive hotel owners right in the balls and shove them to the ground will, hopefully never get old.