Hotel Hell, "Murphys Hotel" (or Kitchen Nightmares: Super Sexed Up Frat Hotel Edition)

Quick Take: Hotel Hell, "Murphys Hotel"
"Are you the man with the G-string?" – Gordon Ramsay

hotel hell - murphys hotel

Review: Hotel Hell, "Murphys Hotel"
I've had a lot of fun over the years with Gordon Ramsay-centric reality productions such as Kitchen Nightmares and Hell's Kitchen, so I thought it only right and proper that I give his foray into bludgeoning struggling hotel owners with tough love and business savvy a go.

And in fact it was clear by the time the preview/teaser segment was over that Hotel Hell is essentially Kitchen Nightmares: Hotel Edition, and throw in a sexed up opening theme (see the tiger, ooh!).

In "Murphys Hotel" we get a historic hotel in Northern California that is going to seed in the hands of several lazy, hard drinking dudes. According to the staff, they are more interested in lap dances than running a tight hotel ship. So perhaps Hotel Hell is actually going for more of a Kitchen Nightmares: Super Sexed Up Frat Hotel Edition.

But essentially the format is exactly the same as the restaurant-based iteration: Ramsay investigates the establishment, pretends to be surprised by various failings that he encounters, and then berates and menaces the owners for a bit. At that point, after he's broken down his lessers, boot camp-style, he may then begin the business of righting the operation, before eventually returning things back to some semblance of shipshape and Bristol fashion (as dearly departed Lane Pryce of Mad Men fame might say).

By far my favorite moment of the episode is when Ramsay refers to the food in the hotel restaurant as not fit for a dog's dinner. That catch phrase is always the first that comes to mind when I think about canon of Gordon Ramsay's televised works.

Overall, the slightly expanded scope of Hotel Hell allows Ramsay to run through the best of Kitchen Nightmares – going through mold-infested walk-in freezers, exasperation with the quality of the food and menu at the hotel restaurant – while also getting to spotlight things like hotel guests not knowing how or where to check in while the bar is in full swing.

Beyond its owners or Gordon Ramsay's presence, the culture around Murphys Hotel is strikingly odd. It's a historic bed-and-breakfast type establishment in a sleepy-looking Northern California town… that seems to attract a party hardy, drink-hard-or-go-home clientele. Of course, this attitude is wildly encouraged by the Guy Dudebro (hat tip: The Adam Carolla Show) triumvirate that runs the joint. Pretty funny that even the staff refers to Murphys Hotel as the owners' "personal frat house."

One of the three owners, Brian Gross, eventually agrees to step up, stop the partying, and run the joint as the single leader and general manager. This prompts a heart-to-heart and pep talk with Ramsay, and produces an invigorated and motivated Gross.

Like Kitchen Nightmares, Murphys gets a full renovation and it does look quite good. And thankfully the presidential suite (which boasts the historical stay of President Ulysses S. Grant) no longer looks like the room that Alex lived in circa Grandma's Boy. And Ramsay layers in a wine tasting menu into the restaurant's offerings.

One major difference between Hotel Hell and Kitchen Nightmares is that Hotel Hell does not feature a sequence in which the restaurant/establishment tries out and typically struggles early on with Ramsay's radical changes. That actually makes Kitchen Nightmares a bit more interesting as with Hotel Hell we get Ramsay doing his bulldog/bulldoze thing, establishing a bunch of changes, and then we simply get a super quick montage update of, "Oh, there's a whole new outlook now!" segment at the end of the hour.

More thoughts on "Murphys Hotel":

  • The lack of an apostrophe in "Murphys" had me irritated from the jump, even if the town in California is spelled that way. Not an excuse, says I.
  • Have to dig the way that Ramsay says vin-YARDS, yes?
  • What's up with the scene where we Gordon Ramsay in the shower with his naughty bits blurred out? 
  • By Eric - TV Geek Army "Revered Leader"

    About the author

    Eric is the publisher and revered leader of TV Geek Army… at least in his own mind. TV Geek Army is a place for serious TV reviews and news for serious fans of great television. Contact: eric-[at]-tvgeekarmy.com 

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