The Hotel series finale tonight and Mark struggles to cope with the Christmas rush!

by Lisa McGarry

With the summer over, Channel 4 returns to The Hotel for a special final episode as manager Mark and the team tackle the biggest event in their first year at The Grosvenor: Christmas. ‘Christmas is a bit like a wedding,’ says Mark, ‘there is no second chance. If something terrible goes wrong, you’ve ruined someone’s Christmas.’

Things get off to a bad start when the bargain bin Christmas decorations fail to transform the hotel into the anticipated winter wonderland.

‘Ideally we want them to go ‘Ah, this is like Santa’s grotto!’… but we can’t afford it, so they’ll have what they get,’ says Mark.

With all the guests due to descend on the hotel at the same time, Mark is heavily reliant on Reservations Manager Alison to run a smooth check-in. But on the busiest arrivals day of the year, Alison phones in sick, leaving Mark to run things alone. The result: numerous guest complaints and Mark having to employ his ‘famous’ salesman skills to persuade them that the hotel entertainments package more than makes up for the less than perfect room allocation.

Christmas guests include John and Sally, who’ve cooked and served a meal for the Queen and can’t help comparing the standards at the Grosvenor to the luxury lifestyle they’ve been exposed to. Also checking in are two solo travellers, Bill and Ruth, who’ve both been recently widowed and are spending Christmas at the hotel so as not to be alone over the festive period.

Mark is also on his own this Christmas following the collapse of his second marriage, but rather than dwell on his circumstances, he’s determined to create the perfect Christmas for everyone at the hotel. On Christmas morning Mark remembers that vegetarians don’t eat turkey. A one-man wild goose chase ensues around the corner shops of Torquay but fails to produce even a quorn sausage. In the middle of preparing the most important meal of the year, Mark demands head chef Ron conjures up a nut roast.

But no sooner has one nut roast been served, than all the guests are asking for one, causing chaos in the kitchen and leaving Mark run ragged. The festive period continues with a New Year’s Eve bash as Mark and Alison reflect on their ‘nightmare’ first year at the Grosvenor and conclude that their greatest hope for 2012 is to still be there in 2013…

Tonight, Channel 4, 26th February 2012 8pm