Last night’s episode was all about on Valentine’s Day. Love was in the air at Hotel Babylon… as were some truly massive problems.
The episode started with Charlie, in his office, reading a damning review of Babylon’s restaurant from critic Alexander Crawfield (Nathaniel Parker). The review is all the talk of the hotel staff, and is the main topic of discussion at that morning’s staff meeting. But there’s a problem: Emily, the hotel’s new PR manager, is nowhere to be found. The staff joke about what a great job their (absent) PR person is doing. Emily is apparently running late that morning, and just when Charlie is about to get angry at her absence, she bursts through the door. She’s been doing research, you see. She has a gigantic stack of charts, graphs and data – not just about Babylon, but other restaurants, too. Charlie, impressed at her thorough research, temporarily forgets her tardiness… until she proudly announces her “solution” to the restaurant problem: hiring a celebrity chef. Charlie has always been loyal to the staff, and current head chef Adam Price (Jeremy Sheffield) has given the hotel eight years of loyal service (NOTE: mentioned repeatedly in Hotel Babylon the book, but rarely mentioned on Hotel Babylon, the TV show: Charlie got his start in hotel restaurants, so he’s sympathetic to kitchen staff). Charlie dismisses outright the idea of a celebrity chef, and also becomes furious to Emily for arranging interviews with such chefs behind his back. He dismisses the staff meeting, but tells Anna to stay.
Shortly thereafter, a “Lord and Lady Hamilton” check in to the hotel. Ben sees a note that Charlie wanted to be notified when the Hamiltons arrived, so he goes back to the meeting room – where Charlie had been making Valentine’s Day plans with Anna. Well, sort of. He was getting to that point just as Ben burst in to tell them that the Hamiltons had arrived. Charlie, trying to save face, tells Ben that he and Anna were just discussing the Hamiltons, and, to make this point, he “appoints” Anna to be the Hamilton’s “customer service executive”. Anna, needless to say, is pleased:
Anna and the rest of the staff fawn all over the Hamiltons as Charlie has a talk with Adam. It’s obvious that Adam’s in a rut (as it happens with chefs sometimes). Instead of taking the blame and promising to do better, Adam gets teary-eyed as he talks about how he has to support his wife and kids. Charlie says that although they were (are are still) mates, he’s now Adam’s manager and the Adam must do better. Adam continues to whine, thus planting the seeds of doubt in Charlie’s mind.
Meanwhile, a buff and bronzed couple check in to the hotel. Gino is convinced that they’re a “porn couple”. Tony agrees, but Jackie thinks otherwise. Yet another couple check in a few minutes later. The couple appear to be there for Valentine’s Day, but have requested a room with double beds. They are, apparently, “abstainers” and are waiting for their wedding night to have sex.
The hotel instantly fills with buzz as celebrity chef Otto Clark (Alan Davies) suddenly walks through the front door. He is there for a meeting with Emily and Charlie… which Charlie wasn’t aware of. He’s instantly mad at Emily again, for going so far as to actually have Clark in the hotel after he specifically told her that he was sticking with Adam. At the last minute, Emily, in order to save face, offers a proposal: a “cook off”. Both Adam and Otto will make up a range of dishes that the staff will judge. Whomever’s cuisine reigns supreme will get the head chef’s job. Charlie, still livid at Emily, nevertheless sees such a challenge as a good idea. Either Babylon will get a new celebrity chef, or their current chef will get the kick in the ass he needs.
As Charlie meets with Clark, Anna meets with the Hamiltons. She brings them champagne. She offers to swap mattresses for them. She’ll do, apparently, whatever it takes to make them happy – especially if it involves their young and handsome son, Gene. Anna has always been attracted to money, and when Lady Hamilton takes a shine to Anna, she becomes blind to anything else but the Hamiltons and their money.
Next up? The cook-off. And sadly for Adam, it’s simply no contest. Otto Clark’s dishes are greedily wolfed down by the staff, but Adam’s dishes sit there barely touched.
Charlie goes to have the inevitable “talk” with Adam. He doesn’t want Adam to leave, though. Otto Clark is a celebrity chef that is forever appearing on television or going on book tours. Charlie wants Adam to stay, learn from Otto and run the kitchen in his absence. Adam is almost too proud to accept the offer, but feels that he has no other choice.
Geno, still convinced that the bronze couple are in porn, offers a £50 wager to Jackie, who accepts. Geno then uses a hotel computer to search for the couple on porn websites. When he finds a live feed of a couple apparently having sex in one of the hotel’s rooms, he alerts Tony, Ben and Jackie. Sadly, the couple are wearing S&M-style masks, so they cannot be positively identified. Although the bet began as a lark, it’s now serious: Hotel Babylon cannot be known to allow people to film pornography there.
The Hamiltons stop for a rest in the hotel lobby. Lady Hamilton convinces Anna to sit with them, and Charlie spies the group, convinced that Anna is trying to flirt with Gene (she isn’t). He walks over to the couple, tells them that he’ll be their hotel contact, and orders Anna back to the front desk. The Hamiltons get up to go back to their room, but not before Lady Hamilton stops at the front desk and the two have a brief conversation about Anna’s unhappiness with Charlie. To cheer Anna up, Lady Hamilton offers to take her along on her shopping trip the next day. Anna, who loves to go shopping, happily agrees.
The next day, Otto Clark takes over the kitchen. Emily, it seems, has invited restaurant critic Crawfield back to give Babylon another chance. Charlie, as you might guess, is completely gobsmacked that Emily would do such a thing on the new head chef’s very first day. I can’t say that’d I’d argue there. Emily and James then go ’round and ’round over the restaurant’s decor, then where Crawfield will sit that evening. James wants to put Crawfield in the corner, away from the attention. Emily says that the corner is near the kitchen, and that Crawfield hates sitting by the kitchen (remember this detail, it’ll be important later). At the same time, Otto takes over the kitchen just as a new general would take over a battlefield – shouting orders and calling people names. Otto is particularly hard on Adam, so much so that when Crawfield arrives, Adam sabotages Otto by sending out rancid lobster to the restaurant critic. As kitchen staff begin to fall ill, Charlie and Otto figure out that Adam has used the bad lobster, and James is alerted just in time to divert the plates back to the kitchen. Otto has no idea of what else, if anything, Adam has sabotaged, so he starts that evening’s dinner service all over again from scratch. Even Charlie is pressed into service in the kitchen! Of course, doing this takes a lot of time, and the diners (especially Crawfield) are getting angry.
Anna, back from her shopping trip – where Lady Hamilton bought her a £4000 necklace – is over the moon. She dishes with Ben, and eventually makes her way up to the Hamilton’s room to see if there’s anything they need. She knocks on the door, but no one answers. She uses her key card to open the door… only to find the room completely empty. All of the furnishings the hotel has supplied for the Hamiltons during their stay – the fancy widescreen plasma TV set, the jewelry, the luggage, all charged to the room – is gone without a trace. Anna rushes downstairs to see if they’ve checked out. They have not. She tries running their credit card; it comes back as stolen. The Hamiltons, it seems, were con artists, and they’ve just dinged the hotel for almost £45,000.
She finds Charlie, who is, as you might imagine, is unbelievably pissed about it. But he has a bigger problem to deal with first. One of Clark’s knives is missing, as is Adam. Given Adam’s fragile state, staff are afraid that Adam will try something stupid. Emily finds him in a storeroom with a nearly empty bottle of liquor in his hand. Charlie has an impassioned talk with Adam about how there’s always someone who can do something better than you. He tells Adam that he wants him, no, needs him in the kitchen, and how he should use this time during the demotion to get his act together. Adam releases the knife and collapses into Charlie’s arms. Crisis averted.
Otto, Emily and Charlie then rush back to the dining room for a quick photograph with critic Crawfield. As they pose for the picture, Emily thanks Crawfield for doing this, to which he replies “well, anything for my gorgeous goddaughter”. What does that mean exactly? Was the restaurant really awful the first time that Crawfield came, and Emily’s just thanking them for giving the hotel a second chance? Or did Emily plan this entire incident – the bad review, the celebrity chef coming onboard – just to make herself look good? I guess we’ll find out in future episodes.
Meanwhile, Jackie spots Geno, Tony and Ben leaning against a door to one of the guest rooms. The boys have heard moaning and groaning from the room, but the sounds stop just as Jackie leans in to have a listen. The boys decide to settle the question once and for all – by lowering Ben from the roof in a harness, so he can look in the window and see what the guests are up to. Yes, it’s Hotel Babylon’s “shark jumping” moment. Ben is lowered from the roof, and the bronzed and buff woman is shown lifting weights. Just as Been sees this, her husband stands up right at the window (he was lifting a large weight himself) and both the husband and Ben scream (although Ben’s scream is much more girly than the man’s). The couple leave the hotel in a huff, and Tony can’t believe that there was a weightlifting exhibition at Earls Court that he didn’t know about. Oh well – you win some, you lose some. As the crew gather that the front desk to laugh about the incident, the “abstainers” walk through the lobby – and everyone notices the tattoo on the “abstaining woman’s” back – the only identifying mark they could see on the live Internet porn feed.
By this time, Anna has left the hotel. She’s quitting, no matter what Charlie says. Suddenly, who does she see in her path… but Charlie, who knows the way Anna walks home and has taken a shortcut to cut her off. Charlie says that he’ll tell the insurance company that the cons took the necklace, so Anna can keep it (they actually have a long talk back at the hotel before Anna left – about love, life and work – but I’m trying to finish this up). Charlie puts the necklace on Anna and says that she looks beautiful (which she does, of course). The two kiss in Piccadilly Circus… and the camera pulls away to show the London skyline.