There are series that give binge-watching a new dimension. Gran Hotel (or Grand Hotel) definitely belongs in that category. Rewind to the beginning of March. I finished the retro serie Land Girls and was looking for another retro serie. So I started browsing and browsing. And browsing some more. Then a picture caught my eye.
It looked like vintage, so I was curious. Then I read the description. A guy goes undercover in a hotel to investigate the disappearance of his sister. Not the most exciting description, but I decided to give it a try. The first few minutes I had to get used to the fact that it was a Spanish serie and the serie started off slowly. But…I decided to give it a try. I wanted to watch two episodes to form my official opinion. Boy, was I wrong at the beginning. I was hooked after the second episode.
The only moment that the story was ‘slow’ was in the beginning. Which is one of the greatest strengths of this serie. So what’s this serie about? Well where should I start…
About the story and most important characters
It’s 1906 and we’re in Santander, Spain. A charming, but poor young man infiltrates in Gran hotel to search for his missing sister. Along the way, he helps to unravel a lot of other mysteries together with a charming young woman, who happens to be the daughter of the widow, an icecold business woman and owner of the hotel. Meanwhile there is a lot going on between the butlers of the hotel and rich family members and partners who take interest in the hotel. A lot of secrets need to be kept one way or another, but… the walls always have ears. Next to that, everyone needs to be careful because murder is around every corner.
The charming, but poor young man
This charming, poor young man starts working at Gran Hotel and helps to unravel mysteries of a charming young woman who happens to be the daughter of the icecold widow of the hotel. Oh and the poor young man falls in love with the rich daughter. Needless to say that he gets into trouble a lot.
The charming young rich woman
That rich young women I talked about earlier is not your typical rich kid. In fact a lot of women in this serie are strong and ambitious. This woman is one of them. She is ambitious and always has her heart (but especially her mind) on the right place.
The icecold widow who owns Gran Hotel
Her mother is quite a different story. She is a widow who owns Gran Hotel. She has a lot of secrets. Let’s just say that she plays dirty games all the time and will do anything to protect what’s her’s.
The confident, but strict head of household
This is another strong woman, but of a different kind. She is strict but righteous. The owner of the hotel is her boss. She tends to go against the big boss in her own confident way while pushing the boundaries. She is also the mother of that sweet butler with his ‘perfect son-in-law’ personality.
The bastard always seems to get away with his uncountable crimes and suspicious activities. Even when I think about this character now that I’ve finished the serie I think: such a bastard.
The forever bachelor
Then we have the forever bachelor who likes a lot of women and a lot of alcohol. Although he seems to have issues when it comes to choosing women. Also he gets caught with a lot of women. But mostly he gets in a lot of trouble with women. He is also the son of the widow who owns Gran Hotel.
The perfect son-in-law & evil daughter-in-law
The ‘perfect son-in-law’ is adorable and such a good friend. Unfortunately he falls for a definitely ‘not so perfect daughter-in-law’. I can already tell you: this will be the understatement of the year. Evil is probably a better way to describe her, but even that is an understatement.
The detective and his questionable assistant
Let’s not forget the detectives in this serie, who have to be around all the time because like I said, there is always someone up to no good in this serie. One detective is really the thinker and wise man The other one is his assistent and quite the opposite. In fact, the assistant wille make you roll your eyes a few times and think: how did he manage to work at the police with his ‘wisdom’. It leads to hilarious scenes.
There are much more characters that I can put in the spotlight, but some episodes and characters you just have to discover for yourself. There is also much more to say about all the characters and the story lines, but some things are to good to tell. You really have to watch it. To summarize it: expect the unexpected, because when you think you know it all: PLOT TWIST. Last but not least, I do have to mention the romance between the poor butler and the rich daughter. A lot of times you will be on the couch sitting and thinking: ‘Don’t get caught, don’t get caught!’ or ‘Will they make it out there in time’. The romance is however an impossible lovestory which has a lot to do with the bastard the daugher was promised to.
So why is this serie so good & addictive?
While at first this serie seems to start like a love story it’s definitely much more than that. In fact, there is more crime than romance. This is also definitely not a serie you should watch half, while cooking for example. If you look away for 3 minutes, you will miss an act of crime right under your nose. So stay focussed…
I was also pleasantly surprised by the acting in this serie. I have never heard of any of the actors and actresses of this serie but they all deserve credit. I would actually compare the acting of this serie with the acting skills in for example Mad Men. All the actors are rightfully cast. I watched this serie (3 seasons, 66 episodes of 45 minutes) in 1 month. And I watched the last season in one week, while working fulltime. That probably says a lot. On the other hand, my netflix bingewatch skills are above average…
Like I’ve mentioned before, this serie has the excitement curve of a thriller, hilarious scenes of a good comedy and crime of a good detective. I’ve read somewhere that this serie was being compared to the Spanish version of Downtown Abbey only faster: “Downtown Abbey on steroids”. Also, I have in fact learned some basic Spanish thanks to this serie.
I also would like to pay some attention to the setting of this serie. You actually want to visit this Gran Hotel that sets in the early 1900s. The building where this serie is set actually looks like a royal castle. The hotel rooms for the upperclass are literally like royal bedrooms you would want in a hotel. Lovely oldfashioned mirrors and furniture. Not to mention the clothing of the characters in this serie. The upperclass ladies have a closet you would definitely want, if you were living in the early 1900s. Even the clothing of the butlers is perfect in vintage style: gentlemen style and they always wear gloves. Gotta love gloves!
Last but not least, Netflix deserves some credit here. While the very short description on the series list was not really convincing, the episodes cut definitely was. This serie was actually made of episodes that lasted 1,5 hour. Netflix cut them in episodes of 45 minutes and BAM: bingewatch alert. In every episode something will happen that makes you want to watch the next episode. I see what you did there Netflix. Smart thinking.
Netflix life after Gran Hotel
This sound dramatic – #firstworldnextflixproblems – but when you finish the show, you will be in an after-netflix dip for three days while thinking: Why only three seasons when you could’ve made seven? Or… 70? You will also definitely stalk your friends because they have to watch this serie. After that you will search for other series and I’ve already selected a few that will ease your pain: Velvet and Las Chicas Del Cable. They are both Spanish series in retro style. Las Chicas Del Cable is new and will premier on Netflix on 28th of April. A few actors of Gran Hotel actually star in Las chicas, so I am really curious! Watch the trailer here.
Have you watched Gran Hotel? And do you agree with my review about Gran Hotel? If you haven’t: stop with whatever you’re watching on Netflix and spend some time in Gran Hotel. You won’t regret your stay!