I had Grand Hotel featured as a recommendation on Netflix, so I went into the series not really knowing much. But let me tell you how pleasantly surprised I was by this little known Spanish Downton Abbey-esque drama. After binging quite quickly through the first two seasons (the final third season has not been added yet), it’s become one of my favorite TV series ever. One, it’s a period drama with the production quality of a Masterpiece Theater/BBC production. Two, it’s romantic. Three, the characters are three dimensional and entertaining (even if at times they are over the top). Four, the writing is engaging with an addictive quality (you can’t just watch one – especially since every episode ends on the strangest cliffhangers). Oh, and did I mention it’s romantic with an explosive chemistry between the two leads similar to that of Leo and Kate?
Grand Hotel tells the story of Julio, a young (and very handsome) man in his 20s who arrives at the hotel after his sister (who worked there as a maid) disappears. He changes his last name and goes undercover as a waiter to investigate what happened to her. Soon, he crosses paths with Alicia, the daughter of the hotel’s owner. She discovers his secret and together they work to uncover the mystery, only to fall in love. Unfortunately, the class divide and the many secrets of her family keep them apart. With murder, mystery, romance, a beautiful setting in the Spanish countryside and more, this series is a must watch!
Besides the charming and attractive leads played by Yon González (who has the appeal of a young Tom Cruise – think Far and Away) and Amaia Salamanca, the supporting players are just as intriguing and fun to watch. You have the manipulative and mysterious hotel owner Doña Teresa, the scheming Diego (who is obsessed with Alicia), the hilarious antics of Alicia’s brother Javier who has a Casanova complex, the sweet Andrés who is in on the secret with Alicia and Julio, the Poirot inspired detective Ayala (one of the episodes even has Agatha Christie make a fabulous appearance) and more. There’s never a dull moment between the upper class family who runs the hotel and the “servants” who work there.
As far as the romance goes, what makes it so refreshing is how fabulously old-fashioned it is. There’s nothing jaded or politically correct about this romance which we often see in a lot of movies and shows these days. The writers fully embrace the love story with amazing scene after amazing scene, episode after episode. There are so many wonderful romantic moments worthy of being rewound I can’t even count. There’s longing looks, hugs, rescues, star-crossed moments of epic proportions, running towards each other on romantic cliffs, etc…And yet, it’s not a cheesy romance. Even with the soapy moments, their story is believably told. Plus, the two leads are charismatic actors with the potential to become full blown movie stars.
But if romance isn’t really your thing, there’s still so much else going on you may still really enjoy it. The Revenge like soapy plots is rather entertaining. Besides the disappearance of Julio’s sister, there’s a serial killer on the loose and numerous other mysteries surrounding the Alarcón family and their hotel that you just have to keep watching to find out. The show is also disarmingly funny with clever, witty dialogue and situational humor especially in scenes with the Detective Ayala and his not so clever assistant, as well as Alicia’s brother Javier who manages to have more lives than a cat.
Now, be forewarned, as I already mentioned there are soapy elements to the show. But once you embrace them you may just discover (like I did) how great this series actually is. The writing is fantastic, the actors some of the best I’ve seen and the romance unforgettable. While it does have some “unbelievable” moments, it really is just part of the style of the show. If you were to take Downton Abbey, Titanic, Romeo and Juliet and Dallas, then put it all in a blender you’d find Grand Hotel.
If you do choose to jump into the series, you should know that since season 3 has not been added yet to Netflix, season 2 does end on a bit of a cliffhanger. So send those messages to Netflix and let them know how much you want season 3! I think if there were more people spreading the word about this great series, they’d have a huge hit on their hands. It really is that addicting and is the type of show Netflix viewers enjoy as it’s a fast binge watch.
In all, I can’t recommend this period drama series enough. If Grand Hotel ever comes out on DVD with English subtitles, I’ll be the first one lined up to buy. For now, you can watch the first two seasons on Netflix. Or if you’re lucky to live in the UK, Sky Arts is currently airing season three.
NOTE: As of November 2016, Grand Hotel is no longer available on Netflix. The first 9 episodes are available on Hulu, however. Let’s hope Netflix brings Grand Hotel back soon!
“The stuff that dreams are made of.”
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.
I have loved none but you.”
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