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'Hotel Hell' Fails to Save The Cambridge Hotel

August 21, 2012 at 11:07 AM | by | ()

While Juniper Hill Inn, the first hotel featured on Gordon Ramsay's Hotel Hell was poorly managed, a bit of an eyesore in some parts and bleeding money, it now looks like a comfy country inn compared to the historic Cambridge Hotel in upstate New York.

The 16-room hotel was bought in 2007 by ex-military man John Imhof and his wife Tina who had no prior experience with running a hotel. Yet while they are only a few years into ownership, the hotel looks like it hasn't been decorated since, well, ever. It's just got a hodgepodge of stuff lying about, most of it creepy items and as Gordon says, "The place is littered with freaky pictures."

Inside the rooms is even worse with garish floral wallpaper, mismatched floral linens with holes in them and a scary doll collection. These go for about $105 during the week, $145 on the weekend. Guests complain of dirty towels with hair on them, uncomfortable beds and broken locks. Downstairs the restaurant is serving meat boiled in bags and apple pie that's been microwaved. This coming from a hotel that boasts about being the birthplace of pie a la mode on the hotel sign!

Topping it all off is the ghost of a four-year old girl Alice who died at the hotel in 1913. Eeee!

Can Gordon really save this place? Well, we kind of ruined the surprise last week when we found out that the hotel actually closed in June but now we're going to find out why the place didn't make it.

Clearly the problem lies with the stubborn owner John who is a micro-manager or as Gordon calls him, "a little f*cking Hitler." So Gordon goes about trying to show John the error of his ways, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife Tina who has been distraught that both their parents and children have put their own money into the hotel and the couple is even considering selling their house to save the hotel.

First up Gordon gathers the hotel guests and they tick off their issues. Then Gordon has a big revelation of his own--the hotel's front door is never locked. And right next to the front door is the reception desk where duplicates of every hotel room key are hiding in plain sight. Everyone is flabbergasted. Gordon is even more outraged at John for this negligence.

After exploding on John, Gordon goes to the hotel's general manager Brittney and asks her what she would do to drum up some business. Brittney decides on a Bar Night with drink specials and begins hitting the phones and spreading the word. Later that night, while guests pour into the bar to drink up (the bar rakes in $1,400 in one night, more than the weeks before combined), Gordon takes John up to the roped off third floor of the hotel--where John and Tina will live once they sell their house--and forces him to sit and think about what he's doing here.

Gordon is hoping that sitting on a dilapidated couch in an attic space that's in shambles and inhabited by a creepy manequinn will help him come to his senses. But just in case, he's also sent along John's oldest daughter to drive the point home. Luckily for us, Gordon's plan works.

The episode then moves quickly as Gordon shows off the improvements. To start, the front door gets a working lock. Upstairs, he and his team have put in all new linens in every guestroom from The Company Store as well as new bedroom furniture, a new hardwood floor and yet, he decided to keep the garish wallpaper.

The restaurant which was forced to save costs on food by boiling frozen meats in bags and using the microwave to heat up apple pies, undergoes a mini-makeover as well with the apple pie a la mode turning into the star of the restaurant. Gordon brings in a new ice-cream maker and uses local sourced cream.

This change actually brings the poor prep cook Scooter, who wants to be a pastry chef and run his own bakery, to tears. (Gordon later gives Scooter his email address and promises to help put him through college and make his pastry chef dreams come true. And all Gordon wants in return is a loaf of bread. We're seriously crying right now.)

All in all, the episode ends with everyone happy--the guests are enjoying the food, the rooms look like quality, the owners have saved their marriage, Scooter is going to college! and John has realized he needs to "stay optimistic but not involved." So what happened?

According to a note at the end of the show, a bank foreclosed on the hotel and it shut down in June. Given that the Imhofs lost about $600,000 during their first two years running the property, it's not that surprising. If only Gordon has done this hotel three years ago, maybe things could have worked out better for the Cambridge. Meanwhile, Scooter is still working hard at catering college. So something good did come out of this episode.

Next week, Gordon takes on The Keating in San Diego!

Archived Comments:


I've never understood this.  Ghosts don't exist, or there would be obvious proof of it.  It's not like the existence of supernatural forces would be relegated to being found out by the one lonely drunk creeping around in the middle of the night.  So it's obviously a marketing move, but why do it?  It's such superstitious hokum, I can't imagine the story of being haunted actually driving room revenue.

These sort of silly stories baffle me.... why waste your time on something that cannot be proven, anger potential guests like me who think it's just stupid, and freak out those types of guests who believe in that stuff?  Does not compute.

Bad hotel or bad marriage?

I'm not surprised this Cambridge Hotel ended up foreclosing considering they were in debt 700,000, and I hope that wasn't just the cost of purchasing the hotel.  The episode was very entertaining though, aside from the naked Ramsay that was totally gratuitous.  My Dish coworker and I started watching Gordon on MasterChef, and now I'm ashamed to say I'm hooked.  Now that I have four shows to choose from with Ramsay, I can watch them all in the morning because the Auto Hop feature lets me watch commercial free on PrimeTime Anytime recordings.  That time I save without commercials means I can get out of the house and to work on time while still seeing the recent hotel debacle, and talk about it at work too.`

The General Manager

What happened to the general manager of the Cambridge Hotel ? Did the owner go back to his law practice ?