TV Reviews

Instant Hotel is perfect for binging

With gorgeous properties and ordinary people who think themselves experts because they once read half a chapter of an e-book on property development while waiting for their washing to dry, there’s little not to enjoy about Instant Hotel


Hosted by Luke Jacobz with Judge Juliet Ashworth


Instant Hotel, originally broadcast on the Seven Network in Australia and distributed internationally by Netflix, has a first season fairly similar in format to British institution Come Dine With Me. It’s a show that one starts watching ironically, rolling their eyes at the various characters on show, but gradually get incredibly and irreversibly invested.

So just what is Instant Hotel about? And what is an instant hotel anyway?

Thank you for asking. I shall tell you. Stop fidgeting, please.

Well, truthfully, there’s likely very little actually “instant” about any of these hotels, considering the sheer amount of effort that has been put into each of these properties. Really, they’re just Airbnbs, but the show clearly can’t use the name of the app and has instead literally created its own title that lacks even an urban dictionary definition, let alone one that is approved into Webster’s.

Instant Hotel has two rounds. The grand prize on offer is a trip to an instant hotel famously rumoured and perhaps maybe owned by possibly a celebrity-esque sort of a person. In each of the two rounds, five couples judge each other’s instant hotels on the following criteria: the house itself, the location and attractions, how good a sleep they achieved that night, and value for money. Each couple gives each other’s house a score out of 10 on the basis of these scores which are then added together, along with the opinion of expert judge Juliet Ashworth (who genuinely seems to serenely float through the programme like some sort of omniscient and untouchable deity).

The winner of each round then progresses through to the final, where they must prove that they have taken on board the feedback received from their guests and adapted their offered experience accordingly. In a twist – because who doesn’t love a twist – each instant hotel owner also gives their guests a score. It’s labelled strangely politically as a “sharing economy”, but essentially enables the pettier (and far more entertaining) couples to engage in the time honoured tradition of “playing the game”.

The appeal of Instant Hotel, as with any Reality TV competition really, are always for the little dramas that spring up like particularly tenacious weeds as some contestants constantly complain, or try to poison the minds of the other participants, or secretly turn in lower scores while pretending to be nice to everybody’s faces. Some participants even seem to struggle with maintaining their composure when presented with rather harsh criticism – of which there is a lot – which is always a delight to view. One review involves a play on words of the instant hotel’s name “Class Act” and a rather crude allusion to a human posterior. I’ll let your capable mind join the dots, but such cutting, acerbic, no-holds-barred reviews is what one would expect from a contestant who is in the top 1% of TripAdvisor.

Tension generally arises when people talk up their property, but it severely disappoints, or they claim that they are in a city when they are quite a sizeable distance from it. Some contestants complain about walking to entertainment, or an extra cleaning fee, despite the fact that their own property possesses the same pratfalls. There’s bitchiness to the extreme, and everybody thinks they’re the classiest thing since the Met Gala.

Prepare yourself for adjectives such as “unique”, “colourful”, “elegant” and “modern” to be used on a cycle, making you wish that the participants had decided to avail themselves of a thesaurus before enrolling. There’s also the heart-shatteringly frustrating moments where properties get severely underscored and you can only gape in frustration as you wonder how an apartment that could politely be termed a pimpery could outperform a huge, sprawling estate with a pool which, sure, used to be the site of a cult but isn’t anymore so it’s really not that big a deal. Much fanfare is also made when contestants end up sleeping close to their own instant hotel and the other contestants feel like they’re being spied upon, even though quite a few of them do the same thing and still find time to criticise the others for it.

Also prepare for the one gay couple (there are clearly other gays in the show too because #propertydevelopment but also #dontaskdonttell) to have the tagline “fussy couple” compared to the straight couples being termed “highschool sweethearts”, “newlyweds” and “loved-up couple” because, seemingly, the Seven Network have yet to learn the meaning of microaggressions.

Ultimately, it’s a brilliant escape and wonderfully diverting watching experience, that can comfortably rattle away a good day of your life. With incredibly varied and beautiful properties, and larger-than-life characters, Instant Hotel is simply exquisite. Or at least the first season is. Maybe give the second one a miss.

Instant Hotel is available to watch on Netflix.

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