As part of new Travel Channel show Jenny Powell’s Luxury Uncovered (9pm, October 23), the cheeky Loose Women presenter has just carried out one of the furthest luxury trips of all time.
Powell’s travelled 50,000 miles around the world, to places including Cape Town, Siberia, Abu Dhabi and Sorrento and stayed in five, six and seven star properties. She slept in the finest suites, frolicked on mega yachts and rode the luxury Trans-Siberian Express. Not a bad job eh? But there’s a twist.
In order to experience this decadence and opulance she must also experience what goes into making each place run. In each episode she’s delivered a box. In the box there’s a prop or uniform, hinting at her next job behind-the-scenes. She has to carry out tasks from weighing peas in the kitchen to painting gold leaves on the roof of the Emirates Palace.
We catch up with Jenny for for more on her upstairs downstairs adventure…
What was the most extravagant hotel you stayed in?
It has to be Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi – it’s one of the only seven-star resorts in the world, there aren’t many. I was in the presidential suite there; I couldn’t be in a rulers suite because I’m not a head of state. So I was demoted to a presidential suite, which is where Tony Blair had to stay because he wasn’t a head of state.
The whole hotel itself has six thousand square meters of 24-carat gold leaf on the ceiling, which is bizarre. My suite had four butlers who were at my beck and call all day and all night, which was really embarrassing because I was like: “Err, it’s only me”.
The bedroom itself was bigger than my house. The bathroom was silver-plated, there were silver plated sinks, silver taps, silver baths. I had Swarovski crystals chandeliers. I had a stateroom where I ate dinner for one but had a table for 16 people. I had two lounges… and no mates. I felt a right prat. So that was the grandest, that was the one where I felt very small and very insignificant.
Visit Abu Dhabi with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details
What kind of holidays do you usually take?
With the children I’m more of an adventurer. We’ve done things like stay at a log cabin at Woodstock upstate New York, and got bikes and went hunting for bears, running round in creeks and getting the raft out.
So you’re more likely to go camping than stay in a luxury hotel?
I’d probably go camping. I don’t need to do the luxury now because I’ll be saying “Oh no, I’ll leave that for when I got to work”.
What was the most bizarre job you had to do throughout the series?
I had to help to gold leaf the ceiling at the Emirates Palace. I was on a scaffold with the resident gold-leafer. There’s a team of six of them, they work on it 24/7, because gold leaf doesn’t last forever. It’s constantly re-leafed because they’re near the sea and there’s all sort of toxins in the air. Gold’s a very pure thing but it doesn’t last on these ceilings. I kept on breaking the leaf – I must have cost them a fortune because I kept mucking it up.
Also, I was outside on a super yacht; and the windows have got to be cleaned, due to the salt water. It’s £120,000 a week for eight people to sit on it and you’ve got six staff to for eight people. Nice! As part of my role, I had to go and clean all the windows on the yacht, you have to swing off the side of the boat, in a harness, over the sea and get on with it.
Which of the 45 jobs you tried was the hardest?
I’m so clumsy and I’m impatient, I’m not very meticulous or dexterous so I found it really difficult to work in the kitchen. At Gleneagles [in Scotland] I had to work with the head chef there and he didn’t suffer fools. There is a specific code of conduct and I was trying to be funny and cheeky and it didn’t go down well at all. We actually fell out. I was pulling faces because he asked me to weigh the peas for his amuse-bouche. They were in little shot glasses with all sorts of other things going on the top and he was like “it has to be three grams.” I’m like, “look that’s 3.2,” “No three grams Jenny”. I pulled a face and I got told off big time.
Visit Scotland with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details
Would you rather live upstairs or downstairs?
Oh it’s got to be downstairs, you’ve only have to watch Downton Abbey and you know it’s all going on downstairs. I don’t think I’m above my station. I know where I’m supposed to be – under that bell waiting for it to ring, definitely.
Watch Jenny Powell’s Luxury Uncovered at 9pm, October 23 on Travel Channel