What it’s really like to stay in the First Dates Hotel

We asked fashion model Kelly what it was like to be the first guest in Channel 4's hotel for singletons in the south of France


What was your first impression of the hotel?


Stunning. It’s called Le Vieux Castillon and it was built in the 1400s, but it’s been made into the most grand, beautiful, plush hotel. It was the most romantic setting: outdoor swimming pool under thousands of stars, white linen drapes everywhere, four-poster beds. It’s just gorgeous. 

Did you get much time to enjoy it or did the date begin straightaway?

My date was at one o’clock, so I arrived at the hotel in the morning, settled in, got myself ready and then it was straight out to have my date. I was sweating! I don’t know if that was just the excitement of being on the show or just because it was so hot.

Were you aware of the cameras?

When I was in my room getting ready, I could hear them following me around. But as soon as I met Laurence, I forgot [about them] because they’re so small and you’re taking it all in: the hotel, the food, the date. It’s like being in a coffee shop with little cameras darting around; you just don’t notice them. 

Maitre d’Fred Sirieix relaxes by the pool; pictured above: fashion model Kelly and her date Laurence

How was the food?

Really good. The sea bass was big enough for two. Fred diced it in front of us and it was beautiful. I tried snails for the first time. It was so embarrassing because I couldn’t get mine out. Laurence had to lean over and be like: “Let me help you” and scoop my snail out for me. 

What was the highlight?

At the end of our date in the restaurant we met down by the pool and sat underneath the stars, drinking prosecco and just chatting. It was spectacular: stunning scenery and such lovely company.

Were you worried that the cameras in your room would be switched on all night?

The reason why I was happy to do [First Dates Hotel] was the authenticity of it. It’s not staged. You’re not asked to play a certain character. Everyone is so lovely and wants to make sure you have the best experience and are at your most relaxed. You’re not encouraged to get wasted or sleep around. I wouldn’t be on a show like that. 

 Read more: How much does it cost to stay in the First Dates Hotel?

 What was the least romantic thing that happened?

After we’d finished filming our second date on the second day, Laurence and I thought: great, we get to spend the rest of the day without cameras. But we were separated, put in separate cabs and driven to different hotels. We felt like Romeo and Juliet!

So you have to stay in separate hotels after you’ve checked out of the First Dates Hotel?

Yes, you stay in separate hotels the night before and the night after. And I thought they’d put us on separate flights back because we were on the way out. 

So there we were in our separate hotels but he messaged me at night: “Hey, good news: we’re both on the same flight tomorrow, really looking forward to seeing you.” And then, as fate would have it, we were sat next to each other on the plane and Laurence was like: “This is our third date. Let’s get some prosecco.”

Did Channel 4 pay for everything – the flights, the hotel, the meal?

Everything was covered. You were given a certain amount of money a day and if you exceeded that it would come out of your own pocket. We were really looked after.

Are you and Laurence still dating?

When we got home we carried on dating for two months, but he’s been in Thailand for the past seven weeks for work. We’ve been talking the whole time and he gets back this Saturday, so we’ll pick up where we left off, I guess.

Would you like to be the first First Dates bride?

I don’t know about that! I’m not even his girlfriend yet. I’m keeping it very chilled.

And would you do it all again?

100%. I’d definitely recommend it. 

First Dates Hotel begins on Monday 2nd January, 10pm, C4 

Radio Times Travel spa breaks:

Save 33% on a two-night spa break, Ragdale Hall in Melton Mowbray, two nights from £407pp. Ragdale Hall Health Hydro & Thermal Spa combines state of the art facilities and treatments with the charm of traditional Victorian architecture to create one of the most luxurious and relaxing health spas in the country. It has won a string of awards for its facilities and outstanding customer service. Click here for more details and to book

Spa days at Ellenborough Park in Cheltenham from £65pp. In the 90-acre grounds of the Ellenborough Park estate, the spa is for adults aged 18 and over. With sandy coloured stone and a laid-back atmosphere, it’s a rejuvenating retreat for guests, the spa has been designed as a tranquil and welcoming space in which visitors can unwind and recharge their batteries. Click here for more details and to book


For more spa breaks, go to travel.radiotimes.com/shortbreaks/spa