It is 40 years since Basil Fawlty rampaged onto British TV screens, terrifying guests at his Torquay Hotel – Fawlty Towers – with his quick wit and short temper. Happily, the spirit of Mr Fawlty is alive and well.
If you have ever wondered how John Cleese's creation would have handled modern features of the hospitality industry, such as the dreaded online review, then wonder no more.
Step forward Ken Evans, owner-manager of the Nelcon Hotel in Blackpool – northern England's answer to Las Vegas.
The Nelcon enjoys a score of 6.8 on the review site booking.com – pretty good for a budget hotel, six minutes walk from the seaside. Many guests also pay tribute to the "lovely, friendly and helpful" Evans in the comments section of the website.
Others make criticisms. Some justified; others, no doubt, unjustified. Either way, Evans refuses to take them lying down. And we love him for it.
"John I told you in person you are an antisocial drunk who no one liked. I deliberately gave you the worst room, especially after your last visit," reads one of his classic ripostes.
"Please book elsewhere next time and pay more. Then get kicked out for being loud and spilling your drinks all over the carpets and beds – you're not welcome back ever. OK," goes another.
For the most part, Evans despairs with guests who have not understood the old maxim "you get what you pay for". He thinks disgruntled holidaymakers are too often demanding The Ritz, or 4-star treatment, on a shoestring.
"No problem, next time book The Big Blue [a Blackpool 4-star] – it will only cost about £160 a night," he says, to somebody complaining about the Nelcon's limited facilities.
Other times, he is less diplomatic and more to the point, for example: "You were the guest from hell."
And then there are complaints that Evans simply cannot be held responsible for: "As for the prostitutes and police at the end of the street, that is not something we here as hotel managers can control," he informed one customer who had reservations about the local neighbourhood.
But do not for a second think that when Evans is responsible for something that goes wrong, he is unable to hold his hands up and admit it. Far from it. One guest wrote: "The house smelt of weed when we came in and although the landlord was nice, the three men in the room that just stared at us were quite intimidating."
To which Evans replied: "My apologies for the smell and the three men have now left." A frank response but also one that poses a lot more questions than it answers.
IBTimes UK were desperate to speak to Evans because we are big fans of his work. Unfortunately, we could not get through to him, although the offer remains very much open.
Until then, we will keep checking back to see how he is dealing with other problem guests while keeping the spirit of Basil Fawlty alive, 40 years later and 300 miles north of Torquay.