Gran Hotel

I have fallen in love. I really have- with the beautiful face of Yon Gonzalez a.k.a. Julio Olmedo/Espinoza in the Spanish drama Gran Hotel. I recently found this series on Netflix because I wanted a way to practice my Spanish- it’s been getting a little rusty since I came home.

Ugh, this series is so much fun to watch- and for those who don’t speak Spanish, yes, there are English subtitles. Part period drama, part mystery, part soap opera, Gran Hotel centers on the Alarcon family as they struggle with marriage, money, and murder. I’m not kidding. Someone dies in every fifth episode, it’s a little ridiculous- but extremely addictive.

And unlike other shows, this one does not drag on for years- it’s just three seasons. My one quibble with the series is that Julio and Alicia Alarcon (played by the absolutely stunning Amaia Salamanca) take forever to get together. Most of the first season is over before they kiss, and the next level isn’t even approached until a few episodes into season two. Which has made me very conflicted. On the one hand, it seems more realistic to have it build slowly, and simmer for a while. But from the first episode, you just know these two are going to get together eventually- it’s in the writing, in the directing, and in the acting.

And while I have focused on the star couple, that’s not to say that the subplots are any less interesting. The marital intrigue of Sofia, the possibly murderous machinations of the matriarch Teresa, and the possible murder of Alicia’s father are all great. And alcoholic brother Javier provides some good excuses for Julio to fight shirtless a few times. It was not subtle at all, and I am not complaining.

Someone called this the Spanish Downton Abbey in an article. Yea, it’s centered on a family and their hotel staff, with a huge house- but it’s less stuffy and more dramatic than the former could ever be. If you are looking for some drama and murder in your life, there are worse things to choose out there.


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