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Cambridge guest house gets a visit from Channel 5's The Hotel Inspector

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Inga Grigaitiene and Alex Polizzi. Picture: Keith Heppell
Inga Grigaitiene and Alex Polizzi. Picture: Keith Heppell

A Cambridge B&B is to get a starring role on television.

From left, James Chance, Inga Grigaitiene, Alex Polizzi and James Cotton. Picture: Keith Heppell
From left, James Chance, Inga Grigaitiene, Alex Polizzi and James Cotton. Picture: Keith Heppell

Formerly Tenison Towers and now known as ‘The Tenison’ – it was felt ‘Towers’ conjured up images of Fawlty Towers – this charming guest house on Tenison Road has overhauled one of its bedrooms and will complete a full refurbishment later in the year.

There to document the process were the presenter and crew from The Hotel Inspector, a long-running series that offers advice on how to make hotels more profitable, which has been fronted by British hotelier of Italian descent, Alex Polizzi, since 2008.

Owned by John and Frances Chance for the best part of 20 years – and now in the hands of their son James – the establishment is managed by Inga Grigaitiene, who moved to Cambridge from her native Lithuania 18 years ago.

Inga subsequently lived and worked at the B&B, quickly adapting to life in Cambridge. Frances sadly died two years ago.

Filming at The Tenison. Picture: Keith Heppell
Filming at The Tenison. Picture: Keith Heppell

Proudly there representing the Cambridge Independent, and to give a genuine ‘Cambridge’ reaction to the work, I arrived at The Tenison just after 11am on Thursday, May 24, and chatted to some of the team from Onespacemedia – a Cambridge-based web design and development agency involved in design ideas for the guest house.

Then I was filmed walking down the road opposite as if I were ‘arriving’ at the building. I’m proud to say I managed it in one take...

James Cotton, founder and managing director of Onespacemedia – who was also filmed ‘arriving’ – joined me as we were shown into the kitchen where we met with Alex, Inga, the producer Stu and the crew.

There, I spied plates on the table with egg, sausages, bacon and bread – examples, I would later discover, of the locally-sourced produce used by the B&B.

Frances Chance
Frances Chance

We were told to help ourselves to the food – I was very restrained, I promise – and when Alex was saying how Cambridge has a growing number of independent businesses, I handed some copies of this newspaper to Alex and Inga.

Owner James Chance was filmed in the kitchen, along with the other James and myself, speaking to Inga about the previous owners, her love of Cambridge and her ambitious plans for The Tenison.

At one point Inga started crying as she recalled the kindness shown to her by Frances.

“Can I give her a hug, or would that be inappropriate?” I asked, genuinely feeling quite emotional.

“Frances and John and the family kind of adopted me,” Inga told me. “At the beginning I was cleaning rooms, then I had the chance to study business management with the Open University and also did lots of research into running a bed and breakfast.

“Frances always supported me. She was my friend, my mentor, my English mother, and she was always there for me – as were John and James.”

A larger-than-life character, Inga is planning to put her own unique stamp on the guest house, though she was initially reluctant – understandably – to change things from the way Frances had left them.

However, she said that the newly-refurbished room is “amazing” and expressed her gratitude to all those who have supported her.

She added: “It’s been really difficult, but everything now is so good. I’m more than excited to see the whole redevelopment.”

After we’d finished in the kitchen, James [Cotton] and I were filmed going up the stairs and being shown the refurbished bedroom, which has been painted lavender – one of my favourite colours – and given delightful ‘Cambridge’ touches such as old photographs of people associated with the city hanging on the walls.

After we’d finished, I spoke to James Chance about owning The Tenison.

“My mother always dreamed of having a bed and breakfast and she bought this place about 20 years ago and ran it for about 17 years,” he said.

“After then she retired and leased it to Inga. It’s now called The Tenison just really to reflect a more modern style.”

I’m sure Frances would be proud.

The Hotel Inspector returns for a new series this week. The Cambridge episode is expected to air in August or September.

Visit channel5.com/show/the-hotel-inspector/.

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