Review: Yes, You Need To Check Into 'Gran Hotel' On Netflix

Gran Hotel Julio Olmedo Yon Gonzalez Alicia Alarcon Amaia Salamanca
Yours truly finally got around to checking into “Gran Hotel” on Netflix and am grateful for the binge-watching experience. It is tough to marathon watch the Spanish-language series quickly. With three seasons and 66 episodes, it requires a steady stream of viewing to watch it in its entirety.

Considering how terrific “Gran Hotel” is, there is no need to hurry your way through it on Netflix. The historical drama, which is filled with romance and mystery, begins in the early 1900s as electricity comes to the eponymous luxury destination. The action kicks off with the arrival of Julio Olmedo (Yon González) to visit his sister, Cristina (Paula Prendes).

Upon getting there, he realizes that Cristina is missing, and an investigation begins. In his quest to determine what happened to her, he ends up getting help from the hotel’s benevolent heiress, Alicia Alarcón (Amaia Salamanca). As you may have suspected, the pair strike up a romance. The spark that ignites between them turns into a quietly raging inferno as “Gran Hotel” continues.

Can Julio and Alicia overcome all of the obstacles in their way to find everlasting love? Every possible thing stands in their way. From a strict mother, a calculating romantic rival, and the sheer stress of their respective standings, it all seems insurmountable.

Like  “North and South,” that  “Gran Hotel” makes its central couple's destiny together so hard to predict is part of its hook. Notice the word “part.” “Gran Hotel” is more than just its central and side romances. It is a sprawling costume drama that ensconces a wide array of characters.

There is Julio’s sweet new friend Andres (a brilliant Llorenç González), Andres’ mother (scene-stealer Concha Velasco), wildcard Belén, Alicia’s siblings/in-law, and the detective who tries to hold them all accountable. As you can tell, there are a lot of intriguing parties, and that is not naming all of them.

In true page-turning style, “Gran Hotel” unravels a new twist and ensuing turn in every episode. The drawback to all of this is that your favorite character(s)’ happiness is constantly elusive. If they do achieve some modicum of it, the other shoe is always about to drop. You have to watch in the hope of resolution, rather than often basking in its glow.

The cast that brings this enthralling story to life is among the best I have ever watched. Each actor brings equal gravitas and multi-dimension to their character. To invest in the sense that such drama is possible, you have to find the performances authentic, and “Gran Hotel” secures that.

Amaia Salamanca (“Perdida”) is stunning as the kind-hearted, Alicia. Believing that so many suitors would be vying for Alicia’s affection is easy, as Salamanca exudes a beauty that shines from the inside. As the man who captures Alicia’s heart, Yon González is charming and debonair with a broody edge that makes Julio, a likable yet colorful hero.

Coming off having recently watched “Money Heist,” it is incredible to see Pedro Alonso give such a different performance as Diego in “Gran Hotel.” There is not a trace of his “Money Heist” character, Berlin, to be seen, which is an impressive feat that spans over 60 episodes. Usually, you can see a few mannerisms weave in and out by that point. Not with Alonso.

An entire feature could be dedicated to the cast of this series because they are all remarkable, including a certain “High Seas” star and a fierce Marta Larralde as the crafty Belén. Meanwhile, Adriana Ozores is spellbinding as Alicia's formidable and ingenious mother, Doña Teresa.

Also worthy of the spotlight is the terrific turn of Pep Antón Muñoz as Inspector Horacio Ayala. Playing the investigator is not the easiest thing to pull off, and yet Munoz does so with dramatic and humorous flare. Muñoz's performance easily elevates Ayala to being one of TV's best detectives.

As it turns out, there is a lot for Ayala to investigate, which gives you an idea of how elaborate and widespread the mysteries are. “Gran Hotel” is a twisty adventure that you have to be willing to endure a lot of bad times to get to the good.

The feel-good payoffs are few and far between. That the characters at the heart of its story are so likable, you are willing to weather the dark times with them, is a testament to their appeal, and “Gran Hotel” as a whole.

Rating: 8.5/10

All three seasons of “Gran Hotel” are currently streaming on Netflix.

[Featured Image by Enrique Baro Ubach / Tabu Producciones / Antena 3]