It’s been more than a week since London icons Claridge’s, The Connaught and The Berkeley closed their gilded doors in central Mayfair to the public as the city went into mandatory lockdown. Today, Claridge’s is reopening with the help of teams from all three properties in the Maybourne Hotel Group to play a different role in hospitality—as host to frontline workers from the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.
“We are in the business of hospitality and what greater hospitality than opening your doors when the NHS and the city of London needs you?” says Paula Fitzherbert, the Maybourne Hotel Group’s director of communications. “We were overwhelmed by volunteers from all our hotel teams who wanted to step up and do their bit.”
Aside from providing rooms to the workers, the hotel will also provide breakfast and a hot dinner, which will be left outside rooms on a tray to maintain social distancing. Claridge’s, where room rates start at around $700, will have a rotating roster of chefs from all three hotel kitchens and other staff on a volunteer basis. “There is no 24-hour room service or turn down but we hope instead it will be a comforting refuge for the NHS teams after a long tough day,” says Fitzherbert. “They can still run a big relaxing bath and hopefully restore with a good night’s sleep.” As of now, 40 workers, including doctors and nurses, have checked in, with the hope of alleviating long commutes home, and providing them with a safe space to sleep that won’t put their families at risk. The average stay will last a week, but workers are invited to stay as long as needed.
This is the latest example of hotels from around the globe, facing closures or critically low capacities, turning over their rooms to assist in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, New York’s Four Seasons announced that it would be opening its $1000 a night rooms to medical personnel. Yesterday, Miami said that over 30 of its properties would start hosting essential guests which include first responders, airline staff, and families of patients in the hospitals.