UK hotel chains throw lifeline to NHS staff by offering beds

UK hotel chains across the country are being converted into temporary hospitals to provide the NHS with emergency bed space as well as accommodation for medical staff.

Hilton, Holiday Inn and Best Western Great Britain are some of the hotel chains in talks with the government about rooms given to vulnerable groups and NHS staff.

A Best Western hotel in south London is reportedly being turned into a hospital support site this week, with every bedroom for medical staff and at-risk patients. The group is the UK’s biggest independent hotel chain, with 270 properties.

The collapse in commercial bookings has hit hotel chains hard, with hundreds of vacant rooms. Martin Bradnam, chairman of Hospitality Association York (HAY), said: “A lot of the properties that focus on conferences are seeing cancellation by people affected by the travel bans with companies saying ‘is the meeting necessary?’” he told York Press.

“That affects us because in our industry, mid-week we welcome a lot of corporate guests.”

Manchester joins the fight

Independent hotels are also following suit, with former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville stating that he is to opening his hotels free of charge to health workers. Neville co-owns The Stock Exchange hotel and Hotel Football at Old Trafford with ex-teammate Ryan Giggs.

“In the last week, we’ve been in consultation with the health services,” Neville said on Twitter. “Our 176 beds will be occupied by NHS workers and medical professionals from Friday onwards.”

Hotel Football, owned by Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, offers free beds to NHS staff.

Hotel Football, owned by Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, offers free beds to NHS staff.

Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club is also offering to house NHS staff working in London hospitals at the Millennium hotel on Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge stadium site.

Charlotte Frenchman, brand manager at Roomzzz Aparthotels, which has branches in Chester, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham, London and York, contacted M&IT to say that the company is offering ten free rooms in each hotel for NHS workers.

STAY in Hawley Wharf, Camden, part of the LABS Collective is offering apartments with a care package plus basic provisions gifted for an initial one-month period.

Free coffee on tap

LABS is donating its largest event space, Camden House, as well as a number of private offices across its buildings, for the emergency services and critical call centres to use as necessary. Camden House will become a ‘common room’ for those on the frontline with complimentary tea and coffee provided day and night.

Dotan Weiner, Chief Operating Officer at The LABS Collective said: “As a business we talk about how we provide environments for people to thrive and now is our chance to really deliver on that. With the current uncertainty surrounding everyday lives, the need for a community hub of facilities and support has become more important than ever.

“We know the emergency services across the UK are working tirelessly to cope with the increased demands during the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and to be able to support by making space and accommodation available is a privilege.”

Wyboston Lakes Resort, which closed following government requirements, is also joining the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. “We are already in talks with the NHS about some of our facilities being taken over in the short-term for those patients convalescing following surgery or illness.  This in turn will free up valuable beds in hospitals for those COVID-19 patients who need them most.  We will keep liaising with all parties over the coming weeks,” Steve Jones, managing director of Wyboston Lakes Resort said.

Retaining staff

He also added that “no employee is going to be paid less than 80 per cent of their salary while they are not working and nobody has been made redundant.  Those required to continue working will be paid in full. We will still be paying substantial amounts in salaries ourselves along with all our other obligations.

On Friday 20 March, the first hotel rooms for homeless people were booked when 300 beds at the Intercontinental Hotels Group were marked out for the next three months so rough sleepers can self-isolate.

Research by University College London found that placing vulnerable groups in hotels was much more cost effective than treating them in hospital.