How hotels helped during lockdown

Last updated: November 27, 2021

Changing rooms into office spaces, housing the homeless and cooking school dinners… Hotels are responding to the Covid crisis in many innovative and helpful ways

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The Covid-19 pandemic saw UK hotels experience a devastating downturn in business. The lockdown caused the hotel industry to take urgent measures and think creatively in providing new Covid-secure services.

Hotel owners and management teams responded amazingly under pressure to find new roles in helping their local communities. Travelodge opened its doors to house front-line NHS staff and crucial key workers who chose not to return home in order to protect their families from the virus.

The Office 2020

Another alternative use for hotels was as offices. Businesses were able to hire hotel rooms to use as Covid-safe temporary offices, enabling staff who couldn’t work from home to keep working safely, with full social distancing policies in place. For a lot of office workers, working from home was difficult due to issues such as family distractions, poor internet connectivity, lack of usable workspace and even annoying house-mates. With no worries about social distancing, it was easy to work from your own private hotel room.

Interstate Hotels offered hotel rooms for businesses as well as NHS key workers throughout the pandemic. While in America the InterContinental Hotel Group in Washington DC saw an increasing use by workers whose offices remain closed.

Hotels were keen to keep their rooms occupied and their staff busy, so this meant a new schedule of cleaning and sanitising rooms and equipment between work shifts. This was all part of the Covid-aware learning process for hoteliers and guests alike.

Protecting the vulnerable during the pandemic

As well as offering Covid-safe accommodation to key workers and local businesses, a record number of hotels teamed up with councils to open their doors and help house the homeless. This was both humane and practical. Modelling by University College London revealed that housing vulnerable groups such as the homeless in Covid-secure hotel rooms would be significantly more cost-effective than the costs involved with treating them in hospital. This enabled the homeless to self-isolate in safety and carry out social distancing. In the UK the government-mandated drive saw hotels provide more than 5400 self-contained rooms to help protect the homeless and prevent those infected from spreading the virus. Holiday Inn, Ibis and Travelodge all stepped up to the plate to offer places.

Hotels in some areas came to the rescue of local residents and eased mental health issues by opening up their gardens, This allowed people with no access to outdoor space to safely get some fresh air and exercise while keeping social distancing in place.

Food for Thought

With schools closing and the temporary loss of school meals, plus the shutdown of many restaurant and catering businesses, hotels put their large kitchens to good use by providing hot takeaway and meal delivery services to their local community.

Many hotels have large kitchens and food preparation areas that allowed their staff to work at a safe distance from each other and to work on a shift patterns, allowing the hotel to keep catering staff employed and protected at the same time.

For example, chefs from Dorchester Hotel in London, who used to prepare up to 1,000 meals per day for guests, volunteered to cook free school lunches for the children of key workers in Tower Hamlets, London. Their top-class school dinners included dishes such as vegetarian paella with salad and a lemony herb dressing.

Hotels found many new ways of helping during the Covid-19 outbreak. They were used to house the homeless, provide green gardens and temporary office space and cook school dinners. Now that’s room service.

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RightRooms believes all information to be correct at time of going to press. As guidance, research and facts around Covid-19 are changing constantly, the information provided here is for general information only and does not constitute professional advice. Please check with venues, locations and attractions before travelling.

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