The world is in turmoil. These are not orderly times. This lack of normality requires exceptional responses to the daily challenges being thrown at all of us. One sector hit very hard is the world of hospitality. Restaurants, bars, cafés and hotels are predominately closed until further notice and all the workforce either laid off or furloughed until further notice. Unsettling to say the least. But there are signs that all is not lost.

 

The Maybourne Hotel Group that incorporates some of the world’s most famous and esteemed hotels has put its not inconsiderable services at the disposal of the NHS (National Health Service) in UK. One of the problems with the pandemic is the mobility of key workers, those people who continue to make things happen that we take for granted. Transport, police, fire and ambulance services all need support and of course hospitals, doctors, nurses and auxiliary staff. And the problem doesn’t stop there, isolation of suspected cases requires families to separate until cleared, which can mean living elsewhere. Others in the sector are having trouble getting to and from work with the reduction of train services down to 5% of what it was only a month ago.

 

So this is where some of Maybourne’s big hitters come into play. The Connaught, Claridge’s and The Berkley are offering their services in these testing times. A few weeks ago they shut their doors and sent their workforce home, now with an army of volunteers made up from existing staff members they are opening Claridge’s sumptuous accommodation to key workers. Located in Brook Street, central London, the rooms here usually start at £650 a night. This facility may well roll out to the other two hotels in time. I can’t think of anyone who will begrudge those brave and hard-working medical staff a luxury bed for the night in one of the world’s most famous hotels. Initially 40 key NHS staff from St. Mary’s Hospital Paddington have been checking into Brook Street from 3rd April.
Paddy McKillen, co-owner of the Maybourne Hotel Group said “Just as it has been in the past world wars, Claridge’s has a duty to step up and support the people of London. Teams from all our hotels have volunteered, and we are honoured to help and support the dedicated NHS workers at this critical time, we are forever in their debt.”

 

 

And the help doesn’t stop there, I wondered what would be there for the staff after a long shift at hospital in terms of something to eat? Well it seems that the kitchens at Claridge’s has been charged with providing supper and breakfast for them and will also provide premade packed meals for over 500 NHS workers and community support teams across London distributed via Meal Force. In addition the hotel group has already donated thousands of those luxury extras you find in their ensuite bathrooms such as toothbrushes, soaps and bottles of shampoo.

 

Arrangements for the food served in the hotel have been just as thorough. And all tastes have been catered for including vegetarian and vegan (as you’d expect with a world class hotel). I have had a glimpse of one of the menus on offer. For the plant-based diet lovers there’s a couple of things that took my fancy. Mushroom and beetroot Quorn bolognaise and also a pea and walnut risotto. For the meat eaters beef bourguignon with mashed potato (I have had the good fortune to have eaten the mash potato at Claridge’s before and can honestly say it was probably a 50/50 mix of butter and potato and absolutely fantastic). From further afield they have a braised Moroccan lamb shoulder and those seeking more traditional British fare can look forward to roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy.

 

This is obviously a commendable service that the hotel group are offering and I feel in these times of helping each other in small and larger ways wherever possible it strikes me as a superb example of the way forward. There are many businesses out there doing their bit to help and I’m sure more will join them. It gives purpose to the highly skilled workforce who were effectively made redundant overnight a new lease of life, giving others the chance to help others stay alive.

 

Neil Hennessy-Vass; London