With travel plans sadly on hold, boutique hotels are using their expertise and imaginations to help out in imaginative ways. We’ve rounded up some of our favourite examples that will hopefully inspire and cheer.
Responding with rooms
Former footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs made headlines when they announced they were turning their luxury Manchester hotels – Hotel Football and Stock Exchange Hotel – over to the use of NHS staff. They’ve been joined by hotels across the country, from grand dames such as Claridge’s to country escapes such as Bowfield Hotel and Country Club in Renfrewshire to smaller boutique hotels such as Old Palace Lodge in Lincoln.
Needless to say, we’re all looking forward to when COVID 19 is finally over. The campaign #treatournhs, started by Sarah Bowman, is a way of saying thank you to the people who most directly deal with its impact. Search the hashtag on Instagram to see who is taking part – we’ve spotted giveaways for NHS staff and key workers from the likes of Salcombe Harbour Hotel and Spa, Lucknam Park Hotel in Wiltshire and The Langley in Buckinghamshire.
Of course, a hotel is more than just a room, and these examples have been showing exactly how through a range of imaginative initiatives.
Tony Matharu, owner of Blue Orchid Hotels – encompassing the likes of The Rochester and The Wellington – launched Here to Help London, partnering with other groups to respond to the needs of the capital: be that food delivery, books or simply a conversation. Meanwhile, staff at The Hari are getting on their bikes – literally – to deliver prescriptions, supplies and whatever else is needed to their community.
The team behind the four-star Calcot & Spa in the Cotswolds have been working to deliver free deliciously home-cooked meals, three times a week to 600 vulnerable people locally, using locally sourced ingredients. Executive chef for Calcot & Spa, Richard Davies has praised those working with the hotel on the project. “The kindness and generosity from our local suppliers to support this initiative has been truly amazing,” he says. “Everyone is doing their bit to help; from helping with vegetable prep to donating funds to fuel the volunteers’ cars; it all helps. It would be great if other hospitality businesses are able do the same, so we can all join forces to use our culinary skills to help those in the current pandemic.”
The idea of coming together to help is echoed by Robin Sheppard CEO of Bespoke Hotels. “We have an active community and local charities in each region,” he says. “We must work together and be kind to one another during these unprecedented times.” Initiatives put in place to date range from afternoon teas held for care homes local to Cotswold House and Oddfellows Chester, to the gift of supplies for Amazing Grace, a soup kitchen near to Blackpool’s Lyndene Hotel.
Another group leading by example is Hand Picked. Cheshire’s Rookery Hall Hotel & Spa sent 100 cream teas to Leighton Hospital, while Kent’s Chilston Park Hotel and Surrey’s Woodland Park Hotel delivered more pastry delights to local care homes.
While Chewton Glen is sadly closed the organic produce from its farm is going to the local not-for-profit organisation, The Empty Bowls Project. The project partners handmade bowls with locally made soup: all proceeds go to the New Forest Basics Bank, supporting low-income families (and any leftover soup goes to local food banks).
It’s not just people getting the benefit of homegrown goodness. The Pig at Bridge Place distributes their produce to locals that need it the most. And that includes the 29 Western lowland gorillas at nearby Howletts Wild Animal Park. According to Hotel Director Guy Freedman: “We have asked all in our local village of Bridge to let us know what they need and have ensured that the local NHS workers, elderly and vulnerable take what they want. We still found ourselves with leftover veg as the gardens are at their most productive in April, May and June. So we are delighted to have found that the gorillas are happy recipients.”
Do what you can
And it goes beyond food. In the north-east, Rockliffe Hall donated shower gel to local hospital patients who were lacking toiletries because of the visitor restrictions, while Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa, Surrey, gave disposable gloves and hand creams to nursing staff at their local hospital. Meanwhile, the London branches of CitizenM (Tower of London, Shoreditch and Bankside) gave 800 unused iPads to NHS trusts in the capital, so hospital patients, unable to receive visitors in person, could stay in touch, and to help the work of ambulance staff. CMO Robin Chadha conveyed his hope that “this small act will help some of our local communities stay connected with their loved ones during these strange and unprecedented times.”
While the Rosewood London has been making the most of their culinary expertise, cooking meals for Great Ormond Street Hospital, they’ve also announced that they’re offering a complimentary wedding, in a competition for key workers and carers, in partnership with HELLO magazine and wedding show company Bridelux. According to managing director Michael Bonsor, “Rosewood London is delighted to be a partner of this amazing initiative to be able give back and help NHS staff, carers and key workers who have been working so hard to keep us all safe in these exceptional times.” The winner’s wedding will even be featured in HELLO!
In addition, Bonsor has teamed up with Warren James, co-founder of hospitality headhunter James & Cranwell and Thomas Kochs, managing director of London’s Corinthia Hotel to launch the ‘Hospitality 4 Heroes Challenge’. Challenging people to think of imaginative ways to raise money for the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Appeal, they began with a target £10,000 – already smashed at time of writing!
Try it at home
Us customers haven’t been neglected either. If you’re missing your favourite boutique hotel, it’s worth checking out their social: head to the Hotel du Vin Instagram for yoga lessons, tips on wine, and a demonstration on how to get your eggs benedict just right. Similarly, visit The Torringdon’s blog to get tips on how to cook your steak or plaice, almost as if you were enjoying it on the shores of Loch Torringdon in the Highlands.
And let’s not forget the people who have helped make these hotels into places that we’ve loved. Both the Ace and The Standard have launched funds to help their staff affected by Covid-19: you can support them by clicking here and here. Book directly with Bermondsey Square Hotel for a future stay and part of the cost will be donated to Hospitality Action’s fund. Supporting others, and giving ourselves something to look forward to? Sounds just what’s needed right now.