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HfP reader story: My life in a lockdown hotel

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One of our readers in currently based in a UK Crowne Plaza hotel whilst undertaking essential work.  Here is his story of how he is finding life in these strange times.

I am a key worker and had spent eight weeks in a Crowne Plaza prior to lockdown for work.  I have just returned to the same hotel for another two weeks but these two weeks will be very different.

I believe there are less than 10 guests occupying a hotel that has 140 rooms, four of whom are myself and my colleagues.  The rest are NHS staff and other essential workers. No other people are allowed at the hotel.

When we arrived, a sign on the locked door asked us to use our foot to push a doorbell to be let in.  Non residents are asked not to come in and instead call reception by telephone.

Life in a lockdown hotel

When I checked in, the various protocols were explained to me as I stood behind a rope to ensure the receptionist was given sufficient distance.  He explained he was living on site at the hotel to try and support those like me who need a place to stay whilst we work in the area.

Life in a lockdown hotel

Our rooms had been vacant for 10 days prior to our arrival to prevent any risk of lingering Covid-19.  Housekeeping are not able to enter our rooms during our stay.

The restaurant and bar area is all closed off.  To arrange for breakfast and dinner (room service) we send our orders via email.

Life in a lockdown hotel

Breakfast is “grab bag” style:

Life in a lockdown hotel

….. and dinner is limited to five main courses and two dessert choices.

The receptionist kindly brings our order, leaves it on the floor outside our door and asks that we wait for them to leave before opening the door.

A fully stocked trolly has been set up near reception with the essentials such as towels, toiletries, tea and coffee top ups, bars of soap etc.  There is a polite sign asking guests to use the alcohol gel provided before collecting anything.  They have also provided gloves for those who want them.

Life in a lockdown hotel

Over the eight weeks I stayed here prior to lockdown I became friendly with many of the staff.  All bar three are now furloughed with the three remaining doing rotating shifts.  There are also a couple of other support staff on site for cleaning and maintenance but I don’t believe they are here every day.

Life in a lockdown hotel

The staff and the hotel are doing as best they can in such difficult times to put everyone’s safety at the top of the list whilst also trying to provide some level of hospitality.  I take my hat off to them for staying open for us.

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Comments (53)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • The Original David says:

    The catering looks infinitely better than my night in a covid quarantine hotel in Shanghai! Well done to the team for keeping operations going…

  • Shoeshineboy says:

    Eye opener. Thanks for sharing.
    Looks like the CP a couple of miles from Gatwick if I’m not mistaken

    • The Original David says:

      It’s Basingstoke. Check the signage in the lobby photo.

  • mradey says:

    Complete madness. It’s not the plague.

    • David says:

      To date, nearly a quarter of a million grieving families may disagree. Unbelievable comment.

      • Nick says:

        Didn’t the plague wipe out nearly a quarter of the world’s population? And the 1918 version of SARS affected about a third in some way. So while we can indeed sympathise with those families affected, it’s also very fair to say ‘it’s nothing like the plague’ – factually this is correct. It’s important to retain some perspective, even in challenging times.

        • Chrisasaurus says:

          Did the plague last only four months or are you picking arbitrary timescales?

          And I didn’t particularly excel st.histkry but I dknt recall either Spanish flu or the bubonic plague having been mitigated by social distancing or lockdown let alone alcohol gel?

          • ken says:

            Then you need to read up on your history.

            Eyam village in Derbyshire isolated itself in 1665 once plague was found there to prevent it spreading to surrounding villages.

            In the 1918 flu epidemic, American Samoa cut itself and didn’t allow external ships to dock.
            Result 0 deaths from Flu.

            Western Samoa just carried on as before. Result 20% of population died of flu.

          • Novice says:

            Plague of Justinian I think it’s called was the absolute worst plague in human history.

            This doesn’t come close but this is horrendous for ppl who died or got infected as we don’t know long term effects.

            I understand some ppl would say that in the grand scheme of things as in 7.8 billion ppl on Earth, it’s not a big number of casualties but to each person who has lost a family or friend would beg to differ as the person is precious to them.

            But logically, millions die a day anyway. I think the biggest outcry should be to emphasise the fact that poor people are dying and well-off ppl are surviving. But this fact has been the case forever.

      • Dwadda says:

        There’s no cart going around saying “bring out your dead” so it is not the plague. In normal times 1,500 people die each day in the UK. CV19 is hastening the death of some but the number of excess deaths is less than the published deaths. We’re spending £1.6m for each additional year of life for those over 70 who die of this. Dying is part of life.

        I am more distressed for those who survive but that subsequently have chronic lung damage or other life-long illnesses, and also the NHS workers who have stepped up so bravely.

        What I am most distressed about is that scientists are using conjecture to guide politicians. They’re acting like priests. They said Ro was between 2-3 based on zero testing of the general population – ie zero evidence. Meanwhile they focused testing on people who were sick in hospital when the results of these tests have little bearing on how the patients were treated. If it turns out that Ro is more liike 5-6 (and data from Italy and Germany points to this) that would have changed the decision making then and now.

        It’s all well and good if you’re retired. But for most people it’s not only about saving lives but also their livelihoods.

        • No lockdown for moi says:

          Dwadda surely you realise you’re not allowed to post rational stuff about the cost of giving extra years of life to 70+ folk?

          Every life is important and no matter what the cost we should do anything we can to keep coronavirus at bay, even if the economy goes so bad that the new poverty kills more people than Covid-19 ever would.

          • Rob says:

            I was talking to my 77 year old Mum yesterday and she is very disturbed by the idea that a young nurse may die from contracting CV from her, if she caught it and went into hospital.

          • John says:

            It may be easy to say now as a 30-year-old, but if another pandemic comes around when I am 80 and I get unwell, I might choose to stay at home instead of going to hospital.

            I’m not scared of dying alone and in pain provided that I have finished all the things I wanted to do.

          • Spursdebs says:

            Well Rob I hope you reassured your Mum and told her that if she felt that unwell she must go to hospital. We can’t have the elderly and vulnerable not seeking help because they are worried about other people. Did you know the government are paying £1500 per week for people in care homes that only deal with covid 19. They are discharging them from hospitals the patient and relatives have little or no say in where they are sent. Even if you have power of attorney government trumps your rights in this pandemic.

          • Novice says:

            Personally I agree with John that if you are young you have a life to live so should be prioritised but then I remember Captain Tom. The legend is 99 nearly 100 so we shouldn’t be putting a price on or making decisions on who gets to live.

          • ken says:

            @ Spursdeb.

            The NHS do this in normal times.
            Once they can’t treat (now because of capacity, as well as no prospect of improvement) they can’t get patients out quick enough provided they can find a care home to take them.
            An example would be a severe stroke patient who reaches a plateau that won’t respond much more.

            If you are 70+, frail, male, and have co-morbidity such as diabetes, you are unlikely to get an intensive care bed in normal times.

            If you are still skiing at that age you would get a bed.

          • Lady London says:

            I agree with you @SpursDebs. It’s a racket. My former boss got into a job selling to the NHS. He made £100,000’s of personal commission based on margin of what he was selling. He said what you’ve said and worse.

            Also met many people over the years working for the NHS and they tell me about massive wastage, disorganisation, incompetence. You simply do not hear this level of stories about other European national health services. You used to hear about Spain and Italy but they have massively improved in most places. UK is a sinking money pit.

            I would happily double or treble my tax if I knew the NHS would be sorted out.

            Health/pharma is a major way to make most money worldwide no matter who pays. I recently needed tablets – sold internationally by my favourite pharma – for my cats. Looking only online, from the US 1 packet ranged 250-500 dollars. Elsewhere in Europe varied greatly up to about 90 euros. I eventually tracked down a few, which have turned out to be genuine, from a UK supplier for about £50 pro rata. I am sure the UK online pet pharma is still making an excellent profit but if sold to the NHS I would expect the NHS to be charged £200-300 from what I’ve heard.

        • Paul says:

          I mean it’s not nice but we regularly put a price on lives, for example by not finding the NHS at x2 or x3 the levels. Obviously that’s an extreme, but there are families losing lives as a result of not funding the NHS a bit more, and that’s because as a nation we decided we don’t want to pay an infinite amount.

          • Spursdebs says:

            Nhs doesn’t need more money just competent managers and they are like rocking horse ***
            I thought I’d buy some dressings that the district nurse uses on my Mum £21 for box of 10 Dressings outrageous price,Leg wraps which are stretchy material with strong Velcro on the end £180 per leg.
            It’s just one big old cartel of people/ companies with their noses in the trough keeping prices artificially high.So no I won’t be spending £21 a week on dressings, I’ll do the job of the nurses as I stopped them coming 8 weeks ago but I’m not bankrupting myself in the process.

          • Rob says:

            This is driven by regulation though. You cannot set up a factory tomorrow to make bandages. You need to build a fully sterile working environment and secure huge volumes of approvals.

            In my banking days we looked at buying a business once which made liquid medication for people who couldn’t swallow. It reformulates pills into liquid equivalents. Only one company in the UK has the huge number of approvals required to do this and you can imagine how much it charges.

          • Lady London says:

            @Rob “That’s what they all say” all these suppliers and it’s a poor excuse. Yes there are barriers to entry such as setup costs and ongoing safety audit costs etc but once setup and contracts gained these suppliers are a money machine no one talks about.

        • ken says:

          “but the number of excess deaths is less than the published deaths”.

          Sorry but this is simply nonsense.
          Excess deaths will be much higher than the number of Covid cases on death certificates.

          The “all cause excess mortality” figure is estimated to be 41,000 at 21st April

        • Tony says:

          I am retired living in Spain where we cannot go out for any form of excercise and now on day 40 with at least another 16 ahead of us.
          The complete population unless an essential worker only allowed out for a specific purpose such as going to the Chemist, Tobacconist or supermarket!
          Streets being sprayed with a strong chlorine mix every second day!
          Today a slight easing as people with children under 18, can take them to the above mentioned places.
          Dog walkers limited to within 50 m of home.

    • David S says:

      Feel free to come and say that to the patients we see everyday dying in front of us or the over 100 NHS colleagues we have lost in the last month who have died unnecessarily. I think they and their family will quite disagree with your comment that this is all just madness.

      • Lady London says:

        The lack of protective gear for staff is unpardonable. It reveals the rot in the NHS.

    • Sal says:

      Peter hitchens in disguise?

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Do we really need this?

  • Sergio says:

    To the essential key workers staying at that hotel,,, thanks for all your doing and please Stay Safe

    • The Original David says:

      Let’s not be too generous – some of them are probably IT consultants.

      • Andrew says:

        I’ll tell all of the IT consultants working at my hospital that they’re not really key workers and they can pack up and go home then yeah? *eyeroll*

      • mr_jetlag says:

        “not essential!”

        …says the idiot typing on his phone, commenting on a website on the internet.

      • Charlieface says:

        Oy do you mind?

      • paul says:

        Some of us are, we are in the office every single day……..

        I know many clinical staff who are choosing to sit at home with their kids…..

  • BJ says:

    “receptionist … explained he was living on site at the hotel to try and support those like me who need a place to stay” and “I take my hat off to them for staying open for us.”

    Thanks to the reader contributing this, for his service, and for acknowledging the many other less visible key workers such as the hotel receptionist and other staff who also make sacrifices and put themselves at greater risk to keep everything functioning as smoothly as possible at this challenging time.

  • Alan says:

    Really interesting insight, thanks for publishing. Good work from that CP and their team too.

  • Phil Huff says:

    I was once one of two guests at the spectacular Le Méridien Ra Beach Hotel near Sitges, albeit in far happier times.

    Rather than call for service, they simply had a staff member discreetly follow us around the hotel, ready to assist with anything we may have needed. It was a bizarre, but memorable, experience.

  • SB says:

    Thanks to the reader who wrote and shared this – very interesting article

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