With tourism and business travel at an all-time low, some of London’s finest hotels are turning guest rooms into offices for remote workers looking for luxury. Olivia Palamountain reports
When Globetrender first reported on hotel rooms tapping into the WFA trend earlier this year, it seemed like a sensible and creative stop-gap to plug revenue deficit in the wake of the pandemic.
In June, year-on-year hotel occupancy in Europe fell by 73 per cent, according to STR, and with a second national lockdown now in place across England, the worst is not over yet. Hotels worldwide are still suffering and the ingenious temporary measures put in place to ease the financial pain are fast becoming the norm.
Grand, five-star properties are not immune to the challenges faced by the industry either. In fact, the latest properties in London catering to this trend are luxury hotels hoping to add a touch of glamour to the “work from anywhere” experience.
At both addresses, expect a spacious working area for up to six guests (from 7am-7pm), with stationery and unlimited tea and coffee included. Plus, an “on call” IT concierge to solve any technical conundrums.
For working lunches and downtime, the package also includes £100 credit to spend at the hotels’ bars, restaurants or spa. Rates start from £1,275 at The Dorchester and £925 at 45 Park Lane.Meanwhile, the Bvlgari Hotel London has launched B.Business, an offering that includes the use of a large suite, the 25-metre pool and gym, and refreshments throughout the day – including lunch and post-work drinks. From £1,448 in a Junior suite per person and £6,888 for the Bvlgari Suite which holds up to six, it’s not cheap.
However, there’s a charitable angle to booking this package, with ten per cent of proceeds from each B.Business “workation” dedicated to the Jenner Institute via the Bvlgari Virus Free Fund. This supports Oxford University’s world-leading groups working on researching, manufacturing and testing Covid-19, malaria, TBC, HIV, Ebola and influenza vaccines.The Rosewood London has transformed guest suites into offices for its “Work from Hotel” package, complete with a giant desk and the usual office paraphernalia – starting at £595 for a Grand Premier King room.
A Business Butler is on-call to handle printing and scanning, shoe shining, suit and shirt ironing, as well as unlimited tea and coffee runs from the Holborn Dining Room. Discounted after-work cocktails at Scarfes Bar are included too.
The best bit? Rosewood’s WFH package includes use of the Rosewood Family Concierge, a service that provides babysitter-tutors for children of working parents. You might be tempted to join in with them however, as they enjoy the likes of reading sessions in the Mirror Room, a pie masterclass in The Pie Room, and guided walks around Holborn.
‘Working from hotel’ early adopters
These properties join the likes of Accor, with its Hotel Office concept, a “premium remote working experience”, with rooms rented out as day offices.
European hotel group 25 Hours is offering rooms as workspaces for €50 per day and until December 30 2020, the K West Hotel and Spa is offering a “Work from Home Alternative” for £79 which includes the use of an Executive room from 8am to 6pm with a work desk, free wifi, free parking and unlimited in-room tea and coffee.
It’s not just European hotels pivoting their business models. The American Hotel and Lodging Association released a report outlining the current state of the industry as the pandemic continues to depress demand. Four in ten hotel employees are still not working and two-thirds of hotels remain at less than 50 per cent occupancy.
The London West Hollywood in LA has also converted a selection of its suites into private offices, and MGM Bellagio and Aria in Las Vegas are offering a new “Viva Las Office” package to tempt people into working-from-hotel.
At the Whythe in New York, 14 guest rooms have now been converted into workspaces and New York’s NoMo SoHo hotel has launched YourPlace at Nomo Soho, offering rooms for day-use private workspaces.