The Best Western Hotel in the London suburb of Croydon would normally be packed with visiting families, out-of-town construction workers, and business travelers.
But today the lobby is clear of all guests and furniture except for a single table with a bottle of hand sanitizer, a box of face masks and a notice that reads, "Coughs and sneezes spread disease."A four-foot machine emblazoned with the phrase "Viruskiller" whirs behind the empty check-in counter.This 107-room inn is now a recovery ward for coronavirus patients, as part of a pilot program to relieve local hospitals that are under enormous strain in the second wave of the pandemic.The hotel's manager Alex Palaghiu said the transition from 4-star hotel to makeshift medical facility was driven by the need to help the country's ailing National Health Service (NHS)."We are very proud to be part of this, so it's a very good feeling to be a part of something," he said, "I believe everyone should get together to support the NHS and save lives."This is the first hotel in the UK to take part in the scheme, but if successful, it could be a model for converting more of the hospitality industry's spare rooms, many of which lie empty amid the country's lockdown.