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two mounted police officers on horses, one being fed an apple at the Berkeley Hotel

HAY YOU! Mounted police turn up for free coffee at Berkeley Hotel’s drive-thru

Frontline and emergency workers are being invited to join the Berkeley Blue Light Club which will see them get benefits at the five-star Knightsbridge hotel.

The hotel – a sister to the Connaught and Claridge’s – has been offering free hot drinks and meals to frontline workers since the first lockdown, having turned its sweeping driveway into a drive-thru pickup location.

When the offer for frontline workers started up again last week paramedics, police, street sweepers and even mounted officers took advantage.

General manager, Knut Wylde, explained how the idea, which has inspired others to follow suit, came about.

He said: “I was talking with my team and everyone was supporting the NHS, which of course is deserved, but what about all the others on the front line?

“In lockdown one, when rules were more strict, they couldn’t get a cup of coffee or even go to the toilet.”

IN DEMAND: The hotel is serving around 350 free meals a day

The hotel also helped provide more than 50,000 meals to the elderly and vulnerable in a project working with Westminster Council.

Knut, 46, said: “We were keen to help the elderly and vulnerable but we didn’t know where they were.

“We were cooking the meals and then a team of volunteers were distributing them to the front doors of those who needed them.”

Knut acknowledges that businesses have had to adapt, especially the hospitality industry which has been left to cope with last-minute lockdowns and long-term uncertainty over international travel.

He said: “Anyone who thinks they can open their business in the same way when this is over will fall flat on their face.

“For business it is important to stay relevant and not to be forgotten.

“It is important to be at the forefront of people’s minds so when we can open again, we get as many people as we can through the door.”

READY TO GO: The team at the Berkeley

The hotel has been running Blue Bar Bikes (named for the Blue Bar in the hotel) which delivers cocktails mixed on the client’s doorstep in the local area, and now also runs a breakfast delivery service within eight miles of the hotel.

But Knut said the hotel will carry on supporting frontline workers even as things return to normal.

He explained the hotel had always previously picked one charity to lend its support to.

“We want it to continue. We have now decided that for the foreseeable future we will continue working with the emergency services,” he said.

Tea, coffee biscuits and fruit are provided all day from 9am-5pm, while frontline workers can get a hot soup from 11am. There are even apples for the horses!

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