The Prince Rupert Hotel for the Homeless: A True Story of Love and Compassion Amid a Pandemic
‘There will be an avalanche of books about the pandemic. None will be as eye-opening or humane or moving as Lamb’s’ DAILY TELEGRAPH
A story of poverty, generosity and worlds colliding in modern Britain
When Covid-19 hit the UK and lockdown was declared, Mike Matthews wondered how his four-star hotel would survive. Then the council called. The British government had launched a programme called ‘ Everyone In ’ and 33 rough sleepers – many of whom had spent decades on the street – needed beds.The Prince Rupert Hotel would go on to welcome well over 100 people from this community, offering them shelter, good food and a comfy bed during the pandemic.
This is the story of how that luxury hotel spent months locked down with their new guests, many of them traumatised, addicts or suffering from mental illness. As a world-leading foreign correspondent turning her attention to her own country for the first time, Christina Lamb chronicles how extreme situations were handled and how shocking losses were suffered, how romances emerged between guests and how people grappled with their pasts together.
Unexpected and profound, heart-warming and heartbreaking, this is a tale that gives a panoramic insight into modern Britain in all its failures, and people in all their capacities for kindness – even in the most difficult of times.
Praise for The Prince Rupert Hotel For the Homeless -
”'A remarkable story… The virtue of this book is the time it takes to listen to and tell the stories of these guests, mostly in their words” - The Spectator
”''A story of extraordinary compassion in a difficult time” - The New Statesman
‘The hotel’s year of living compassionately is told with fleetness and gusto by Christina Lamb. Grounded by the pandemic, the Sunday Times chief foreign correspondent chanced upon the story while attending (via Zoom) a Woman of the Year lunch. Her byline usually pops up in the hottest of hotspots - Kabul or Aleppo or Dnipro. Shrewsbury looks like a bathetic entry on that list but, as she outlines in a blistering coda, the UK is far from free of problems that afflict the developing world. Her book is both journal and manifesto. There will be an avalanche of books about the pandemic. None will be as eye-opening or humane or moving as Lamb’s latest dispatch from the front line’Daily Telegraph -
‘This insightful account of a four-star establishment taking in rough sleepers amid the pandemic finds grounds for real if slender hope … [a] humane, humble book … a work of scrupulous reportage that offers no easy fixes, dispensing with sentimentality as it chronicles brutal backstories, tender dreams and profoundly disheartening patterns of behaviour while somehow finding grounds for real if slender hope. There is also farce and frustration, all of it building to a rallying cry for more investment in services and social housing’Observer, Book of the Day -
‘Inspirational … Lamb has interviewed many of the guests and fills us in on their often harrowing backgrounds, as well as what happened to them once lockdown ended … This moving and often very funny book suggests we could take a more imaginative general approach to helping the homeless - without waiting for another pandemic to galvanise us’Daily Mirror -