The hotel is run as a non profit organisation, with the aim of assisting people seeking to do the most good they can with their time and other resources (following the principles of Effective Altruism) by providing them with low cost living arrangements. See here for a detailed outline of the project.
17 bedrooms (3 single rooms, 2 twin rooms, 10 double rooms, 2 dorm rooms), 12 with en suite.
Bar with seating for 40, dining room that seats 32, and lounge with seating for 12. Whiteboards*, projector and printer. Bookshelves (please bring books to add that you think guests will enjoy). The stereos in the common areas have Bluetooth adaptors attached. To use, press and hold the button on the top of the dongle until you hear “waiting for connection”, then connect to RT-B6 on your Bluetooth-enabled device (phone, laptop, tablet etc). Please switch off your Bluetooth after use to allow others to connect (it automatically connects if you leave your Bluetooth on).
Meals, laundry, cleaning, bedding, towels and basic toiletries provided (provided in the rooms are toilet paper, hand wash, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, ear plugs, eye masks. On the shelves out the back of the kitchen are more of the room supplies, plus painkillers, anti-histamines, supplements, tampons, moisturiser, nail scissors).
Exercise equipment (behind the bar) – yoga mats, pull up bar, gymnastic rings, parallettes, juggling balls. Please limit long workouts in the bar to before 1200 on weekdays so as not to disrupt others’ work.
Beach stuff (behind the bar are mats, inflatables, towels, games, balls, flip-flops, goggles. By the front door are sunglasses, sunscreen, and umbrellas).
Lost and found – in a box behind the bar.
High lumen overhead daylight lighting (5,500 lumens per LED ceiling tile, 11,000 lumens in bar); soft on-wall/lamp-based evening lighting.
All food provided by the hotel is vegan, and is free of charge. There is a self-service buffet in the dining room for breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Cooked dinners based on a set menu will be provided in the evening between 7 and 8pm. Please inform staff of any food allergies and intolerances. All food is communal, apart from that stored in plastic bags (in or outside the fridges and freezers). Guests are permitted to consume non-vegan food on the premises, but they will have to purchase and prepare it themselves (please store non-vegan food in labelled bags). Food & drink preparation facilities for guests are limited to a toaster, hot water machines and a combi microwave/grill/oven/streamer and air fryer in the buffet area, and kettles in the bedrooms (feel free to take tea and coffee up to rooms to use with kettle there – use the provided grip-seal bags). The fridge, freezer, cupboards and shelves in the buffet are stocked with buffet food for communal use; the fridge, freezer, cupboards and shelves in the kitchen are reserved for storage and dinner recipe items, please do not eat stuff from them. Please leave dirty dishes on the tray trolley by the buffet.
Cleaning & Laundry
Laundry baskets are provided in the bedrooms. Self service laundry is available outside dinner prep hours (as you have to go through kitchen to get to the washing machine and dryer).
Cleaning is done weekly Tuesday to Thursday from 10am, downstairs first and then rooms (from ~1200), with beds made with fresh sheets and towels changed (each floor of rooms is done on alternate weeks). Please indicate with the door sign whether you want your room cleaned (or to not be disturbed).
Showers & Heating
The plumbing and heating system is somewhat antiquated. Hot water is only available with heating, and not on demand. To keep costs down, we have the hot water and heating set to go on 0630-1200, 1400-1500, 1700-1800, 2000-2100 and 2200-2300. Showers on the top floor are set to go on 0600-0800, 0900-1300 and 2000-2200. The showers are fed from hot water tanks, so if too many people have showers at once, the tanks run out of hot water and need to be re-heated from cold. Radiators in rooms can be adjusted by the room’s occupant.
Please ensure shower curtains are inside the shower tray to avoid flooding floors.
We have the fastest Wifi available in the area (76Mb/s), but have been finding that it can end up going slow with lots of people using it at once. Please limit video streaming to outside normal working hours, and use mobile data if you have free data available.
There is a first aid kit on the dining room wall. Also guidelines for helping someone having an acute mental health crisis.
Hotel guests are required to adhere to our Code of Conduct.
Guests must also agree to the Terms & Conditions of their stay at the hotel.
Please return your room key to the key board in the dining room, bring down any power outlet adapters, and check the lost and found box for anything you might’ve left, before you leave.
You can book a stay at the hotel here. Acceptance of guests is at the discretion of management. There are 4 tiers with different prices, for which spare rooms are prioritised in order:
- EA working on EA projects: free (subject to approval by the Board of Trustees if staying over a month)
- Visiting an EA (£5/night if sharing a room, £10/night otherwise)
- EA on holiday (/working on non-EA stuff): £10/night)
- Non-EA: market price (= £50/night double room, £25/night dorm bed
All prices include food (buffet breakfast, lunch and snacks, cooked dinner).
Travel to & from the hotel
The address is 36 York Street, Blackpool, FY1 5AQ, UK. Google Maps will provide good directions for driving or public transport. Coaches (Megabus or National Express) are generally cheaper than trains, but take about twice as long. Manchester is approx. 1-3 hours away, London, 3-7 hours (depending on mode of transport).
Manchester Airport is the closest international airport.
Car parking is free on the surrounding streets, but it is often hard to find a space during the summer, especially in the day time (although you can nearly always find one within a couple of minutes’ walk after driving around for a couple of minutes). There are car parks on York Street that charge £9/day.
For late arrival (after 2200), post to the “current guests” Facebook Messenger chat (you will be added on the day you are due to arrive) when you are outside. If no answer after a few minutes, knock or ring the bell.
Blackpool and the surrounding area
The beach is just two minutes’ walk from the hotel, it is 2.5km long and features 3 piers. Walks featuring long horizons are good for thinking. There are many tourist attractions nearby. There is also the picturesque and award winning Stanley Park just a mile inland. The national parks of the Lake District, and Yorkshire Dales, and several Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are also relatively nearby. Lancaster University – rated Top 10 in the UK – is relatively close by (30 miles by road). Manchester is a bit over an hour’s drive away, or an hour and a half on public transport.
See map below for a selection of local places serving vegan food (green [note there are also countless Fish & Chips takeaways serving chips, curry sauce, mushy peas]), pubs (purple), clubs (magenta), shops (orange), gyms (yellow) and tourist attractions (brown). The hotel is marked in blue.
Things To Do / Group Activities
Dinner in the dining room, daily at ~7pm.
Group meeting Fridays after dinner (~8pm): announcements, rotas, plan events, talks etc.
Exercise/yoga in the bar, (open windows, put ceiling fans on, move tables and chairs to back, put water jugs and glasses on table, music). See whiteboard in bar for schedule (currently on hiatus).
Pomodoros: 1400-1800 Mon-Fri in the bar.
Hackathon, book club/reading group/working group, peer debugging/Hamming circles.
Lightning talks (new guests are encouraged to give a lightning talk after dinner as an introduction), longer presentations/seminars/workshops.
Walk along the promenade/beach/piers, sitting on the beach steps at sunset, early-morning foot races on the beach, sea swimming, beach day (beach stuff behind bar).
Football, other sports, walking, in Stanley Park.
Cooking, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, board games, drinks in the bar.
Pub crawl, night clubbing.
Blackpool resort pass/tourist attractions.
There are group chat on Facebook Messenger for current guests – Casual chat and Important stuff – and a Facebook group for past, present and future guests, staff and trustees. You will be added to these when you book/arrive as appropriate. Social events are often planned in the Messenger chats.
“How are applications for free places for EAs processed?” For stays of 30 days or under, the Community Manger or any Trustee can make the decision. For stays over 30 days, Trustees and Advisors score the application on a scale relative to donating the cost of hosting to GiveDirectly (link). Space permitting, an estimated expected value of the proposed work of 1x donating the cost of the stay to GiveDirectly is the bar to acceptance. This bar rises with diminishing hotel capacity. Individual Trustees can veto applications. Trustees and Advisors can also contest applications, at which point there is further discussion and a decision made by the Trustees.”
“I’m from the US [/other non-EU country], can I get a visa for my stay?” Guests coming from the US can get a six month tourist visa. This was tested recently with someone arriving from the US. They got a six month tourist visa after the immigration officer asked Greg questions on the phone (they wanted to make sure their stay was paid for and that they wouldn’t be employed). Read about their account here. Hopefully we will be able to sponsor 12 month Tier 5 charity work visas in time, so it might be possible to then return home and come back on the 12 month Tier 5. This remains to be seen/tested though. Make sure to have a return flight booked.
If coming from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea or Taiwan, and aged 18-30, you can get a Youth Mobility Scheme visa. More details here from someone who has recently done this.
“How safe is Blackpool?” Blackpool is pretty safe. The crime rate is a bit higher than the UK average, but a lot of it is just antisocial behaviour (e.g. begging, street drunks). In experience so far it has been fine walking around at night, and not any worse than London or Manchester.
“Will there be any guidance in formulating projects?” It’s expected that guests will largely self-direct their own work, or work with on-site/remote collaborators (although there may be some guidance available, depending on the area of interest, and the number/availability of other people working in that area at the hotel). If starting something new, keep in mind this advice.
“I’d like to supplement my income with other, non-EA, work, whilst at the hotel as an ‘EA working on EA projects’, staying for free” guest, is this ok?” If working on revenue generating, non-EA, stuff, reducing the amount of funding by the proportion of time spent on the other stuff makes sense (if at the hotel this would come in the form of requiring the guest to pay something toward their stay). So if it was 25% of time spent on other stuff, and the cost of hosting is £5,700 a year (current best estimate), then that would mean paying £5,700/4 = £1425/year or £27.40 a week (which is pretty much just the £30 stipend being cancelled out). The limit of this for EAs is just the “EA on holiday” rate of £10/day + forgoing the £30/week stipend.)
“I have funding for my project/work/study, and/or significant savings, can I stay at the hotel for free?” If you are drawing a salary, or otherwise have a source of stable income, or have greater than 24 months’ runway, you will be asked to contribute toward your stay at the cost price of £10/day after the first 6 weeks (“first 6 weeks is pay what you feel it’s worth”). See Ts & Cs.
“I’m staying for free working on EA stuff, how can I get my stipend?” If you have a GBP (£) bank account, let us know the account number and sort code and we’ll set up a standing order. If you don’t have a GBP account, please set one up – Revolut is a phone app that is easy to set up and allows you to hold multiple currencies and convert between them commission free, at the market exchange rate (i.e. that shown by Google). If you are from the US, you aren’t able to open a Revolut account – let us know if you come by a solution for having a GBP account that doesn’t lose anything in conversion (i.e. not PayPal).
“I’m uncertain about dates for my stay (waiting on other applications/decisions). Can I get a flexible placement granted?” Please book dates you think you’d most likely be able to make. These can be amended at a later date subject to availability of rooms/beds (note that dorm beds are nearly always available, but private rooms are not).
“What is there in the way of quiet study space?” Most guest rooms have desks in. In terms of common space, there is the bar, dining room and lounge. So far most people have been using all of these areas to quietly work throughout the day (in the evenings there are communal dinners and games/socialising).
“Who is currently at the hotel?” See here.
“Can my partner stay?” Yes. If you are sharing a room and they are not working on EA stuff, they would be expected to contribute £5/day (to cover food and utilities). They can book here selecting the option “Double/Twin room (visiting an EA sharing a room with them) [£5/night]”.
“I have a question not answered here/have an inquiry/would like to offer a suggestion/feedback.” Please contact us here. To leave anonymous feedback, leave the email field blank. You can also use this form to report things that need fixing in your room or make a complaint.
“I would like to chat with you about a proposal for a free stay/have a look around the hotel.” You can book a call with one of the staff or trustees by following the links at the bottom of the contact page.
Number of guests over time:
(last updated: 4th May 2019)
Projects (List of things people have been/are/will be working on):
Setting up an x-risk strategy organisation.
Volunteering – working on hotel building.
Working on hotel building and day-to-day running of hotel.
Studying AI / Machine Learning.
Researching ways of incorporating subjective wellbeing into health care prioritisation for the next Global Happiness Policy Report.
Studying Machine Learning.
EA events organising, Human Welfare Taskforce, psychology research.
Moral philosophy thesis on the Demandingness Objection to Utilitarianism.
Transitioning to full-time AI safety research & engineering; reading, writing papers, coding, applying to AI safety grants and jobs.
EA London Retreats (Life Review Weekend, Careers Week, Holiday/EA Unconference).
Studying Computer Science, Maths, Philosophy.
Working on an app for Decision markets.
Anthropics and decision theory research.
Work for the Organisation for the Prevention of Intense Suffering.
Work for European Summer Program in Rationality.
Working on hotel administration.
Suffering-focused EA author collaborating with others.
Researching Infinite Ethics.
Researching Invertebrate Suffering.
Collaboratively setting up an x-risk strategy organisation (Convergence) (2 people).
Advising guests on fitness and hotel systems.
Writing books on AI (fiction) and Wild Animal Suffering (non-fiction).
Collaboratively distilling AI Safety material for an online course (Road to AI Safety Excellence) (4 people).
Studying Economics, revising for the GRE.
Studying philosophy, writing up explorations of EA related questions.
Collaboratively writing up AI Safety research (2 people).
AI strategy research.
AI Safety research.
Work for Rethink Priorities.
Responding to left-wing / Marxist critiques of EA.
Researching the systematisation of creating impactful organisations.
Programming, game/app development with a view to earning-to-give.
Internship at Animal Ethics – volunteer research.
Working with Convergence on ops (2 people).
Researching potential effects on society and x-risks from curing ageing.
Research on generalisability of causal effects (whether randomized trials done in one setting are informative for effectiveness in different settings).
Software engineering earning-to-give.