What’s a hotel stay like during coronavirus?
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This is a question you might ask yourself when considering your first weekend away post “lockdown”. Have you been umming and erring to whether you should go away or not? If so, our experience after a 1-night staycation in a UK hotel might help you make your mind up.
For a great resource on travelling at this time as a whole please check out Nomadic Matt’s article on coronavirus and travelling too.
So how do hotels differ during coronavirus?
These were our observations from a single one-night stay in The Dial House Hotel in The Cotswolds, a delightful 300 year old building, set back from the River Windrush.
So we noticed 10 differences based on our observations from a previous stay there:
1. One-way system through the hotel
On our previous visit we were able to enter the rear of the hotel from the car park. This time we were greeted by footprint stickers on the floor. It made it clear we needed to enter from the front of the hotel instead. No intimidating “EXIT ONLY” signs just a clear message to be courteous and enter via the main hotel entrance.
2. Hand sanitizer points in public areas
As soon as we approached the hotel’s entrance we saw a small table with clearly visible hand sanitizer, with accompanying signage.
You would like to think guests see this as a necessary “nice” touch and not anything to disgruntle anyone who might think “They’re FORCING me to use hand sanitizer”.
3. Footprint markers inside the hotel
Clear self-explanatory indicators on the floor served as a reminder to be courteous and keep our distance from the other guests. These weren’t in any way obtrusive and even now simply seem like the “new normal”.
4. Perspex covered hotel reception
It wasn’t fixed from desk to ceiling, as you might expect to see in a bank. Instead these perspex covers didn’t come across as too draconian, so as not to make you feel you were entering a maximum security stockade. They showed willing that the hotel was at least doing “something” rather than nothing.
In fact as the till was positioned in-between the 2 sheets of perspex I found myself lining up in the gap between the two dividers, somewhat defeating the object. My bad not necessarily theirs.
Some more optional santizer sat on reception too. At no point were we asked to use it. This is where the “new normal” comes in. People will start using such products out of courtesy and ultimately habit.
5. COVID precautions within our hotel room
There were no “obvious” noticeable differences apart from hand sanitizer soap dispenser on the basin. This was in addition to the usual Elemis lotions and potions on a nearby stool. But had there been hand sanitizer on the basin on our previous trip there? I just can’t remember now.
6. No specific COVID signage
There were no sheets of paper describing what had been done/not done in our room. There was no plastic wrapping around the remote control (a key touch point). Had it been cleaned? Maybe … but then there was nothing to suggest it hadn’t been cleaned either.
It’s a learning process for everybody in the travel industry but possibly a simple note saying “We have cleaned the taps, light switches and remote control for you” could have added a little reassurance?
But once again there was nothing too overly obtrusive to make you worry about being in the room in the first place.
7. Breakfast was served in bookable slots
Breakfast was a timetabled booked affair with “possibly” one less table in the dining room compared to our previous visit? Re-visiting a hotel you’ve already been to certainly helps you contrast and compare … but only if you can remember all the details!
On this visit we chose a time slot out of 8:15, 9:15 and 09:30. It felt a new system but in a small hotel with two small dining rooms it’s an improvement anyway. A simply method of preventing everyone turning up for breakfast at the same time. Either way, in these “Covid times” it had the effect of stemming the flow of guests for breakfast and seemed entirely sensible right now.
We certainly weren’t rushed by the staff but subconsciously we were keen to leave once we’d finished our full English and not stay sat inside for any longer than was necessary.
8. The serving staff wore protection
Our waitress was suitably dressed in a thin mask with disposable gloves. Nothing as intimidating as a full face plastic visor. But therein lies our acceptable risk levels. We were happy that she wore a mask and spoke to us from a safe distance. Others may feel more uncomfortable and expect extra protection.
Even so she still had to place the plates on the table and there’s no real other way of doing that, unless you self-serve at a buffet … and that has its own issues, perhaps even more so.
After a fellow guest left we witnessed the staff wiping down the chairs and table with anti-bacterial spray before re-setting the table.
9. People migrated towards the hotel’s outdoor areas
It was a relatively warm weekend so we sat outside the front of the hotel for afternoon drinks (a delicious Cotswolds co. cider in my case), and in the rear garden after our evening stroll. At no point did we feel the need to sit in any of the hotel’s inside spaces. In the Autumn/Winter maybe we’ll see an increase in patio heaters?
10 . The general vibe was relaxed with people being sensible
Would I go on another weekend “staycation” break. Yes. Would I feel comfortable? Yes. Would a slight unease creep in if the hotel was at capacity with more people coming and going. Probably.
In our case the hotel was 2/3 full at most and we felt perfectly safe as a result.
Can too many COVID safety signs be off-putting?
If the hotel staff had been walking around in HazMat suits that would have detracted from the whole experience and been a little off putting. However by wearing a simple mask and disposable gloves we deemed that sufficient. A full-face visor may have made us think about the whole situation a little more.
However had they been wearing no protection at all that might have made us feel uneasy in the other direction? IMHO a sensible balance is best.
The village had clear COVID-19 signage too
Walking around Bourton-on-the-Water there was signage on the railings, signage on the bollards and good indications to how you should keep left and 2m apart where possible. So once again nice subtle reminders, but ones you had no excuse for missing.
Maybe the village was fulfilling its ‘due diligence’, maybe covering their ‘Health & Safety” requirements, but either way it was nice to see it in place.
So are you now feeling slightly happier to head off for a hotel stay during coronavirus? I hope I’ve helped.
If you happen to visit Bourton-on-the-Water make sure you check out the Model Village and see a model village in a model village in a model village … in the village 🙂