It’s no secret that we’re all craving a summer holiday. After all, there’s nothing quite like four months inside to make you appreciate walking around in the fresh air and exploring something new.
But even though there’s talks of holiday destinations like Spain and Greece gearing up to welcome tourists, we’re focusing on the travel opportunities much closer to home. Which starts with the re-opening of hotels, bed and breakfasts and campsites in England and Wales this weekend on 4 July.
Travel experts such as Airbnb have been predicting that UK tourism is about to go through the roof for months, reporting that the top 10 most wish-listed properties for British users have been in the UK since lockdown began. So, the news that we will actually be able to take a staycation from this Saturday is more than a little exciting.
Although we admit we initially focused on elements like which Airbnb’s we’d most like to stay in or the coolest staycation hotels, we’ve gradually become preoccupied with questions over what these experiences will actually be like.
In a post-coronavirus world it makes sense that staying under the same room as potentially hundreds of other people is going to look and feel different to six months ago. We already know that other social events, such as weddings and the re-opening of pubs and restaurants, have changed dramatically. From not being able to sing at a wedding service, to no longer being allowed to order your drinks at the bar, new guidelines have been put in place to protect us all.
We’ve analysed the government’s advice and spoken to hotel managers to create a simple guide on how your next stay at a hotel will be different, so you know what to expect.
What are the government’s new guidelines for hotels?
The government has issued a lengthy set of guidelines and information for hotel owners and managers to use in order to keep guests and staff safe. This means that walking into a hotel lobby for the first time might feel slightly different than before, so read up on the main rules below.
- Safety screens in reception areas.
- Speedier check-in to avoid large groups of people waiting in the lobby.
- Reduced number of people allowed in a lift or restrictions on entering a lift.
- Handling physical money is advised against so hotels are encouraged to add tips to your bill.
- Room service is encouraged as opposed to an in-house restaurant and it should be dropped off outside the door instead of brought inside.
- Areas such as door handles will be cleaned much more frequently.
- Guests may be asked to wear face masks when not in their rooms.
- Hotel bar areas will use table service and social distancing.
- Social distance markers may be put on the floor in high traffic areas such as toilets or reception.
- Windows and doors will be opened where possible to encourage ventilation.
How are hotels feeling about all this?
Understanding the basic government guidelines is all well and good, but to get a fuller picture we spoke to a hotel manager to understand how those working in the hospitality industry are preparing to re-open.
Speaking to Stylist.co.uk, managing director of The Swan Hotel in the Lake District, Sarah Gibbs, says: “There have been challenges on every level during coronavirus. We’ve been working hard to write and implement procedures and disseminate these to the wider team. Then there’s been the practicalities of functioning on a socially distant basis. I’m sure all businesses are facing a cashflow squeeze and the associated calculation of ensuring that opening and operating on a limited basis is financially viable.”
But Sarah is excited to re-open this weekend. “We’ve been in communication with guests to make sure they feel comfortable and happy to come and visit. There’s been a lot of changes to make and work to be done but we’re ready for 4 July,” she says.
Eric Snaith, chef owner of Titchwell Manor in Norfolk, also says that procedures will be put in place to ensure that guests and staff are kept safe.
Although guests won’t be temperature tested these facilities will be available if they wish to use them. Similarly, guests won’t be questioned on who in their party lives together, but if circumstances call for it staff may need to ask certain details, which is all part of keeping everyone in the hotel safe.
“We hope to welcome a full capacity of guests but we will have to open up gradually in order stay safe. We’re lucky as many of our rooms can be accessed from outside, so we have re-planned our check in process to an extent to ensure that guests won’t have to stand in the same area for too long, and after check-in they will be able to enter their rooms for outside the property,” he explains of re-opening plans to Stylist.co.uk.
To give you an idea of the type of procedures being put in place, guests at The Swan Hotel, for example, won’t be asked to wear face masks, have their temperature tested or be questioned on how many people in their party are from the same household. However, they will be asked to sign a health declaration.
Cleanliness measures will also mean housekeeping will have extra duties and identified high-frequency touchpoints will be sanitised hourly. Guests also won’t be able to use facilities like the pool or sauna, a move which has been encouraged for all hotels around the country.
How can I keep myself safe while visiting a hotel?
If you’re keen to be as active in your avoidance of coronavirus and also keeping others safe, there are some simple actions you can take which are listed below.
- Wear a face mask in public spaces like for check-in or in the corridors.
- Avoid small spaces shared with other guests like lifts.
- Any hotel dining facilities will be re-worked to ensure social distancing is observed and separate guests aren’t sitting face to face, but if this still makes you feel anxious opt for room service.
- Many hotels have been advised to close their pools but to be on the safe side don’t pack your swimming costume this time.
- Wear disposable gloves while entering and leaving the premises to avoid touching door handles that others have used.
- Carry hand sanitiser with you so that if you do touch doors handles or objects others have handled, you can clean your hands quickly.
- Avoid picking up menus or newspapers that others may have used.
- Opt to use the toilet in your room and avoid the main public bathroom downstairs.
Images: Getty / Unsplash