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A Hotel Stay Post COVID-19 Lockdown Is a Different Scene

Liz and her husband, frequent travelers, have stayed in many hotels. They visited Yorkshire when hotels reopened post-lockdown in the UK.

Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster, UK.

Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster, UK.

Why Travel Now?

Like many people, I had got used to lockdown and felt safer staying at home than venturing out. Travel of any kind, especially involving a hotel stay, seemed like a risk too far. But we had a hotel stay booked pre-COVID-19. With hotels due to reopen in the UK in early July 2020, we had to decide—either use it or lose it. Well, you can probably guess which option we chose.

As the old English saying goes: 'In for a penny, in for a pound' and, after a few clicks on the laptop, a two-night stay in Ilkley had grown into a 13-night tour of Yorkshire, staying in seven hotels and catching up, socially distanced of course, with friends and family along the way.

Our tour started and ended at the Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster (four nights altogether). As we had stayed here previously, we came away with a clear 'before' and 'after' view of the changes this hotel has made as a result of COVID-19.

Post COVID-19 Travel

Let's Go

Join us, as we explore the impact of COVID-19 on a stay at Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster.

  1. First Impressions.
  2. Check-In.
  3. Getting Around the Hotel.
  4. Our Rooms.
  5. Breakfast.
  6. The Gym.
  7. On the Bright Side.
  8. Small Perks.
  9. Post-COVID Travel Tips.
  10. Final Thoughts.

1. First Impressions

As we approached Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster, there was little, from a distance, that differed from our previous visits. The roads were quieter than usual, but then again it was a Sunday afternoon. There were very few cars in the hotel car park. But if we needed any reminder that the world had changed, all we had to do was glance at the hotel entrance.

The Entrance Got a COVID-19 Makeover

As you can see in the before-and-after photos above, big signs over the entrance doors—'IN' and 'OUT'—clearly indicated a one-way system. Chalk markings on the ground encouraged social distancing. There was a hand sanitizer by the door and there was an abundance of COVID-19-related signage inside the entrance.

2. Check-In

Before

On our first visit, in October 2018, we walked into a modern, high-ceilinged atrium, quickly spotting the reception area, which was set to one side. Across from it, there was a coffee bar area and a row of comfortable sofas. We could glimpse the racecourse through the windows at the back of the hotel, past the bar area and restaurant entrance. There was a business area to the side of the reception desk with computer access.

The atmosphere was relaxed. We were greeted warmly and check-in was quick and efficient. There was some small talk, vouchers were given for breakfast in the restaurant and a later checkout was discussed. This was what check-ins used to be like.

After COVID-19

We dutifully used the hand sanitizer before entering. Once through the door, we were greeted at a distance by security with a clipboard. Our name was checked off and we were directed along a roped-off path towards reception. The sofas opposite reception were nowhere to be seen. The receptionists were shielded behind screens and access was barred to the business area and computers nearby.

There were markings on the floor in front of the reception desk, to encourage social distancing. Our details were confirmed as usual. The receptionist carefully wiped two branded pens, before pushing them towards us with two new COVID forms for us to complete and unusually asking us both to sign the check-in form.

We each had to answer questions about COVID-19. Had we had any symptoms, tested positive, or been with anyone who had developed symptoms or tested positive in the past 14 days? I wondered what the response would be if we answered 'Yes' to any of the questions, but I wasn't going to find out. It struck me that the system depended a lot on guests being honest with their answers.

Forms duly completed on a high table nearby and handed back, a little normality ensued. Keycards were handed over in a wallet and we were given two bottles of water, before being directed towards the lifts, where more changes awaited us.

3. Getting Around the Hotel

Lifts

There were hand sanitizers outside the lifts on every floor, as well as clear signage about the new lift etiquette. No more squeezing into packed lifts at busy times of the day. Usage was restricted to one household only. No shortage of room for luggage now. I wondered if we might experience increased waiting times for lifts, as a result of the restrictions. But a combination of low guest numbers and use of rooms on lower floors meant that we never had a problem. There was the option of taking the stairs too.

Corridors

Before COVID-19

We first visited this hotel within weeks of its opening in 2018. Corridors were painted in a light color and brightly lit with a modern feel to them. There was minimal signage and no notices stuck on the walls.

Corridor of Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster, October 2018.

Corridor of Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster, October 2018.

After COVID-19

The bright, airy feel to the corridors had been altered somewhat by the proliferation of COVID signage that had appeared on the walls. There was even a reminder to wash your hands on the door into the corridor from the lift area. There was certainly no excuse here for forgetting COVID social distancing and handwashing/sanitizing protocols.

4. Our Rooms

Before

Previous visits to Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster had seen us assigned king rooms with racecourse views on the 7th and 5th floors. The rooms were modern, spacious, and well-equipped. Large full-length windows made the most of the racecourse view. Each room had an armchair so that guests could take in the view while sitting in comfort. A long desk area, complete with swivel office chair, also housed a small fridge and a safe below it. The light wood fitted furniture, combined with the cream and mushroom painted walls to give the rooms a modern and contemporary feel.

Each room had a fully tiled, generous sized shower room, equipped with modern white fixtures and a large walk-in shower.

After

We were assigned a Queen family room with a racecourse view at the end of the 2nd floor. The window was smaller and higher, as there was a parapet and flat roof area outside. We were surprised to see a cameraman along from our window (more about that later). It turned out that, due to low occupancy and it being the second night the hotel had reopened, only this floor was in use.

Spot the Difference

The armchair was replaced by a sofa bed to accommodate a family and the bed was smaller than those on the 7th and 5th floors previously. A bedside table was missing. A manager later explained that this was Hilton policy post-COVID-19. One less surface to worry about I guess. Its absence was inconvenient over the 3 nights we were there.

Other Changes

Tea and coffee facilities were well stocked, as housekeeping would not be routinely entering rooms during guest occupancy. New cleaning protocols meant that after guests checked out, rooms were left for 3 days before housekeeping cleaned them and prepared them for the next guests. On more than one occasion we used our own bin liner to collect rubbish and then left it in an open cleaner's room.

Mugs had been replaced by disposable cups, which became unpleasant after a few drinks. Disposable beakers replaced glasses and instead of spoons, there were disposable stirrers. More cups and drinks, along with clean towels, toiletries were obtainable from reception. Out of the 7 hotels that we stayed in, only 2 (Hampton by Hilton and Ramada) had proper cups.

All collateral had been removed. There was no hardback book about Doncaster on the table, no menus, or printed hotel information. Even the customary notepad and pen had disappeared, although the receptionist seemed only too happy for us to keep the pens that we had contaminated while signing in downstairs.

Well-stocked, but disposables are not the same.

Well-stocked, but disposables are not the same.

9 Days Later

Our second post-COVID-19 stay, saw us go up a floor. Room 310 was a King racecourse view. We had the armchair, full-length window, bedside table, and larger bed, as with our earlier stays, all be it on a lower floor. But the disposable cups were still a feature.

Thoughts on Our Post-COVID Rooms

Despite the minor changes in the rooms outlined above, it was possible to shut ourselves away in our room at Hilton Garden Inn and feel relatively safe and secure. Surprisingly so, given all the disruption caused by COVID-19 in the previous few months. The rooms were of the same good quality as before. We could almost kid ourselves that life was getting back to normal, apart from the helpful reminder on the back of the shower room door. Just in case we had forgotten how to wash our hands.

How to wash your hands.

How to wash your hands.

5. Breakfast

One of the high points of a hotel stay for us is the hotel breakfast. Forget the rushed bowl of cereal and a quick cup of tea at home. Nothing quite beats a hotel breakfast buffet, where you can linger and eat as much as you want, so much so that often we don't require any lunch. Of all the hotels we have stayed in, Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster came (note the use of the past tense) high up the list for its good breakfast offering.

The table is set for breakfast with a racecourse view.

The table is set for breakfast with a racecourse view.

Before

We were greeted warmly, offered a choice of seats, and given a guided tour of the breakfast buffet. There was a choice of complimentary newspapers and one was brought to our table. We chose a seat by the full-length window for a view of the racecourse.

The list of breakfast options was impressive. Whether you wanted a light option or the full works, it was all there. There was a choice of 3 juices or water and a selection of hot drinks available. There were 7 different kinds of cereal to choose from. Savory cold options included cheese, beef, ham, salami, and chorizo. A range of fresh fruit, apples, pears, bananas, oranges, melon, pineapple, and watermelon was available in a cold section as well as yogurts and toppings.

A good selection of hot items, including sausages, bacon, mushrooms, baked beans, fried eggs were on offer. A chef was on hand to cook poached eggs to order and make bespoke omelets.

The bakery selection was well-covered with bread, croissants, bagels, and rolls. There was also the Hilton specialty, the waffle maker, with a range of toppings. It took a little trial and error, but we managed to produce half-decent waffles in the end.

The staff were very attentive throughout. The atmosphere was relaxed and the whole experience got the day off to a good start.

After

We knew that breakfast would be significantly different post-COVID. Self serve buffets were out of the question. Maybe table service would be an option. Far from it. Imagine our disappointment, when we arrived, to discover that a 'Breakfast To Go' bag could be collected from reception in the morning. But, encouraged somewhat by our previous positive breakfast experience, we hoped for the best.

Any hopes of a filling breakfast were dashed when my husband returned from reception the following morning with two paper bags. One contained a smoothie, croissant, butter, apple, yogurt, muesli bar, milk, sugar, disposable cutlery, napkin, and stirrers. The other was similar but for the addition of a piece of cheese and a carton of juice. He collected coffees, served by a staff member from a machine.

Some mornings the croissant was replaced by a muffin and the piece of fruit or muesli bar varied. There was no sight of a newspaper anywhere.

Our Solution

When we realized, on arrival, that breakfast was more limited than expected, we brought up a box of cereals, long-life milk, disposable bowls, and spoons from the car, originally intended for use in hotels where breakfast wasn't included. We later had to make a supermarket trip to replenish our supplies, but at least we felt set for the day. It gave us a chance to buy a newspaper too.

9 Days Later

At check-out (first time round) we were asked how our stay had been. We expressed disappointment at the breakfast offering. A staff member was sympathetic and thought that a breakfast service might be in place by the end of the following week. "That's good", we said. "We'll be back then to try it out". No such luck. Breakfast in a bag was still on offer 9 days later when we returned.

The joys of breakfast in a bag second stay around.

The joys of breakfast in a bag second stay around.

Food and Drink

We hadn't planned on eating any meals in the hotel, so the restricted options did not affect us. Tables had to be reserved at reception for the Garden Grill Bar, where table service was in place for a limited capacity from 3.00 pm until 10.30 pm. The plan was to adjust the food and beverage service as government guidelines changed.

Compared With Other Hotels

To be fair, grab and go breakfast bags featured in other hotels we visited (Best Western, Hampton by Hilton). Holiday Inn offered a choice of hot options in the bag (bacon or sausage bap. mushroom and cheese toastie). Jurys Inn suggested a continental breakfast delivered to your door. Ramada appeared to be serving breakfast and we enjoyed two cooked breakfasts in a restaurant in a Best Western Plus hotel. We pre-booked a table and a staff member served everything to our table, whilst wearing a visor. The evening meal was a similar affair.

Each hotel was trying to find a path through the new post-COVID government guidance.

6. The Gym

Before

The gym at Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster is by no means the biggest and, covering the area of around two bedrooms, is perhaps more accurately described as a 'mini-gym'. It consisted of 2 treadmills, a cross trainer, a bike, a low bike, a mat, a bench and a selection of weights. It has served me well in the past and, as I was always the only one in there, it felt more like my own private gym.

After

Following government guidelines, the gym was closed during our post-COVID stays in Doncaster. To add insult to injury, our first 3 nights were in a room at the end of the 2nd-floor corridor, so I had to walk past the closed gym several times each day. Since our visit, gyms have been allowed to reopen, so hopefully, hotels will be reopening theirs too. It's probably best to check before you travel.

The gym is closed.

The gym is closed.

7. On the Bright Side

Racing From Doncaster

In past stays, we have looked out onto Doncaster racecourse, without a horse in sight, and wondered what a race day would be like. As hotel prices tend to rise in line with demand and race day stays would cost a premium, we never expected to witness horse racing from our room.

COVID-19 has changed all that. Along with other events in the UK, horse race meetings were initially canceled at the height of the pandemic. They have since restarted behind closed doors. We soon realized the reason for the cameraman outside our window. He was filming racing from Doncaster for the punters sitting at home to see on TV.

Now I've never been a horse racing fan, but I have to admit that it was an interesting spectacle to observe and a first for us from a hotel window. Never having placed a bet on a race in my life, it got me checking the time of the next race on my smartphone, so we didn't miss the action.

8. Small Perks

In the early days of hotels reopening, prices and points redemption levels have been significantly lower than normal to encourage hesitant guests to book. You could also say that this reflects the reduced amenities currently available.

In the UK, the government has reduced Value Added Tax in the hospitality sector from 20% to 5% until January 2021. Not all providers will pass the benefit on to their guests, but it should mean lower prices.

Keen to retain previous regular guests, Hilton, along with other brands, has protected members of its loyalty scheme. To reflect hotel closures during COVID-19, tier status, which carries added benefits with it, has been extended for 12 months. This should keep regular travelers with Diamond or Gold status happy, as they otherwise could have seen a drop in status and benefits.

Have You Changed Your Mind?

9. Post-COVID Travel Tips

If you are planning a post-pandemic trip, here are a few tips that might help.

  1. Continue to be COVID-aware, stick to the advice about hand-sanitizing/washing and the use of masks. Don't let your guard down.
  2. Stock up on COVID essentials. Take a supply of disposable masks*, hand sanitizer, and anti-bacterial wipes.
  3. Plan your trip with care. Check what will be open in the hotel and also nearby. You will probably have to pre-book time-slot admissions to nearby attractions (if they are open) and tables at restaurants.
  4. Don't expect the same levels of service in your hotel as you were used to before COVID-19.
  5. Don't pay for breakfast. If it comes in a bag, it's probably not worth it.
  6. Take a supply of food and drink with you to avoid going hungry.

* Disposables are probably not the most environmentally friendly, but washing reusable masks at high temperatures might not be convenient while away.

COVID-19 travel pack.

COVID-19 travel pack.

10. Final Thoughts

Our Yorkshire tour took us from Doncaster to Ilkley, central Bradford, Brighouse, the outskirts of Bradford, Leeds, and Wakefield, before returning to Doncaster. We stayed in a variety of brands: Best Western Plus, Jurys Inn, Holiday Inn, Best Western, Hampton by Hilton and Ramada, as well as the Hilton Garden Inn.

It gave us a chance to compare COVID responses. As you would expect, there were many similarities. Screens at reception, social distancing floor markings, hand sanitizer dispensers, an abundance of COVID-related signage, and enhanced cleaning protocols were commonplace, as well as rooms no longer being routinely cleaned during stays.

It will be interesting to see how many COVID-induced changes become permanent. Will the screens and sanitizers be there to stay? Prior to COVID, some hotels were incentivizing guests not to have their rooms cleaned mid-stay with offers of brand loyalty points. Will the daily housekeeping service ever return? And what about the breakfast buffet? Will we ever see its like again?

On our part, we were inclined to be a little more tolerant. It felt like the hotels were doing us a favor, having us stay there. So we were much more inclined to let things go without questioning them, grateful for the opportunity to get away, see family, and have a change of scene.

I set out with more than a little reluctance and trepidation. I was concerned about the risks of venturing out into the post-COVID hotel world. I am pleased to report that we completed our trip safely. Having tried it successfully, I am now more confident to book other hotels in the future. Foreign travel will have to wait a little longer.

I hope this article has been of use to you, especially if you are wondering about booking a hotel in our new post-pandemic world. Stay safe.

A New Day Dawning.

A New Day Dawning.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Liz Westwood

Comments

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on September 17, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Eman. I was reassured to find how much care was being taken in hotels to limit the spread of COVID-19. It would cause major problems if a virus outbreak could be traced back to a specific hotel.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on September 17, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Bill. I don't think we will be venturing outside the UK until there is a vaccine. There is too much uncertainty and risk attached to foreign travel at the moment. The travel/hospitality industry is going to take a long time to recover.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on September 17, 2020:

Sorry to hear that, Robert. It will be interesting to read about your quarantine experience. I hope it goes okay.

Robert Sacchi on September 01, 2020:

I'm going to have to spend the Labor Day weekend in New York. I won't be staying at a hotel. I'll be under house arrest err mandatory quarantine. I won't be having anything good to say about that place.

Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on September 01, 2020:

Very interesting to see how hotels are handling COVID over there. Although we have not ventured far enough to warrant a hotel stay I would imagine hotels here are doing the same. We are still unsure about staying in a hotel just yet. Perhaps next year and after a vaccine? It is good to know that the hotel industry is stepping up and making changes to insure the safety of customers. I hope things return to normal soon as both hotels and airlines will not be able to survive forever with the reduced demand.

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on August 31, 2020:

It is a useful article and interesting to read as well. I think that such hotels and many other places take these measures to prevent and limit the spread of the virus and they are good measures.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 20, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Brenda. I was very interested to hear how you found the Marriott. I think it is going to be a while before normal service resumes and travellers return in significant numbers.

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on August 20, 2020:

Liz,

This is interesting.

You are right that a few things are different now since Covid-19.

I recently stayed at a Marriott...suddenly no buffet breakfast included. No perks to speak of unless you want to count the discount you were given if you turned down room cleaning during your stay.

Not alot of travelers either.

Have a great day.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 19, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, RoadMonkey. I was wary of staying in a hotel again when they reopened. I now feel more confident about doing so again, should the need arise. We are using our own car these days. Public transport, flying and foreign travel are not on the horizon yet for us.

RoadMonkey on August 19, 2020:

Very interesting. I used to stay at a lot of hotels when I was working but very seldom now I am retired. It's good to know what to expect. This was a very informative and useful article.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 18, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Umesh. I hope that this article is a help to anyone who is considering a hotel stay at this time. We were reassured by the precautions that the hotel had put in place for the safety of guests and staff.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on August 18, 2020:

Very informative in the present scenario. Well explained.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 18, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Rachel. When we ventured out, COVID-19 had taken centre stage. It seemed appropriate to pass on the information about how hotels have changed in order to protect guests and staff.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 18, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Sherry. It wasn't a trip that I was in a hurry to make. But once we were there and I realised what an impact COVID-19 was having on hotel protocols, it seemed like a good idea to write about the experience, so that others could learn from it.

Rachel L Alba from Every Day Cooking and Baking on August 17, 2020:

Even though we had not planned on going anywhere, this cinched the deal. Thank you for all of your thoughts and pictures, they were a great help and you featured every detail. Please stay safe.

Sherry Haynes on August 16, 2020:

Your comparison of before and now clearly shows what's happening in the outside world. The post-covid travel tips, are especially helpful.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 16, 2020:

Thanks for the extra information, Gregory. It's good to hear that the hotel will survive in these extremely challenging times. Only today I heard from a friend about redundancies that are being made in her company as a result of the economic climate. She echoed a thought of mine in wondering whether life will ever return to what it was like before the pandemic. I hope the Handley Hotel survives.

Gregory DeVictor from Pittsburgh, PA on August 16, 2020:

I am correcting something about my previous post. The Handlery Hotel is on the south side of Geary Street between Powell and Mason Streets. Technically, this area is not Union Square any longer, but it is a “gray area” between Union Square and the upper Tenderloin. The Tenderloin has been San Francisco’s “skid row” for decades, and has been a mecca for crime, drugs, and homelessness.

Gregory DeVictor from Pittsburgh, PA on August 16, 2020:

Liz, here is one more quote from the KGO video that I have previously referenced. It will show you how the pandemic affected one well-established hotel in San Francisco. For your information, the Handlery Hotel is on Geary Street in SF’s Union Square neighborhood. (I’ve seen the facade of the building a number of times, but was never impressed with it.)

Here is the quote:

“Laura Handlery said she is one of the only employees inside the Handlery Hotel these days.

‘My great grandfather opened this hotel, it's been passed onto three generations,’ she said.

The hotel remains closed and about 90 staff members have been furloughed.

‘It breaks my heart, some of the housekeepers used to babysit me and my siblings, I miss them, I want them back along with our guests,’ said Handlery.

Handlery says her family's hotel will survive.

The biggest question is when can hotels reopen. The mayor's office says as long as San Francisco remains on the state's COVID-19 watch list, all reopening plans are on pause.”

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 16, 2020:

Thanks for sharing that, Gregory. It's interesting to see how hotels there are preparing to reopen and encouraging to read that they have thought out new protocols to protect their guests. The hospitality industry is going to take a long time to recover.

Gregory DeVictor from Pittsburgh, PA on August 16, 2020:

Liz, this is a quote from KGO’s article regarding the new safety measures that are being considered:

“San Francisco hotels are gearing up to welcome tourists back to the city by the bay, but only when it's safe. When the city allows it, hotels will be ready with a new set of guidelines for the health and safety of guests and employees.

Kelly Powers from the Hotel Council of San Francisco says the pandemic has been devastating on the hotel industry. She says the council has developed new clean and safe protocols for guests and employees when doors reopen again. Some of them include:

Requiring the use of hand sanitizer and wearing masks.

Employees should avoid touching car and taxi doors.

All valet services suspended

One person or party allowed on elevators

Use the stairs when possible

Room cleaning should follow Cal/OSHA and CDC guidelines”

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 15, 2020:

There is no doubt, Robert, that COVID-19 is an unprecedented event that has caused a lot of disruption and harm globally. It has given much work to statisticians and others doing case studies. It will continue to do so for many years to come.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 15, 2020:

Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Gregory. I rarely use 2 polls, but on this occasion it has been interesting to see if, having read the article, readers changed their minds. The definitely not option reduced by more than 50%, although I think we have a long way to go before guest/traveller confidence is restored.

I was fortunate to have stayed previously at the Hilton Garden Inn and to have taken a lot of photos, hoping to write a review. Little did I know when I took the photos before, what the future would hold.

I think the 3 day vacancy of rooms before cleaning will change. The Holiday Inn which we stayed in had remained open for keyworkers. They used an enhanced cleaning procedure to turn rooms over quicker.

I am interested to hear how the hotel industry is dealing with this elsewhere. Are hotels in San Francisco closed due to state restrictions? Most in the UK had to close from March til early July due to government measures. Only those offering accommodation to keyworkers or, in some cases, the homeless, as arranged by councils, remained open. Or are hotels closed due to lack of business or the requirement to put in place safety measures?

Robert Sacchi on August 15, 2020:

There seems many opportunities for good case studies because of the Coronavirus.

Gregory DeVictor from Pittsburgh, PA on August 15, 2020:

Liz, this is a very timely and fascinating article. Yes, every aspect of a hotel stay now must be diametrically opposed to what it used to be. The polls were especially interesting. I noted that in the first poll, only 11% of the readers saw no problem in booking a hotel stay. Then, I noticed that in the second poll, the number had increased to 18%. I was glad to see that.

You have an image with the caption: “The table is set for breakfast with a racecourse view.” That is an awesome photo of the dining area with the racecourse.

You wrote: “New cleaning protocols meant that after guests checked out, rooms were left for 3 days before housekeeping cleaned them and prepared them for the next guests.” That is quite surprising.

Last week, KGO ABC-7 San Francisco did an article about the health and safety measures that will have to be implemented before Bay Area hotels can welcome visitors back. It’s quite a process. (Some of the hotels in SF’s famed Union Square have closed temporarily.)

Once again, you have written another in-depth article.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 15, 2020:

That's a good point. Several weeks ago a friend demonstrated a mask that his wife had made for him on zoom. We commented that he looked like a bank robber. As job losses mount up and hardship increases, desperate people could be forced to turn to crime.

Robert Sacchi on August 15, 2020:

It would be interesting to see how the crime rate goes. Surveillance cameras seem of little use when everyone is wearing a mask.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 15, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Jeremiah. We have all been forced to adapt our lifestyles to take account of COVID-19. In the last few days the fear of quarantine has made British travellers rush back from France and other countries now on the government quarantine list.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 15, 2020:

Time will tell, Robert. It will be interesting to see where we are in 12 months time. We have to hope that a solution will be found, especially bearing in mind all those whose jobs have gone or are at risk. I think face masks will be standard apparel for a long time to come.

JEREMIAH MWANIKI KILUNDA from Nairobi on August 15, 2020:

COVID-19 is going nowhere. We should learn how to live with it. But quarantine is traumatizing. A nice article.

Robert Sacchi on August 15, 2020:

The reality is Coronavirus is here to stay. The question is does everyone want to accept quarantine for life?

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 15, 2020:

Let's hope so. Although I am a little wary of statistics. New Zealand did well to wipe it out for a while, but now they have some new cases and further lockdowns.

Robert Sacchi on August 14, 2020:

The mortality rate is dropping overall. It could be the virus is mutating to a less deadly form. I haven't read anybody explain why countries like Singapore and Israel have very low mortality rates.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 13, 2020:

You make a good point. The thought of this continuing indefinitely is a dismal prospect. There is currently talk of a country rolling out a vaccine, which has skipped many testing stages. In that scenario we risk getting ourselves in a worse situation than we are now.

In the UK several months ago, an alternative to finding a vaccine was put forward as finding an effective treatment. Ideally both would be good. But we might have to settle for just one of these.

Robert Sacchi on August 13, 2020:

Keep in mind while there is a lot of talk about when they'll get a vaccine until they confirm they have one it's all idle speculation. Historically all attempts at a vaccine for a coronavirus have been frustrated.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 13, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Robert. We have a couple of local trips in the pipeline, but nothing planned for 2021 or outside the UK yet. A lot hangs upon the development of a vaccine and its widespread roll out. Maybe then we will all feel a little more confident about travelling. How are things in the airline industry where you are? Airlines are struggling here.

Robert Sacchi on August 12, 2020:

You're the one to report whether 2021 will have hotels in the status quo ante or new normal mode.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 11, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Robert. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that, despite my concerns before we went, this trip went well. The changes were reassuring for guests. Only time will tell as to how many become permanent practice in hotels.

Robert Sacchi on August 11, 2020:

Thank you for your courage so you can post this timely article. It will be interesting to see how many of these Covid-19 changes will end up becoming permanent.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 11, 2020:

Thank uou for your comment, Rochelle. It's reassuring to know that hotels are taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Rochelle Ann De Zoysa from Moratuwa, Sri Lanka on August 11, 2020:

Interesting information :) Pictures are nice too :) stay safe and God bless you!

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 10, 2020:

Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Lora. From the comments I have received I have gained a little insight into how things are in the US. It is now widely thought in the UK that our lockdown came too late to halt the spread of the virus and the death rate here has been shocking. Schools shut in March. Children of keyworkers had access so that their parents could continue to work and in June some year groups were allowed to return. The plan is for all children to be back in school after the summer holidays, but there is some debate as to how this will happen. Cases of COVID-19 have risen since general shops, pubs and restaurants reopened in July. It's a delicate balance between the health of people and the health of the economy. Whilst we might travel a little within the UK, primarily to see family, I don't see us going abroad for a long time yet. Stay safe Lora.

Lora Hollings on August 10, 2020:

Hi Liz, you did a great job in delineating the differences in your article between staying at a hotel before Covid-19 and now. It is truly a different world! No matter where you go, you are confronted with a new reality. Reading your article has certainly been enlightening about all the changes that hotels have made to keep people safer. The US hasn't done a good job with managing this virus and I think we are still quite a long way from seeing the numbers go down for most states. Most schools aren't letting students come back and will be conducting their classes online. In my state, that is now the current situation and I believe this is the case for most of the states here. In all candor, I don't feel safe in traveling right now. I think that a lot of things won't get back to normal for quite awhile yet. Right now, I look back and reminisce on the wonderful times that we did have traveling, and I don't know with all the changes that it might not make me think even more about this virus than I do already! Thank you for your excellent article and your photos were very informative as well. Take care and stay well, Liz.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 09, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Denise. We missed our granddaughet's 1st birthday, which was a shame. We had to make do with a zoom birthday party instead. It wasn't quite the same, but she won't remember it. I hope that by next year we can all travel to family events freely again. We took so much for granted before this happened.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 09, 2020:

Your before and after really help compare the merits of going on a trip today. I'd love to go and see my grandson for his first birthday but it seems too soon and I'm not brave enough to risk it yet. Maybe next year. Sad.

Blessings,

Denise

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 07, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Ivana. Having got out there and risked a hotel stay, I thought it would be a good idea to write an account of our experiences.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 07, 2020:

Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Sp Greaney. I wonder the same about how long hotels will keep up the thorough cleaning and COVID-19 safety measures. It would reflect poorly on a hotel if an outbreak could be traced back to it, so hopefully they will all stick to the new protocols. Their future business will depend upon it.

Ivana Divac from Serbia on August 07, 2020:

Wonderfully written article. It paints a reality we're all living in at the moment.

Sp Greaney from Ireland on August 06, 2020:

It's great to see a comparative between pre covid and post covid. It's very interesting to see how hotels have adapted to restrictions. They seem to have done ok overall. But only time will tell if they will remain diligent. I've still not done an overnight stay anywhere yet.

But after reading your article I feel a bit more secure in knowing they are doing the best they can.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 04, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Peggy. The UK has performed badly compared to many other countries. But the health service wasn't overwhelmed, as was feared and cases and deaths are much reduced since the peak at Easter.

The plan is for schools to return to start the school year after the summer in the UK, but the fear is that cases will rise as a result. Scaremongers are predicting all kinds of gloomy scenarios for the Autumn, including a second wave of COVID-19, banns on friends and families meeting up, even the 50+ age group having to shield at home.

Travel, as we remember it, seems a long way off, but, as you say, we can reminisce about past trips and dream of future ones. I hope you keep well.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 04, 2020:

Many countries, except for a very few, seem to be better in handling this Covid-19 crisis than we are at the moment. School systems are all deciding how or if they will be allowing students to come back or just tach them virtually. If there is an outbreak of infections at school, they may have to shut down anyway. I do not envy the parents having to make those weighty decisions! It seems that this pandemic is not an easy one to conquer until we have a widely distributed vaccine.

In the meantime, we can look back on our travels and dream of future ones! Stay safe!

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 03, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Denise. The whole travel scene has changed. It's not so much a relaxing break away, but more of a calculated risk. We each have to weigh up the circumstances in our area and work out whether the benefits outweigh the risk.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 03, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Mary. I think it will be a while before I feel comfortable on public transport. We have no plans to fly anywhere.

I have come across a few people who are travelling to France, by taking the Shuttle. They drive their cars onto a train, which takes them under the Channel to France in around 30 minutes, with no need to get out of their vehicle.

I hope that you enjoy your trip in September and that you are keeping well.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 03, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Bhavna. I hope that this article is helpful for anyone who has to travel and stay in a hotel.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 03, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Chris, and for sharing your experience. I was a reluctant traveler and it took some persuasion for me to get out. When we went away, numbers of COVID-19 cases had dropped a lot in the UK and the government considered it safe to reopen hotels. Everywhere we stayed I was impressed by the safety measures in place. In most cases, we were the first people in several months to use the rooms.

I think we were much more at risk the previous time we went away in March, a few days before lockdown. At that time the virus was rampant, little was known about it and there were no extra safety measures in hotels.

In recent weeks in the UK, our older friends are gradually getting out a little more, but taking safety precautions. Some families, stuck with working from home and homeschooling are trying to get away for a summer break. It's a scene that changes rapidly. Since our trip, the UK has seen spikes in localized areas and has responded with imposing restrictions to halt the spread of COVID-19.

From your comment and others that I have received from the USA, the situation sounds a little different where you are. I am certainly in no hurry to use public transport or travel abroad at the moment.

It's good to hear that you have managed to find a way of doing your job, whilst staying as safe as possible.

I often struggle to come up with a title to fit my articles. My use of 'post-COVID-19' is an attempt to compare what a hotel stay was like in normal times with what it's like after COVID-19 has hit. I agree with you that we're a long way from seeing the back of COVID-19 yet. In the meantime, I hope you stay safe.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on August 03, 2020:

Okay, wow. What a difference. I believe they have done their best to sanitize and keep their guests safe but I still would think twice about travel right now.

Blessings,

Denise

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 03, 2020:

I haven't stayed in a hotel since February, and I intend to keep it that way for the foreseeable future. I miss traveling, but I don't want to be on planes now. I have booked a place in September, which has two separate rooms for a friend and myself to maintain social distancing. My friend knows the person who owns this place, so we trust it.

Bhavna from India on August 03, 2020:

Informative content, thanks for sharing this and letting others know about it.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on August 02, 2020:

I have been nearly quarantined for fifteen weeks. I take short trips out for necessities. Otherwise, I spend my time alone. In my opinion, based on what I hear from the trustworthy media, now is not the time to be traveling, staying in hotels, and eating in restaurants. Anyone who does so is both risking being infected and potentially spreading the disease. I must now travel for my work. To do so safely, I purchased a travel trailer. I will stay in it during my contract when I am not working. When I am at work, I will social distance, wash my hands, and wear a mask. When I am not working, I will avoid crowded places. I will spend my free time outside, away from others. Welcome to "Post covid". It hasn't gone anywhere.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on August 02, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Priya. I feel a little more confident now about staying in a hotel, having tested a few out. I think we are all waiting for a vaccine and hoping that normality can return after that.

Priya Barua on August 02, 2020:

Thanks for presenting this article. I was wondering what would happen after COVID-19 to the tourism industry. Hopefully, things normalise in a year or so.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Linda. I think you echo the thoughts of the majority of people at the moment. It's going to be a while before confidence to travel increases. A vaccine would be a big game-changer, but it looks like that will be a while yet. When we travelled, numbers of cases were reducing. Since then the trend has reversed with spikes in some areas. There are fears of a second wave. Staying at home is most people's preferred option.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Uriel. I hope that things improve so that you can travel again soon. I was very wary before going, so it seemed like a good idea to publish my findings, as I was reassured by the measures the hotel had put in place.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Dora. It was a strange experience to revisit Hilton Garden Inn in these circumstances. The atmosphere was quite subdued and occupancy was very low. I was encouraged to find the procedures that had been put in place. It's certainly in a hotel's interests to keep their guests safe. Having done it once I am more confident, should I need to travel again.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Devika. I feel sorry for those who depend on the travel industry for their livelihood. Understsandably, businesses are desperate to attract travellers. There are good deals out there. Some will take the risk, probably most won't. Insurance is also a problem now.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Peggy. Even with the booking to use or lose, we found the decision quite difficult. At the time we decided to go, numbers were dropping rapidly, so things were a little more positive. We are now seeing rises and spikes again, which was probably predictable after many restrictions were lifted. Some areas are going into more localised lockdowns. It's a fast-changing scene.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Lisha. I think it's going to take a long time for hotels and the travel industry to get back on its feet. I'm not sure that any of us will feel safe until there's a vaccine.

Whether travel will ever get back to where it was is another question. A lot of hotels in the UK relied on business travel. Now that many companies have adopted online meetings, saving money on travel, I think fewer will feel the need to travel.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, MG Singh. It was shocking how quickly we went from normal travel in mid March to lockdown in the UK. The travel industry has a long way to go to get back to where it was pre-pandemic. A lot of hopes are pinned on finding a vaccine.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you very much for your comment, Pamela. I read recently of a couple who started a hand sanitizer business earlier in the year and have made big profits.

I also came across someone who thought that they had an allergic reaction to a sanitizer in a restaurant. They vary a lot in quality. I don't go out much (apart from this trip), but when I do I always make sure I have hand sanitizer with me.

Seeing the horse racing was a bonus.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on July 31, 2020:

This is a very useful article. I wouldn't want to stay in a hotel at the moment, but it was interesting to read about the precautions being taken by the hotel where you stayed. The comparison with the conditions there before the pandemic occurred was also interesting as well as helpful.

Uriel Eliane from Toronto on July 31, 2020:

I'm always looking forward to your beautifully written travel hubs, Liz! I've been looking forward to traveling again, so I'm definitely down for a stay at a hotel. Thanks for sharing your experience with your readers.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 31, 2020:

Liz, I appreciate this article, giving us a firsthand account of hotel stay during COVID. Glad you were able to make the trip and remain safe; also that the hotels are mostly alert and proactive. I don't think I would have been that brave,but you make travel seem doable.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on July 31, 2020:

Liz your informative hub makes me think of travelers to Croatia. Apartments have dropped in prices to allow for more tourists. I don't plan on traveling any where anytime soon. However, your valuable points are worth taking heed to for those who want travel in such times.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on July 31, 2020:

It is good to know about all the precautions taken in hotels these days. Since you had already booked a stay and did not wish to lose it, I am glad you got to go and felt safe in doing so. Given the current statistics in the U.S., I would not be tempted yet to travel and stay away from home. My husband and I am being extra cautious these days. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.

Lisha C on July 31, 2020:

This is an interesting comparison. It's good to see the measures taken by hotels to keep everyone safe. However, it's still very unlikely that I would want to experience a hotel stay in the near future.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on July 31, 2020:

Is a nice article on a topical subject more relevant to people who have to travel. The virus has changed everything and I wonder if the old days of travel will come back.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on July 31, 2020:

It does seem like you see hand sanitizer everywhere now, which is good. your very is an excellent review of this hotel and it looks safe. I don't think we will every be going back to what things use to be but I still hope the virus leaves us.

I like to see the race horses simply because they are beautiful. I enjoyed this excelent article along with all of your good pictures. I am glad you made a trip safely during this pandemic.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, John. We first stayed at Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster shortly after it opened in 2018. This was a very different experience. As it was only day 2 after reopening the staff were still trying to get to grips with the new way of doing things. Overall, they did well.

John Coviello from New Jersey on July 31, 2020:

Interesting info about your before and after COVID19 hotel experiences. It seems like the Hilton Garden Inn is doing a great job adjusting to the COVID19 environment. The racecourse views look awesome! Looks like a nice place to stay!

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Liza. I hope that you are able to visit family before the end of the year. When you travel by plane again, you will have interesting information for an article. I look forward to reading about your experience when you can go.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you very much for your encouraging comment, Chitrangada. Unusually for me, I was a reluctant traveller on this trip. I was worried about the risks we might encounter. I was reassured that hotels are taking precautions to keep guests safe. It probably helped, going soon after the hotels reopened and when they were still unusually quiet.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Bill. It was a big deal, getting out there for the first time again. Happily it worked out okay. But it will be a long time before we get back to travel as we knew it before the pandemi .

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Linda. Those were my thoughts before we went away. Even now I avoid restaurants despite the government trying to encourage us back there with incentives. If hotels had not reopened when they did, we would not have made the trip, as our booking could have been moved. The risk of losing it and missing out on visiting family tipped the balance in favour of going. Happily it turned out well, although I would not like to calculate how many times I washed or sanitized my hands, while we were away.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Rosina. It was a very different experience to what we have been used to. I think there will be some ups and downs to come. We wondered if Bradford might go back into lockdown while we were there. Today people living in some areas of north England, including parts of Yorkshire, woke up to find that restrictions have been reimposed.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thanks for your comment, Eric. This trip was unlike any we have ever taken before.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, Lorna. You couldn't forget the pandemic changes in the public areas. Overall I felt much safer than I had expected to feel. Maybe this was because of a combination of the extra measures hotels had in place and the low occupancy levels soon after they reopened. The busiest hotel was the Ramada. We stayed away from public areas there. We were fortunate to catch up with family when we did, as it's such a fast-changing scene. Our trip would not work so well now, given the recent restrictions in West Yorkshire.

Liza from USA on July 31, 2020:

My husband and I have canceled last April. However, I was still hoping to visit my family in Malaysia by the end of the year. The long journey in the flight, the layovers, and the safety to be around people is our main concern. I think I am open about staying at the hotel. One of our favorite places to stay in is Ascott. They have one of the best-serviced apartments in South East Asia. My experiences of staying there made me feel confident if we had to quarantine for two weeks. I trust the management will takes forethoughts about the matter. Thank you for the well-thorough post on your experience at the hotel post-COVID-19. I shall have the necessity you've mentioned above should we traveling next.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on July 31, 2020:

You have covered the topic very well.

We all know about the ongoing restrictions and precautions, which are being observed at public places. But seeing it in your well written article, made this more clearer.

I haven’t traveled out, since the lockdown started, but I do keep reading it in the news.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful article, with useful information and excellent pictures.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on July 31, 2020:

Very nice review; interesting to read about how the hotel is handling all of this. For me, traveling simply will not happen, but I didn't do much traveling anyway. :) I'm glad you were able to get out and travel a bit, Liz.

Linda Chechar from Arizona on July 31, 2020:

I'd rather to stay lockdown in home. I certainly wouldn't want to go to hotels or any restaurants. These tourist places can cause spiked virus hotspots.

Liz Westwood (author) from UK on July 31, 2020:

Thank you for your comment, FlourishAnyway. It's interesting to hear about your husband's experiences. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Holiday Inn still offered us complimentary drinks vouchers. We were directed to a table in the bar area and our order was taken and served at the table. When other guests left, their table was sprayed and a card was left to keep it vacant for a while. I felt that the Holiday Inn were ahead of the game, because the hotel had remained open throughout lockdown for keyworkers. Maybe that's why there were hot options in the breakfast bags to give the keyworkers a better start to their day.

Rosina S Khan on July 31, 2020:

It was interesting to note pre-COVID and post-COVID hotel stay experiences in the UK. Along with beautiful photos and great descriptions, it was a good follow-through. I hope post-COVID hotel stay experiences will get better and better with time.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on July 31, 2020:

As we like to say here; Too Cool for the Rule. I just had a blast on your/our trip. I am going to come back and take in the sights more. Thanks.

Lorna Lamon on July 31, 2020:

I feel that hotels are doing their best to protect everyone, however, like many other establishments, you are constantly reminded that we are in the middle of a pandemic, with the various notices and lack of service. I don't know if this would make me feel relaxed, which would defeat the purpose for me. Certainly this year, as far as travel is concerned, whether in or out of the country, will be a very different experience. Given the rate of infection in the UK and the fact there isn't a vaccine - unless for work purposes, I think I will give it a miss. Thank you for sharing your experience Liz in this detailed article.

FlourishAnyway from USA on July 31, 2020:

Your review is much in line with my husband’s experience. He travels three days a week on business as a necessity. There’s no way I would expend points on a hotel stay unless like you I had a prebook situation and I certainly would not vacation anywhere until we have this virus under control. The lack of services such as breakfast buffet and daily housekeeping are deal breakers. Other hotels have withdrawn their daily snacks, complimentary giveaway drinks for premier members, common area seating, etc.