By Carol Cain, on December 11, 2020

What to expect from a hotel stay during COVID

More and more of us are finding ourselves feeling a bit restless and longing for a little escape. Or maybe you are having to take a trip for work or family. Either way the question remains: What is a hotel stay like during COVID?

We recently spent a weekend in a hotel as part of a staycation getaway and got to experience the different things happening at hotels during the pandemic. In the process, we also picked up a few tips to further make your stay feel confident and comfortable.

Expect a different experience

Not all lodging options are operating in the same way. A small bed and breakfast might only rent to one couple at a time, and larger hotels might book fewer rooms. It is really important to ask what guidelines are in place so that you can make your decision comfortably. But one thing that is for sure is that you can expect a different experience than the one you might be accustomed to.

Front desk staff will most likely greet you from behind a plexiglass wall and mask. Systems will be set up for minimal contact. Doors will have labels on them that will ensure no one else has entered the room since its cleaning in preparation for your arrival. Restaurants will be at reduced capacity and you might need reservations whereas you might not have needed them before.

You will also find that mask mandates anywhere outside your room are in place, and the best hotels are really enforcing them.

We had a lovely spa experience, albeit a bit different as well. We had to wear a mask and our temperature was taken before we were allowed in for our massage. There were no robes or spa slippers being given out, and no use was allowed for the shower or steam room facilities. For massages, we were asked to wear our mask when facing up and could remove them when facing down—our masseuse wore one the entire time. We were also not able to book a couples massage for social distancing purposes, much needed due to the enclosed spa rooms. Spas like the one at La Tourelle in Ithaca, New York have ventilation systems throughout and have removed access to their gift shop. But our massage was no less amazing and our visit a relaxing one.

We also picked up a few tips on how to further enhance your safety and comfort when staying in a hotel.

Order room service

Don’t want to sit in a restaurant, or feel comfortable with crowds? Take advantage of room service or order delivery to your hotel. It used to be that room service was that extra little splurge you gifted yourself, but now you can totally justify it as an added way to social distance. And a person’s gotta eat, right?

Go ahead, order room service! It is a thoughtful gesture.

Take advantage of digital check-in

Ok, this may not be as common still as we would like, but it does exist! Hilton offers its rewards program members the additional perks of not only being able to check-in digitally but also select their room online. This service will be available at all Hilton properties worldwide by end of the year. You can further customize your stay by purchasing a room upgrade (if available) and requesting specific amenities to be delivered to your room before arrival.

Not staying in Hilton? No worries. Many hotels have already put other systems in place to better streamline the check-in process to avoid lines and reduce contact. And whenever possible, take advantage of in-room check out as well. The goal is to reduce contact and maximize social distancing wherever possible—but also increase efficiency in the check-in and check-out process overall.

Skip the cleaning service

Long before COVID, requesting that your room not be cleaned during your stay has been an eco-friendly thing to do. But if you hadn’t already caught on to this very cool practice, you now have the added reasoning in that it minimizes the contact from outsiders into your space, and thus reducing the chances of infection—for both you and the cleaning staff.

Be kind and tip the cleaning staff

So go ahead and leave that bed unfixed, that bathroom a bit messy, and remember to leave a tip for the cleaning staff as their essential services are what make our vacation stays so fabulous.

If planning to travel with a larger group, it is most recommended that you book a vacation rental that exclusively hosts your group. Though more and more mandates advise against large gatherings, families wanting to get away will find a vacation home stay far more comfortable and relaxing than staying in a hotel, which might not have the room and requires a lot more precautions throughout.

So go ahead and plan that staycation! Support your local hotels and make the most of a getaway closer to home. If for no other reason, it’s worth it for the room service alone.

What is most important to you during a hotel stay?

With COVID-19, it’s important to stay safe and up to date on the latest travel guidance and restrictions. Find out what to expect, how to find flexible travel and other information on the Expedia COVID-19 travel guide.