Is your hotel Covid-safe?

Last updated: November 4, 2020

Staying safe: The science of Covid safety in hotels. We look at specific aspects of hotel safety, such as digital check-in, spas and ventilation

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No one wants to be infected when visiting their hotel, which is why hotels are taking coronavirus safety extremely seriously. For example, Marriot has set up a Global Cleanliness Council, Hilton has rolled out its Clean Stay programme, and Choice Hotels has its Commitment to Clean. Every Four Seasons and Hyatt hotel, meanwhile, will have a hygiene manager on the staff.

A recent VisitBritain survey revealed that guests want to see things such as sanitising gel, enhanced cleaning regimes, staff health checks and controlled numbers before they will consider returning to their favoured hotels.

Safer communal areas

What will Covid-safe hotels look like? The first change you’ll see will be in communal areas such as the lobby. Traditional door staff will be phased out. Guest temperatures may be taken. You’ll find a hand sanitiser dispenser near entrances and if possible hand-washing facilities. At reception you’ll find signs asking guests to social distance when queuing. The reception desk will have Plexiglas protection and staff in masks. You’ll be wearing a mask too.

Much of your stay will be digital. Chains such as Hilton and NH are lessening lobby use by enabling their guests to check in and out by phone, and access their room with a digital key. Radisson Hotels states that conventional keys will be disinfected when handed in.

When you take the lift you’ll find it’s cleaned hourly by staff and has sanitiser by the door if guests have to touch buttons. Guests will only use the lifts one person at a time or with their social bubble. If you’re staying on lower floors you might be asked to take the stairs to free-up lift space.

You will walking around the hotel in a clockwise direction, going up one set of stairs and coming down another set of stairs. This is to ensure you can maintain two metres social distance, except in restaurants where it may be reduced to one metre.

The rule of six

From 14 September it became illegal for more than six people to gather either indoors or outdoors. Hotels will need to ensure this new rule is followed.

Masks

As a guest you’ll need to wear a face covering in all communal areas and recently the government has made it law that staff also cover their face except if they’re behind a barrier - a perspex screen at reception for example.

Less clutter in rooms

Another change you’ll find is less clutter in your room in order to make it Covid-safe. Your room might have fewer coat hangers, pillows, pens, and stationery. Even the mini-bar might go, which will at least be good for your pocket. What guests might want though are windows that open, not just in their rooms but throughout the hotel to allow proper ventilation.

The first thing you will want to know is that your room has been properly cleaned. At hotels such as Hilton and Onyx you’ll find a room seal across the door to prove it has not been entered since it was thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. ideally, rooms will have been left empty for 24 hours between guests.

All the major chains are using hospital-grade disinfectant and cleaners will wear Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Particular attention will be paid to disinfecting high-touch areas such as door handles, light switches, taps, toilets, and the TV remote. Chains such as Four Seasons are leaving new masks in the rooms for their guests to use.

Staff will have been trained to stay at home if they display any symptoms of Covid-19 and to report any other staff they suspect might be ill. If the worst happens and someone does contract coronavirus on the premises, then the room will be taken out of action for a quarantine period and thoroughly disinfected.

Tray service

Eating in your room is probably the safest option, but you’ll find traditional room service will be replaced by a no-contact method as staff in PPE leave a tray of pre-packaged items plus disposable napkins outside your room, while some advanced hotels might even have robots to do this.

If hotels do offer you a traditional breakfast buffet it should be served by staff wearing PPE from behind a shield according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s Stay Safe initiative. Attendants should serve you with pre-packaged cutlery and serving spoons must be changed regularly. Guests will all sit at socially distanced tables with a time allocated to them to use the restaurant in the first place.

You’ll find that restaurants, lobbies and bars will all have had seats moved to encourage social distancing, while gyms, spas and pools will have temperature checks of guests, staff in PPE, limited numbers and sanitisers at the door. Saunas will probably remain closed.

Cleaner and more efficient

The Covid-safe philosophy can best be summed by Hilton’s 'clean and clean again' mantra. More high-tech solutions are on offer too. Four Seasons and Hilton among others are looking at ultraviolet light to sanitise surfaces, electrostatic sprayers and ozone technology for air purification.

Kate Nicholls of UKHospitality told the Evening Standard: 'A lot of hotels have been accommodating key workers during the crisis, so many will have learned valuable lessons and will be able to put these into place rapidly.'

But amid all the precautions you’ll want to know that staff have not lost the human touch. Four Seasons has announced that, 'grounded in emotional intelligence, employees are undergoing behavioural training ensuring empathetic, personalised care and connection are not lost in the absence of close contact.'

Things have certainly changed, but cleanliness is now the number one priority for hotels, ensuring that we can all stay safe in comfort.

Useful links Find up-to-date guidance on travel, safety, Covid-19 research and more.

RightRooms believes all information to be correct at time of going to press. As guidance, research and facts around Covid-19 are changing constantly, the information provided here is for general information only and does not constitute professional advice. Please check with venues, locations and attractions before travelling.

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