As the hospitality industry gradually gets back to its feet, what can we expect to have changed and where can we go for a staycation this summer
Since 23 March travel has been paused, not only across Britain, but the world over. Now, from 4 July, England’s hotels, pubs and restaurants will be allowed to open with a ‘one metre-plus’ social-distancing policy. This means a distance of less than two metres between people is permissible if other mitigating factors (for example masks and/or perspex screens) are in place.
Meanwhile in Scotland, Wales and Northern Island, the two metre distance is still in place, but likewise beer gardens (6 July) and then hotels and indoor spaces at pubs and restaurants (14 July) in Scotland will reopen soon, where the five-mile travel limit will be lifted from 3 July. In Northern Ireland the hospitality sector will be able to reopen from 3 July. The Welsh government have not yet announced a proposed timeline.
Of course all of these dates are conditional on the coronavirus infection rate remaining stable, as well as the sector’s ability to adapt to the new socially-distanced way of living and working. While some Dorchester Collection hotels, such as Coworth Park in Ascot, are able to reopen on 4 July, London’s The Dorchester itself will reopen on 1 September – properties are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Indeed Coworth Park’s spa facilities will remain closed until the government deems to safe to welcome guests once more. Social-distancing demands sufficient space but also minimal contact between staff and customers. Bars, for example, won’t operate as they did before, with table service only allowed.
The ‘new normal’
The 19 properties that make up Hand Picked Hotels, a historic hotels collection spanning Britain and the Channel Islands, are all opening up on 4 July. Over the last few months they have been developing new working practices that will ensure the safety of every one of their guests and staff. Julia Hands, Chairman & CEO of Hand Picked Hotels commented:
“I am looking forward to re-opening Hand Picked Hotels in a way that provides our guests with the freedom and the space to enjoy a truly memorable time within the beautiful countryside of the United Kingdom and the seascapes of the Channel Islands, knowing they are in safe hands whilst staying with us. As we re-open our doors, we aim to raise the bar with regard to what country house hotels can provide through delivering a personalised service that makes guests really feel at home.”
And so the ‘Hand Picked Host’ was born; a dedicated member of staff assigned to each individual, couple or family whose job will be to look after them throughout their stay, adhering to the highest standards of service, safety, cleanliness and comfort possible. The Hand Picked Host will also be best-placed to ensure guests have a tailor-made and unique experience.
At the same time, Hand Picked is introducing ‘In Safe Hands’ – an enhanced set of stringent health, safety and security measures designed in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, yet without compromising the service quality guests have come to expect. These include enhanced cleaning protocols, social distancing measures, contactless check in and check out, dedicated dining areas (with dining in bedrooms also available), certification from experts in health and safety plus a fully-flexible full refund booking policy should customers need to cancel due to Covid-19 concerns or issues.
Increased flexibility will be part of the ‘new norm’ in the industry, with the elegant West Country retreat that is The Newt only requiring 48 hours notice for a full refund. From luggage trolleys to room keys, everything will be fully sanitized for your safety and dedication to social-distancing will mean that only a 50 per cent occupancy rate will be reached at any one time. A full list of COVID-19 adaptations in place at The Newt can be found here.
Places to stay in July
Hand Picked Hotels
If you like your holidays to come with a helping of history, this grade II-listed Palladian mansion will suit you down to the ground. Having hosted poet William Wordsworth to wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill, its star-studded past is testament to its palatial interiors, gardens and 312-acre estate, which is now a designated a Site of Specific
Scientific Interest (SSSI). Nearby attractions include Glyndebourne Opera House, Hever Castle, Drusillas Park and Brighton beach.
This beautiful Neo-Gothic mansion exudes period charm from its turrets to its interiors. The River Stour winds through 40 acres of parkland and the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace, is just six miles away. In fact, Shakespeare himself plays a part in Ettington’s history, as he socialised with his friends here. It is believed he may have gained some inspiration for his plays, particularly Henry IV and Henry V, whilst staying at the hotel.
This summer bespoke travel company Fish&Pips announced that they are expanding their collection of properties to include locations in the UK. This friendly team of experts now offer a selection of hand–picked, owner-led hotels and self-catering hideaways that showcase the very best of Britain, from the wilderness of the Highlands to the quintessential Suffolk countryside.
The founders have sought out properties with the same winning formula – picturesque and remote locations, enviable décor and top-notch facilities. Think boltholes and castles in the wilds of the Highlands, thatched roof hideaways and stately homes in the Suffolk countryside. They have properties ranging from the quaint two-bed to the sprawling 42-bed. All Hideaway guests will be met with a bountiful breakfast hamper filled with delicious local produce.
A magical thatched cottage hidden by woodland and surrounded by meadows – it doesn’t get more romantic than this. If you want to stay secluded in this hideaway for the entirety of your stay, hampers can be provided or private chefs can be organised.
High Georgian ceilings, period furniture, authentic interiors (even the wallpaper is listed), and a grand dining room and orangery, if you’re looking for luxury and space to spread out, this 14-bedroom manor is more than you could ask for.
Their selection of hotels features the finest properties you could find in the UK, with a strong focus on charming, owner-led hotels. Think The Fish Hotel in The Cotswolds and Gleneagles in Scotland. All of the hotels in the collection are chosen based on their excellent locations, friendly service and, of course, their delicious food.
The Highlands is a breath of the freshest air at the best of times, but right now, it’s where we all need to be. The Fife Arms brings Scottish tradition and contemporary comfort together with a range of room options from the cosy Croft Rooms to the Scottish Culture Rooms that celebrate the country’s many illustrious artists, explorers and astronomers.
The sister hotel to Babylonstoren in South Africa, The Newt is an oasis in England’s West Country. A fusion of Georgian sophistication and understated simplicity, there are only 13 suites in the main house and a further 10 in the Stable Yard. The food is just as special, focussed on farm-to-table dishes that can be enjoyed within the glass walled Garden Café, with views over the orchards and walled parabola garden.
The Dorchester Collection
Nine iconic addresses make up the Dorchester Collection and two of our favourites are returning on 4 July. These are 45 Park Lane and Coworth Park (below) in Ascot, about one hour’s drive out of London.
Dorchester Collection’s new Ultimate Staycation offer aims to give you the chance to enjoy England and its treasures and traditions, with the excitement of an international holiday, but without the logistics, language barrier or lengthy travel. To ensure your stay is as easy and stress-free as possible, early check-in and late check-out, as well as breakfast for two, are now included in the price of your room. Plus at Coworth, with its 240-acre playground of woodlands and fields, you’re more likely to run into a duck or horse than another hotel guest.
While the spa, pool and gym at Coworth will remain closed in accordance with government guidelines, the wellness offering has had an overhaul. Pilates, yoga, Qi-Gong, mindfulness & meditation, wellness walks and family fit camp will all be available to guests. This is on top of the usual onsite activities, such as croquet, tennis, and horse riding (for non-beginners).