As a general rule, hotel life is significantly less glamorous than hotel chains would have you believe. So many of the comforts of home are lacking. And yet, that’s where I found myself the past 10 days. It is possible to quarantine in a hotel but it’s difficult, especially in today’s environment of reduced service and communication.
Some might say I should have quarantined at home. This was a fairly unique situation where my family hadn’t been exposed to COVID along with me. I had been traveling and was the only one who tested positive. My daughter had an important race coming up and I didn’t want to jeopardize her chances to be able to race. It was an easy decision to pack up and go stay in a hotel. How long? Hard to say, we’d see how long it took to test negative/be symptom-free.
Hilton May Be The Safest Chain For Quarantine
While Hyatt is my favorite hotel brand overall, Hilton may be the best hotel chain to weather a quarantine. I tested positive right after returning home from a work trip and grabbed a bunch of clothes. I figured I would head to an extended stay hotel somewhere near our house and start figuring things out from there. Unfortunately, no hotels had a room for more than a few nights at a time. I was dealing with Memorial Day weekend which was driving some of the demand. I settled on a Homewood Suites as my first destination for a number of reasons.
The partial kitchen would make it easier to quarantine. A full-sized fridge and a microwave along with a cooktop expanded my meal choices. And, grocery pick-up meant I could avoid people.
Another reason why Hilton makes a good choice is the widespread availability of digital keys. Virtually every Hilton property I’ve stayed at offers the feature. The Homewood Suites I chose was no exception.
Lastly, many properties allow you to choose your room ahead of time. I was able to choose rooms close to stairwells. That meant it would be easy to come and go for some exercise or swinging by my house to wave at my family without putting other hotel guests at risk.
Quarantine Was Far From Relaxing
Since I hadn’t planned ahead of time I forgot quite a few essentials prior to my hotel stay. That led to a series of intricately planned visits to the house when the family wasn’t there as well as relying on delivery services or curbside pickup during my first five days of quarantine.
I was able to switch hotels easily and once again pick a room next to a stairwell. By the time day five rolled around the reality of how bad hotel beds, pillows and towels can be had started to set in. An Embassy Suites I chose as my second hotel would turn out to be a horrible idea, with some of the worst beds and pillows I can recall in quite some time.
The hotel clearly had no safety protocols in place for employees or guests. Despite the poor quality of the hotel I wasn’t trying to bounce around too much, so I worked to extend my stay at the Embassy Suites. I spoke with the Hilton Diamond desk to book a reservation in the same room type I was already staying. They said they spoke with the hotel and worked it all out.
At this point I was beyond the first five days of quarantine and symptom-free. I ventured downstairs with an N95 mask on to get a new room key that would work for the remainder of my stay. However, the front desk refused to keep me in the same room. They claimed it was blocked for someone else. This was a truly odd scenario, since I was in a basic room with no connecting door. The front desk agent claimed the guest had reserved that specific room a week earlier using the Hilton app. I never did go back to verify if this was true, though I was under the impression this could only be done a day ahead of time.
Things got a bit comical at that point when the front desk agent accidentally checked me out of my existing room and then refused to check me back in. I had to wait for engineering to let me back in and start moving my refrigerator content and suitcase down the hallway to a different room. Along the way, a member of the hotel housekeeping staff decided to come in and start cleaning my room. I tried to communicate with her but she didn’t speak English. Nobody at the front desk was answering the phone so I ultimately ended up standing in a corner in the hallway waiting for her to remove the linens from my room so I could gather the rest of my belongings.
The Final Two Pennies
The final few days of quarantine were less eventful. I was worn out from crappy beds, eating most of my meals in my room and relatively little interaction with other people. This was my first bout of COVID and my symptoms were fairly mild. Fatigue was the most annoying symptom. Along the way, I learned that many housekeepers can be quite loud during the day and very few of them want to challenge a do not disturb sign hanging on a doorknob.
Like all hastily planned activities, my 9 additional nights in hotels was something of a mess. I made choices not based on the most economical or most comfortable hotel, but rather the ones that offered me the ability to eat in my room. Along the way, I forgot to burn up two Hilton free night certificates I’ve had sitting in my account. Those will almost certainly expire unused next month, but I’ll call Hilton and beg for mercy just in case.
The most important part was that nobody in my family caught COVID from me. Cases seem to be ramping up pretty aggressively right now. Here’s hoping we can avoid a positive test throughout our summer travel season.