What it's like to stay in a hotel right now.
This is the Dorchester Collection's grand country estate on the edge of Windsor Great Park, a white chiselled Georgian mansion at its heart, with sunken gardens, pathways through sweet meadowland and a clippety-clop reputation for its polo club, fields and royal guests. Bedrooms are found in the main house and in village-like clusters around the estate - the camouflaged eco spa and Michelin-starred restaurant are yet to reopen. With acres of outdoor space all around, this is just the place for a post-lockdown break; an easy-to-hand, transportative destination for a staycation with whip-smart service and experienced staff who have adapted well to the new landscape. Coworth began welcoming guests again on 4 July 2020 - so what was the experience like, and what had changed?
'Just a short query about our general health and a declaration if anyone within the family had been unwell recently. Anyone coming to Coworth from outside the UK will be asked a few questions about their wellbeing; those from countries in the red zone are still able to stay but will need to remain quarantined in their rooms. The team are also monitoring any localised lockdowns within Britain and will check if anyone booking is from an affected area (such as Leicester, at the moment).'
What's the check-in experience like?
'We arrived at a quiet time, but an assistant at the gate will ensure there's no congestion - which may mean vehicles being held for a short while before being pointed to the car park. At the main house's entrance, Claire has the skills of a rodeo wrangler, directing drivers from her post, meeting them in the car park by buggy and ferrying suitcases (and guests, if they choose) to the hotel. As for handling luggage, staff wear fresh gloves for each visitor, but will check first if it's OK to pick up your case. At the reception desk, chairs have been removed and small horse-head posts have been added as a visual reminder to keep a one-metre distance - no visors, temperature checks or plastic screens. Some may prefer to check in online before arriving, then simply pick up their key and head straight to the room. Bedroom tours are, of course, optional, and luggage can be left outside the door if preferred.'