This week we enjoyed a short break near Bath, which we booked just a couple of weeks ago through Hoseasons under their Hoseasons Safer Stays banner.
With COVID-19 still playing a big part in all our lives, we hadn’t planned to go away during the summer holidays this year at all. But with lockdown gradually easing we decided to have a quick look online to see what was available and what safety measures were in place to see if there was anything that would tempt us to venture out on one of the relatively safe UK summer holidays.
Booking UK Holidays Through Hoseasons
We’ve booked lodges through Hoseasons with my parents for the past few years, so thought that would be a good place to start our last minute UK summer holidays search for this year. We didn’t want to travel too far this year, and wanted somewhere with an attractive site, good quality accommodation and that had some guarantee of being really clean and well organised. As everyone knows, Hoseasons offer UK holidays in pretty much every part of country you could think of, so whether you want to visit the South Coast, see what Yorkshire has to offer or look at things to do in Kent there are plenty of options.
Hoseasons Safer Stays
We found that many of the Hoseasons sites this year were advertised as being ‘Hoseasons Safer Stays’, meaning that the lodge owner has signed up to offer enhanced cleaning, confirmed that there are social distancing measures on site and has offered safe key collection and drop off, among other things.
The site we really liked at Bath Mill Lodge Retreat had Hoseasons Safer Stays in place, with the added benefit of having a few things to do nearby and a really attractive setting for the lodge. Of course, some of the features that would normally be in place on site were shown as being unavailable due to COVID-19, such as the restaurant and gym. But that’s to be expected and it was good to know in advance what was going to be missing.
The other big change to normal Hoseasons sites was to the arrival and departure times. Due to enhanced cleaning and airing regimes through Hoseasons Safer Stays, check-in currently starts at 5pm and check-out is by 9am. Again, not ideal, but understandable in the current climate.
Arriving At Bath Mill Lodge Retreat
We expected the arrival might be a bit different to the usual routine of walking into Reception, picking up a key and having a welcome chat. I was anticipating standing in a socially distanced queue, having some perspex screens in place and squirting some hand gel on the way in and out.
However the setup on site was completely different to what we normally experience at a Hoseasons site from summer holidays in previous years! On arrival, signs told us to stay in our car and to pull over to the designated check-in bays. Once pulled over, a check-in person came over to our car in full face mask / visor, took our name and told yst which lodge was ours and roughly how to get there. There were no keys to take, or maps – it really was just a quick interaction before she let us in through the barrier in our vehicle.
Once we found our lodge, we were able to park right outside, which was handy. The lodge door was unlocked, but was sealed across with a sticker to show it had been cleaned and that no one had been in there since.
Once inside, we found all the dishes and crockery were sitting cleanly washed in the dishwasher – I assume to show they’ve not been touched since being cleaned. Unnecessary high-touch items were missing, such as cushions and toys and games, but this is all part of the requirements for Hoseasons Safer Stays and we knew this in advance. Bed linen and pillows and some cleaning products will still included though, so it wasn’t a big deal.
Darwin Escapes Lodge Features
However, the important thing for us was that the lodge itself was really lovely, especially as with UK summer holidays you never know what weather you might end up with! We went for a three bed Hartfield Watersedge Lodge, which had some outdoor decking with a table and chairs, along with two king sized beds, an ensuite to the master, 4 TVs and one set of twin beds. There was a brook running just outside, which sounded lovely from the outdoor seating area.
The sofas were great and there was a nice big extendable dining table and chairs, along with a fully featured kitchen, an attractive shade of smoked grey flooring through the kitchen / dining area and a nice fireplace in the lounge. It was pretty hard to fault the place!
COVID Safe Measures
As mentioned above, the normal visitor facilities weren’t open at this site when we visited. The gym was closed, as was the bar / restaurant and Reception area. However, there was an excellent delivery service in place, where you could order a wide range of food options straight to your lodge.
Our dinners tended to arrive within thirty minutes from ordering and were generally really good – apart from the steak and ale pie! It was all delivered in a large black bag – think Domino’s Pizza delivery bag – which you empty out yourself and give back to the delivery person. It was all well boxed and very tasty, and helped reduce the disappointment of having no on-site restaurant available at the moment.
There were various social distancing measures advertised across site, with a large blue poster everywhere you look. Again this is part of the requirements of Hoseasons Safer Stays. It’s not a massive site – I think there were about 60 lodges in total – so it didn’t feel crowded or cramped and it was therefore pretty easy to keep our distance from others.
There were also the standard socially-distanced queuing footprints next to all bin areas and there were also a few hand washing stations dotted around, cleverly operated by knee rather than hand!
Along with the revised check-in routine, check-out was also done in a contactless manner, with a drop-box to pop your lodge key in on the way out. Easy.
We loved the site during our short break. It all felt clean and modern, there were some short walks you can take around site and it all felt pretty safe. It didn’t quite feel ‘normal’ of course, but it did feel safe and that’s the main thing at the moment for us. It’s a place to get away as a family, relax, see some different things, have some nice food and just enjoy a few days away from the routine of being at home.
No doubt as the Summer holidays season goes by more facilities will begin to reopen but for us it was a great break away and we’re really glad we took the decision to come.
For more holidays and days out stuff, including UK holidays and those further afield, pop along to our holidays & days out page!