The good, the bad and the ugly
of quarantining at the Courtyard Marriot, Heathrow Hotel
Be aware that the quarantining is actually for 11 nights, as the first day in your hotel counts as Day 0. You are allowed out from midnight on the 11th night.
Diet before you quarantine, because, as sure as anything, you will put on weight with all the food that is on offer – and there is also an A La Carte menu to order from if you want MORE!
Be warned…you might sprout a camel type hump for water storage. You will be given SO much water. I do like my water, but we’ve been staggered by how much we’ve been given.
You will only need a minimum of summer clothing for your stay. You don’t have to be smart either of course, as the only people who will see you will be your spouse and security guards and other walkers in the carpark. Stay in your Pjs the whole day if you want to.
Think ahead about what you will do to keep you from going stir crazy: I made sure to bring my brushes and paints to do some painting and I’m also working on my blog, including this post. I also love reading, so have books. I also enjoy Word with Friends and all of you will have your own games to play on your laptops, tablets or phones. And of course there is TV in the room. We all have our music too, which is comforting.
Lastly, you will need some gecko-like sticky pads to put on your hands and feet for when you start climbing the walls…… but be careful not to pull the paint off….you wouldn’t want to be liable for damages – extra cost, added to the exorbitant rates of your stay.
THE COURTYARD MARRIOT HOTEL, HEATHROW:
The room is spacious, and has a king-size bed, which is very comfortable.
It also has a desk area which has room for two people to work at. There is also a small table. There was one chair as well as a stool. We asked for an extra chair and they brought us one.
There is a cupboard, which includes a recessed area with kettle and a drawer stocked with coffee, tea and sugar sachets and little milk containers, as well as paper cups. The staff will resupply anything extra that you need,- with often ten times more than you asked for…….
There is plenty of cupboard and drawer space for clothes, given that you are confined to your room and won’t need to unpack many clothes.
Everything in our room looked new, as if our room has recently been refurbished. Everything is good quality and modern; the light fittings, curtains, the bedlinen and towels. The carpet though, is a little grubby.
The room and bathroom are spotlessly clean.
There is a huge TV screen with numerous different channels to choose from.
There is free WiFi; a huge bonus when you are ‘locked up’ away from family and friends.
There is air-con, which is very quiet and easy to adjust to any temp you want.
When you arrive at the hotel, you are taken go to a reception area, where you have to fill in various forms, including your menu choices for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the whole 10 days of your stay; 2 choices for breakfast: Full English or Continental; 3 choices for lunch; 3 choices for dinner, catering for different cultural tastes.
The food is generally good and the variety was impressive, given that it can’t be easy doing this kind of catering, but personally I would have liked more salads. The fruit is good.
There is an A La Carte menu as well if you don’t fancy the meals that are provided, but obviously you would pay extra for these meals.
2 water bottles with each meal.
Also an orange or apple drink with some meals.
You can order in alcoholic drinks and other soft drinks, but you’ll pay handsomely.
You are allowed out twice a day for up to 30 minutes each time, to stretch your legs in the carpark. This is a lot better than some other places. Apparently initially in England, you were not allowed out of your rooms at all. And this is still the case in Australia, AND the quarantining is 14 days!
Generally, they are friendly and try to be helpful.
This is excellent. There are guards everywhere ensuring that one doesn’t go where one shouldn’t. They also pressed the buttons in the lift so that we didn’t touch them.
On day 2 and day 8, we had our Covid tests. This was done just outside our room and we had to do the swabbing ourselves and then put it into the glass tube to be sent off. The bit we’d held was snapped off by the gloved testers. We got our results the following day. Negative both times – thank goodness, otherwise it would have meant another 10 days in quarantine from the day you test positive!
We found that the quantities supplied for meals were far too much. We aren’t big eaters, but we feel sure that for most people it would be too much. We reluctantly placed our left overs back into the bag, knowing full well that they will just be turfed – such a waste.
Because this is an ‘isolation situation’, apart from the food, all the extras that come in your food parcels are also disposable; plastic cutlery, polystyrene and foil containers, table napkins, condiments that come either in little paper packets or plastic sachets. You are only allowed paper cups for coffee and tea. These too cannot be reused. We asked if we couldn’t please get 2 wine glasses as a friend had kindly included a bottle of wine in a goodies parcel she’d dropped off on our arrival. But no, we were only allowed plastic ones, and those too would’ve been thrown away.
One hopes that the water bottles are being recycled but we couldn’t be sure about that.
We overlooked the dumpster where all the bin bags piled up at an alarming rate. This was hugely depressing. But who knows whether there is another way of doing things – surely there must be – any ideas anyone? Suggest to guests that they bring their own cutlery and even crockery and glassware and their own dishwashing liquid to wash these in the rooms?
There are a lot of starchy items in the food provided and you won’t be as active as you normally are, so it would definitely be advisable to have something you can take to aid your digestion.
There is definitely an element of misunderstanding and a language barrier. Not everyone has a good command of the English language
We tried to cut out our lunch order, twice through reception, but it still arrived at our door at lunchtime. Finally I wrote it down on a piece on paper to be given to catering and that worked.
We did try to ask for glasses on a number of occasions without success. All they need to tell guest is that they are not allowed to give us anything that isn’t disposable, but they seem to be reluctant to say this.
You can have exactly 7 small items laundered for FREE!! Does one pair of socks count as one or two items? We didn’t bother to ask. Any other laundry you’d like them to wash for you is ridiculously expensive: Socks GBP 4! So I’d recommend bringing your own Travel Wash, to do your own smalls.
State of mind
It is easy to feel like a pariah in this situation! One does not feel like a valued guest. One definitely has this feeling that one is being punished, for us especially, as we are double vaccinated and had our negative Covid test certificate.
Interestingly, at the back of all the pages given to us by the hotel, there are 3 pages with phone numbers etc. if you are struggling with your mental health. Fortunately, we didn’t need this. Here’s a link to the Mitiewell wellbeing hub for ideas on how to stay mentally on top of things during this period: http://www.my-eap.com
We looked out over the dumpster of our own hotel and the car park and rubbish bins of another hotel. Not quite the view one might expect for a confinement, when one is compelled to spend 23 hours out of 24 in one’s room at a cost of GBP2400 for the 10 day stay.
The walking area
This is a disused carpark, which one accesses via the lobby of the hotel. They obviously have a problem with pigeons and have made some attempt at discouraging them to roost, but not very successfully – one really has to dodge pigeon shit! You walk past the dumpster, where it often looks as though someone has thrown up – but this might be more bird shit – and it smells disgusting. There are one or two flowering shrubs, but weeds abound. Surely an attempt could be made to clean and tidy the area up a bit? Later on in our stay, some of the pigeon mess had been half-heartedly hosed.
And so there you have it. I hope this helps prepare you mentally for this time. Keep telling yourself things could be so much worse and that it is only 11 days and nights. As you will all have discovered, one can’t choose one’s hotel, you just get allocated. We have heard that the Courtyard Marriot, Heathrow is one of the better ones and we certainly do feel that we got lucky, as we’ve heard a few horror stories. So yes, you could do a lot worse than quarantining here. Good luck!
P.S. We had just been taken to our rooms on the first day when there was a knock on the door and a parcel was delivered with our names on it and “With love” written on it. It was filled with goodies: a bottle of wine, G&TS, chocolates, nuts, snacks, biscuits, magazines and even a little begonia, and some naartjies (being South Africans we love these!) I just knew it was from my very generous English friend, and it was – so thoughtful of her. Hopefully someone will think of this for you too?!
And now you’re out of quarantine! Go out there and enjoy all the wonderful things the UK has to offer! We’re off to Bath to be with our daughter and family. We have relocated permanently from South Africa. The last time we saw them was in December 2019, so it will be a wonderful reunion. Read about one of the things I did when we were staying with her last time:
Or how about visiting the Scilly Isles?
Or the Farne islands in Northumberland to see the puffins?