How our country house stays will adapt after lockdown

What to expect when visting an HF Country House as we come out of lockdown

As we slowly reopen in the wake of the Coronavirus lockdown, our country house stays are set to be organised a little differently; extra steps have been taken to keep our guests and house teams safe while we return to action. Some beloved staples of the HF Holidays experience will have to be parked temporarily and new protocols introduced to ensure that guests and house team members feel safe and protected. The certification below though is the official UK mark to signal that HF Holidays has worked hard to follow Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines and has a process in place to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing. Here are some of the ways in which our country house stays will adapt.

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Holidays running

In light of the government guidance, we will be changing the way we normally run our holidays. For the initial, phased re-opening of our country houses, we will only be offering Self-Guided walking holidays. This will provide the greatest flexibility around social distancing requirements on our walks. Within each house, guests will be able to use our Discovery Points for route information, inspiration and ideas as to where to explore, and we will be providing guests complimentary access to the Ordnance Survey App during their stay. In addition, Walk Leaders will be available to provide information on the walks in the local area. Boot rooms will also be open as usual, with social distancing measures in place.

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Our country Houses

During the initial re-opening, we will reduce the overall number of guests staying at each house to a maximum 50% of overall house occupancy. This will ensure that we can meet the social distancing guidelines in our public areas within each house. We’re looking forward to welcoming our guests back, but we’re keen we keep our distance. We have taken the necessary steps to space out furniture and seating in public areas. In addition, we may need to put in place a one-way system around the house. Adequate signage will be displayed to support the direction of travel to be followed by guests and staff. We ask that our guests please adhere to the social distancing measures we have introduced, to keep our guests and house teams safe. Additionally, as a temporary measure, our communal toilets in the houses will remain closed. Guests will be able to use the facilities in their bedrooms.

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Cleanliness at our country houses

We have always rated country house cleanliness highly but will be even more aware of it going forward. To ensure the highest standards of cleanliness are met across all areas of our houses, we have adopted new enhanced cleaning protocols. Prior to opening, our teams will be fully trained on these new cleaning protocols and measures needed to keep themselves and our guests safe.

To ensure the safety of guests and the house teams, as a temporary measure, we will not be servicing rooms during a stay. Extra tea, coffee, milk, and toiletries will be made available on request for all guests. It is recommended that guests bring their own toiletries for the duration of their stay. Clean towels will be available on request. Where possible, the allocation of rooms will be rotated to provide a 'rest period' before new guests arrive. We will though be increasing the frequency of cleaning in our public areas providing particular attention to frequently touched items including door handles and handrails.

As well as thorough cleaning from our house keeping teams, guests are encouraged to use the hand sanitisers and antibacterial soap provided. Hand sanitiser stations will be made available in frequently used public areas for guests and staff use. We will also ensure that there is ample PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) where required for our house teams and these will be worn where necessary while on duty. Chefs will wear facemasks whilse in the kitchen preparing meals. Guests can choose to wear their own face masks; however, these will not be provided by HF Holidays.

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Check-in & welcome

To allow for additional cleaning of the bedrooms in between guest stays, we will be delaying the check-in time at our country houses until 4pm for all guests. Once checked-in, guests will find the key to their room already in the door of their room, or the door will be on the latch on arrival.

During check-in, guests will be allocated their dining table number, which will be allocated for the duration of their stay. In addition, allocated meal times will be provided for each guest. Different sittings may be required, and this may vary by house.

Information about the house and the holiday will be made available in each bedroom. This personal pack of information will detail what to expect during the stay in the house and will include the guest registration form for completion. We have removed all non-essential and reusable items from our rooms for the meantime including cushions, hairdryers, bathrobes, bed throws, and printed materials to reduce the number of items that need to be disinfected. Hairdryers will be available on request. On arrival in their rooms, guests will find complimentary scones and preserves available to welcome them.

The evening before departure, guests will receive a departure letter which will detail any outstanding bar bill costs. Guests will need to settle their bill before departure and payments will only be available by card. Check out time will be 10am for all guests.

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Dining at the country houses

We are renowned for the quality of our country house meals but have reviewed the way that our dining experience is offered throughout. Alas, while we all adore the breakfast buffet and picnic tuck room, we have adapted our food offering to remove all buffets and open food items for now. Where menus are required, they will be single use. During check-in, guests will be allocated their table number and meal time for the duration of their stay. Solo travellers will be allocated single tables or tables of no more than 2 if sharing a bedroom. Different sittings may be required for breakfast and dinner due to the occupancy and size of the house. House Team members will be required to wear facemasks while interacting with guests. Chefs will wear facemasks while in the kitchen preparing meals. Cutlery will be available on the table for each meal and condiments will be wrapped and single use.

Breakfast will be a table service and will include a choice of yogurts, cereals, and fruit all individually served. Tea, coffee, and toast will be delivered to the table and a cooked breakfast will also be available to order.

Picnic lunches will be available, and these will need to be pre-ordered each evening during a stay. A picnic lunch order form will be available in each room for completion each day. Picnic lunches will be delivered to the guest’s tables at breakfast.

Evening meals will be a table service. A dinner order sheet will be available in each room for completion each evening, with an earlier completion required on the day of arrival.

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Leisure time in the country houses

Relaxing with fellow guests, swapping stories and enjoying the sociability of our country houses are mainstays of any HF break, but new protocols will have to be followed as we re-open. To comply with social distancing, we have taken the necessary steps to space out furniture and seating in public areas, so guests can interact but safely. The bar in each country house will be open, and we will be offering a table service for drinks. Payments for goods consumed from the bar will only be accepted by card though. An evening social programme will be available, and details of what's happening at each country house will be provided on arrival.

As a temporary measure, the swimming pools at our country houses that have them will be closed during this time.