How our country house stays have adapted after lockdown

Newfield Hall, HF Holidays Country House Hotel in Malham, Southern Yorkshire Dales

What to expect when visting an HF Country House in the Covid era

As a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic, our country house stays have been organised a little differently; since we returned to action, extra steps have been taken to keep our guests and house teams safe. Some beloved staples of the HF Holidays experience have had to be parked temporarily and new protocols introduced to ensure that guests and house team members feel safe and protected. The certification below though are the official UK marks 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 have adapted and, if you read to the foot of the page, there's a short film shot at one of our country houses, where you can walk through the house to see the new measures in place.

Image
Image

We would ask all our guests to respect the measures we have put in place in accordance with the law to keep everyone safe.

Image

Holidays running

Guided Walking Holidays have recommenced at all country houses. We have updated the HF website with information around the walking itineraries available each day and the leaders will be available throughout your stay for further information. On guided walks, leader:guest ratios will return to normal. Where transport is to be used, a full risk assessment has been completed and Covid-secure guidance will be adhered to. At the houses, boot rooms will be open as usual, with social distancing measures in place where still required (Scotland & Wales). We are also offering Self-Guided Walking Holidays. Within each house, guests will be able to use our Discovery Points for walking route information, inspiration, and ideas as to where to explore.

Each day, the latest weather forecast will be displayed for all guests to check to ensure appropriate clothing is worn for the walks.

Please note, if you decide to do your own walks, or you are on a self-guided walking holiday, you must complete an Independent Walker Card each day. These will be found near the Discovery Point in the house.

Transport

With the change in governemnt guidance from 19 July, our holidays from 21 June will operate with transport. We have worked closely with all of our transport providers to ensure that our use of transport is compliant with all COVID regulations. We have successfully trialed the reintroduction of transport on a variety of holidays since we reopened. All our transport providers have confirmed that they operate within strict COVID guidelines and their measures include: larger or additional vehicles; enhanced cleaning regimes; seating guests in their personal bubbles; requiring all guests to wear face masks (unless exempt); filling back seats first; disembarking from the front and increased ventilation. Should you have any concerns about using transport, please speak to one of our team before your holiday or chat to your holiday leader or House Manager at any time during your stay.

Holidays with excursions & visits to attractions

On your holiday, there may be venues that you have the option to visit that are not included in the cost of your holiday. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, booking arrangements for some venues have changed for this year making it necessary for us to book and pay for tickets in advance. Your leader will offer you the choice of whether or not you wish to visit these venues in advance and the total cost will be added to your bill at the house which you will pay when you check out, preferably by card. If we are visiting a venue owned by the National Trust, English Heritage etc. and you are a current member, you will not have to pay but your leader will need to see your valid membership card as you will be booked in as part of our group reservation (you will also need to show your card on arrival at the venue). You should settle your bill at the bar or with the house team before you check out.

How to find your Trip Notes

Trip Notes are detailed, downloadable PDFs of your holiday. They include the house address and telephone number. To see and download them, please visit our website

  • Search or navigate to the holiday that you have booked using the search box or menus
  • On the individual holiday page, on the first ‘Overview’ tab, you will find a list of available Trip Notes for the various departures of that holiday
  • To see trip notes specific to your departure date, click on the ‘Dates & Prices’ tab on the far right
  • Against each departure date you will see a PDF icon under the column for Trip Notes
  • Click this for the specific trip note and itinerary detail for that departure date, which will automatically download

In addition, our leaders will be available to help you choose your ideal walks during your stay.

Image

Our country Houses

Even as we welcome guests back to our country houses, and look to enjoy the changes in government guidance from 19 July, we will continue to take extra steps to keep our guests, leaders, and staff safe in our HF country houses.

With regards to physical Distancing Measures and Group Sizes around the Houses, the English, Scottish and Welsh governments are not in sync, so measures in our country houses will vary between the nations. With the relaxation of social distancing in England, from 19 July we will be allowing larger groups to dine and relax in the bar together. However, we will still give guests space e.g. we will seat 6 people at a table where pre-pandemic we may have seated 8. If you have any concerns about distancing, please speak to the House Manager. The government recommendation for England is to wear face coverings in crowded areas. In Scotland and Wales though physical distancing is still in place, so this will be adhered to indoors and outdoors. In these houses, guests will need to wear face masks in public areas except when eating and drinking. The Scottish and Welsh governments are reviewing their guidance in August and we will adapt our measures in line with any updated guidance at this time. Note, if you have an age, health, or disability reason for not wearing a face covering, you may feel more comfortable providing an exemption card or wearing a lanyard to identify this. This is a personal choice, not the law.

We will ensure our public rooms are well ventilated by opening doors and windows wherever possible.

We ask that our guests please adhere to the social distancing measures we have introduced, to keep our guests, leaders and teams safe. If guests fail to adhere to the guidelines, they will be asked to leave the HF House.

Image

Cleanliness at our country houses

We have always rated country house cleanliness highly but are even more aware of it now. To ensure the highest standards of cleanliness are met across all areas of our houses, we have adopted new enhanced cleaning protocols. Our teams have been 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, when we re-open 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, and bin emptying, will be available on request. 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.

Image

Check-in & welcome

Check-in: 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. We cannot accept luggage before 4pm and guests will be unable to access any of the hotel facilities before 4pm.

We are currently unable to serve afternoon tea on arrival, but biscuits will be available in your room. 

Welcome Information: 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 your stay in the house, the menu for the duration of your stay, dinner & picnic lunch order forms and the guest registration form for completion. This welcome pack will replace the normal welcome meeting.

Bedrooms: Bathrobes & slippers will be provided for guests staying in our Best or Better rooms.

Check-out: 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.

Image

Dining at the country houses

We are renowned for the quality of our country house meals, and following teh change in government guidance on 19 July, some HF staples will return to our country houses. Menus for the week will be available in your room on arrival.

Breakfast will be a self-service choice of yoghurts, cereals, and fruit. Tea, coffee, and toast will be delivered to the table and a cooked breakfast will also be available to order.

Breakfast is served from 7.45am - 9.15am 

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.

Dinner is served at either 7.15pm or 7.30pm.  Please check at the house for details

NOTE: Our house at Alnmouth may have two sittings for dining to ensure we can provide guests with a spacious dining experience. The sittings are as follows:

Breakfast: 1st sitting 7.30am – 8.15am, 2nd sitting 8.30am – 9.15am

Dinner: 1st sitting 6.30pm – 7.30pm, 2nd sitting 7.45pm – 8.45pm

Sittings will be allocated. Unfortunately, we are unable to take any special requests for preferred mealtime sittings. Breakfast times may be slightly different depending on walk departure times.

 

Image

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 even after relaxation of givernment guidance. 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. We will be offering a table service but guests can also come to the bar to order (depending on local restrictions). Bar opening times will be displayed at each house.

At this time the evening social programme has been replaced by individual or small group walks talks which allow guests to talk through the following day’s walk options with leaders. If you are staying as a self-guided guest and guided walk leaders are resident at the house, they would be delighted to advise you on any of our Discovery Point walks.  We hope to reintroduce some evening entertainment in August.

All our swimming pools will open as planned, except for Brecon and Glen Coe, which will have delayed pool re-openings. The number of guests in the pool at any one time will be limited; guests may be required to book a time when they wish to swim (30-minute slots) if the number of guests exceeds the pool capacity. 

In your words: guest feedback from our country houses

"The staff did a wonderful job providing as normal an experience as was possible and with the same excellent attention to detail. I had a lovely week.'

(Guest at Derwent Bank, Northern Lake District)

"We really appreciated the efforts all the staff were making to ensure we had a relaxing holiday despite the restrictions. We could see a lot of thought had been put into taking measures to achieve adherence to Covid rules and guidelines. It felt safe and proportionate. Well done for achieving so much, quickly and properly, in bringing back your staff and reopening your houses."

(Guest at Longmynd House, Church Stretton)