This article about how to survive a 21 day hotel quarantine was inspired by a client recently, who asked me for advice after the Hong Kong Authorities increased the quarantine requirements for travellers of 16 countries, upon their return to the city. His 1 week hotel quarantine was extended to a 21 day quarantine.
I have just finished my 14 day hotel quarantine at the Nina South Side Hotel in Hong Kong, so somehow this qualifies me to at least share my recommendations, gained from experience.
A 14 or 21 day hotel quarantine is long but it does not have to be dreaded. If you are prepared, you can make this experience a very enjoyable one. I did. It's a time you can take to look after yourself, both physically and mentally. This is my second quarantine in 18 months. The first one was a 14-day home quarantine with my teenage daughter, in March 2020. The second one a 14-day hotel quarantine that I completed 2 days ago.
So here are my tips to make your hotel quarantine as enjoyable as possible.
Book your quarantine hotel early
This will ensure availability in the hotel of your choice. Sadly, some travellers who have to extend their quarantine stay, after the authorities change the quarantine rules, do not have a choice. I feel for you, if you are in this case. But if you can, book early.
I booked my hotel quarantine as soon as I booked the flight, about 2 months before. I booked my flight knowing I could change the date or cancel at no cost, and the hotel that had the most flexibility with cancellations or date changes.
When reserving your hotel room, reserve the fitness equipment and other amenities you would like to borrow/rent from the hotel
- fitness equipment (bike, yoga mat, walking pad, rower, fitness ball...etc)
- air purifier
- office chair
Prepare your hotel quarantine bag before you leave
If the hotel allows outside deliveries, and you are quarantining upon your return home, have a friend deliver to the hotel the items you would like to have during your quarantine but do not want to take with you during your trip. See my list of personal essentials below.
Have a routine and set goals
Most quarantine inmates would tell you that one thing that helps a lot is to have a routine. I totally agree. So think in advance what you would like to do during your quarantine, read, learn new skills, self-care, work, exercise...etc, and pack whatever items you will need to follow your routine.
I had just flown from France to Hong Kong when I started my hotel quarantine, so it took me the good part of the first week to settle in. I was jet-lagged and had difficulty figuring out what time of the day was best suited for me to work and what when I was best suited to play. If you do not have work to do, then it's all play, but you will find that without a routine you could spend days watching Netflix and feel your time was wasted. Having a routine helps the days go by faster.
Decide when is the best time to work, sleep, exercise and relax
I first wanted to exercise in the morning. However, with jet lag, I was never up early enough to exercise before breakfast was served. Since my brain functions better in the morning, I was also more inclined to work in the morning. So I either worked or exercised but never both on the same day, at first. This frustrated me because I wanted to do both as much as possible. I had a treadmill, a rower, weights, exercise bands and a yoga mat. Getting all that in the room had required a lot of effort and I did not want it to be for nothing. So I was committed to exercise.
Work at your most productive time
For work, it is important to know when you are the most productive so you can get a lot done in less time, as to have more time to play, read, learn, etc.
By the second week, however, I noticed it was preferable for me to work in the morning and exercise late afternoon before dinner. After I set my routine, I was a lot more productive and the days passed by very quickly. Therefore a routine is a must, for me, to survive the quarantine.
There are a few things you could bring or have delivered to your hotel that would make your stay more enjoyable.
Here is my personal list of essentials
- the fitness equipment you are likely to use, like a stationary bike, a treadmill/walking pad, weights, resistance bands, a yoga mat and stretching band.
- a power strip/ and a multi-plug. I had the former but not the latter that I ended up buying online. There are surprisingly few electrical outlets in a standard hotel room, too few for the many electronic devices we carry around these days. You might be able to borrow extension cords from the hotel, but since everyone needs them, the hotel may be in short supply.
- an external monitor if you are planning to work a lot. As you have probably noticed if you have been working from home at time, you will quickly find the small screen of your laptop to be very hard on the eyes. I did not have an external monitor and I wish I had.
- an HDVI cable so you can connect your phone/laptop/tablet to the hotel tv monitor, to watch your favourite video subscription site.
- your favourite brand of ground coffee, tea or chocolate, and a French Press if you're a coffee aficionado. Most hotel will provide a kettle. Some provide Nespresso machines and coffee pods, so check with them first. My hotel was one on the most affordable ones so they provided instant coffee packs and tea bags but I like "real coffee" in the morning. For me, instant coffee is not real coffee 🙂
- a small portable multi-cooker. I did not have a microwave in the room (nor do I use one normally) so the multi-cooker was a godsend as it enabled me to keep my meals warm or reheat them and eat when I was hungry and not necessarily when meals were served. The food gets cold very fast too. So I appreciated having a small cooker to warm it up before I ate.
- a table mat and a kitchen cloth. I borrowed plates, bowls, cups and a glasses from the hotel and this all set up made it so much more luxurious than eating out of plastic or biodegradable containers. The kitchen cloth helps save kitchen towels. The hotel provided dish soap but if it is not provided, it is useful to have some too. I cleaned and saved all the food containers I used, and took them to the Green Collection center for recycling on the day I was released. Each meal was served in 1 or 2 food containers so recycling them has a significant impact on the environment, particularly if a lot of people recycle their used containers as well.
- a portable speaker. Another godsend for me as it was playing all day and made me feel at home.
- an e-reader or books as it keeps you off your screen
- a clothe line and suction hooks. The hotel will not do your laundry but can provide clean sheets and towels when you need them. I used the shampoo provided by the hotel as laundry detergent and would only wash clothes that could dry overnight. Hanging space was a problem though, so a clothe line and suction hooks would have come very handy to install in the shower.
- comfortable and lightweight clothes as they will be all you will ever wear during your stay.
- a soda maker. This was another godsend for me as I do not drink soda and I was getting bored of flat water. So I packed my soda maker in the bag was delivered to the hotel prior to my arrival, along with lemons and limes. I could have ordered bottles of sparkling water but I find having a soda maker is both economical and better for the environment.
- an art & craft project, a puzzle, games...etc. I did not need any of that as I had lots of online courses to catch up on.
- all the cables and adaptors your need to charge your electronic devices.
borrow from the hotel
There is a lot you can borrow from the hotel, like a bottle opener, air purifier, office chair and even a separate table to use as a desk or dining table so your dining area is separate from your working area, space permitting. I also borrowed an extra flat sheet that I used as a table cloth. This made my meals a lot more appealing. I did a dry quarantine this time around but I borrowed a wine glass to drink my lime soda in, as a sundowner after my workout and before dinner.
My hotel offered a choice of several menus and I selected the Healthy menu, asking the rice and pasta to be replaced with salad. When I did not care for a particular dish, I requested to switch to another menu for that particular meal. Nina hotel was very accommodating.
I hope this will help better prepare for your hotel quarantine. I have heard a lot of positive feedback from people's quarantine. If you are travelling with kids, you will have other challenges that I am not covering in this article, particularly if they are young. Some hotels let you book connecting rooms, which are sometimes just as good (and maybe less expensive) as a suite.
If you have other tips that are not mentioned in this article, please put them in the comments below for everyone to enjoy. I will love to hear from your experience too. If you like this article, please click the like button and let me know in your comment.
I wish you a great quarantine and stay safe!
PS: Stretch Asia has fitness equipment for rent
We have a stationary bike and a rower you can rent from us for a small fee if you're interested. Please contact MaryAnne at +852 2907 1882 is you would like us to reserve you a piece of equipment and arrange delivery for you.