How to create a hotel experience at home.

Japanese food

After almost two years of social restrictions and government-imposed closures, we are finally seeing the resumption of greater normality. However, with different restrictions applying in each region of the UK, and concerns about new variants lingering in the headlines, industries like the travel sector can’t yet resume their normal rhythms.

The hotel experience remains blunted by COVID restrictions, with baseline measures still in place in Scotland. In-room dining menus and welcome packs are often absent, coffee and tea facilities have been pared down, and staffing issues make everything from table availability to the speed of room service delivery unpredictable. Some venues won’t let you into their restaurants unless you’ve booked in advance, even if you’re staying at the adjoining hotel.

Instead of a compromised night away, you could create a boutique hotel ambience at home. This isn’t as odd as it sounds, since small touches will make your bedroom feel more like a restorative boudoir – and less like a place for snatching a few hours of sleep between hectic days…

The ultimate staycation

Firstly, clear your diary in advance. Finish work early or schedule your ‘trip’ for a weekend so you can ‘arrive’ mid-afternoon. Ask relatives to babysit any children, and turn off work-related electronic devices. The aim here is to maximise relaxation, and that won’t happen if normal daily life keeps intruding.

Prepare for the ‘visit’ by giving your bedroom a quick makeover. Borrow cushions from elsewhere in the house to scatter across the bed, and use this as an opportunity to deploy brand-new bedding to further increase the same-but-different ambience. Tone down lighting, with soft lamps creating a warm glow rather than a harsh glare. A vase of flowers is another appealing touch, while the romantically inclined could surprise their partner by scattering rose petals across the bedding. Even relocating a coffee machine from the kitchen (or borrowing one from a relative) replicates the home-from-home nature of luxury hotel suites.

Little touches of luxury

Boutique hotels use affordable yet appealing tricks to heighten our senses and create a welcoming environment. Scented candles add romance (and a pleasantly unfamiliar aroma), while hot chocolate melts and luxury confectionery replicate the surprise-and-delight features commonly left on a guest’s pillow. High-end lifestyle magazines and unopened luxury toiletries are other treats you wouldn’t normally have in your bedroom, helping to make this more of an occasion.

A key attraction of any hotel visit is the food and beverage offerings. Again, this can be replicated easily and more affordably than an in-room dining menu. Renowned restaurants and celebrated chefs have expanded into the local takeaway market to survive lockdown, delivering fine dining to your door. Michelin-starred chefs and gourmet catering firms also offer ready-made meals which can be easily prepared with minimal fuss, offering an unusual and memorable evening meal.

The beauty of a stay(at home)cation is that you can cherry-pick the best aspects of any hotel experience. If you miss Jacuzzis, a jet bath spa attachment replicates the sensation in any bathtub. If you’d traditionally book a massage, qualified masseurs can visit your home at a pre-arranged time. If the highlight of any away is watching a pay movie in a dressing gown, treat yourself to a brand-new robe and sign up to a streaming service. And if you don’t have a TV in the bedroom, reposition one from another room, for one night only…

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