Last updated on February 17th, 2023 at 10:39 am
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The Hong Kong hotel quarantine experience was certainly a unique one.
I moved from Toronto to Hong Kong at the end of 2020. Although COVID was already in almost all parts of the world at the time, the pandemic was still relatively new.
COVID vaccines were not widely available so people were extremely cautious.
On the plane ride to Hong Kong, many passengers went full out with their face shields, face masks, disposable raincoats, gloves, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, and protective eyewear.
It might seem a bit ridiculous now but at the time, you had to do what you had to do.
Hong Kong Hotel Quarantine Experience
There were certain designated hotels for COVID quarantine. They were booked up fast too but my mom got me a room at the YMCA hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui.
At the time, the city required travellers to quarantine for 14 days (you can check out the updated quarantine information now on the HK government website).
The rules were strict.
The hotel gives you a one-time card key when you check in. This means you can only use the card to open the hotel door once. After that, it’s done for.
You also had to keep your tracker bracelet on your wrist during the entire quarantine.
Hong Kong Hotel Quarantine Difficulties
Other difficulties about the Hong Kong hotel quarantine experience include the following:
1) Being Confined in a Small Space
Hong Kong is known to have small spaces, including hotel rooms. If you’re from abroad, this might be really difficult.
Being in a standard hotel room in HK is usually not that spacious.
It’s hard enough to stay indoors the entire time already. It would drive a lot of people crazy, let alone being confined in a hotel room.
Having no fresh air was also strange.
Thankfully, I lived on the 11th floor with big windows so I wasn’t completely deprived. You can feel the sun on your skin if you move close enough to the window.
2) Inside Looking Out
When you look outside the window, you see people on the road going about their everyday lives. A part of you might even envy them as they are out and about while you are stuck indoors for another x days.
The people I could see from my room seemed like little ants. It made me feel like I was worlds away from everyone else. In some sense, I was.
It was weird being on the inside looking out.
3) No In-Person Interaction
It was also strange not having any in-person human interaction for two weeks although some introverts might love this.
Sure, you can talk to your friends and family at home but it’s not the same.
Surprisingly though, that wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
4) No One Cleaning Up
In normal circumstances, when you’re staying at a hotel, there’s staff to clean up after you.
During the Hong Kong hotel quarantine experience, I could open the door slightly to leave my garbage outside. Every day, someone would come to pick it up eventually.
Thank god for this.
Can you imagine how smelly your hotel room would be if you had to keep your garbage with you for the entire two weeks?
Depending on how often you wash your bedsheets, this one isn’t too bad. There were no new bed sheets during your hotel stay. You had to sleep on the same ones for 14 days.
It’s not the biggest deal but the look of a clean hotel room is nice, isn’t it?
Instead, you see crumpled-up bedsheets every day, unless you make up your bed sheets every morning yourself.
Adjusting to Your New Temporary
The Hong Kong hotel quarantine experience will feel like when COVID first started all over again. You have all this time on your hands.
Like many other things, the first few days were a tough adjustment. The hardest part for me was the 3 first days. They were pure torture.
Jetlag didn’t help so time was going by slowly. Every hour that passed felt like 60 hours.
Adjusting to your temporary routine will be unsettling at first.
Even the biggest homebody might not realize how much you miss going outside until you realize you can’t.
Establish a Routine
During your hotel quarantine, establish a routine.
Your schedule can look something like chatting with friends and family when you wake up (most of my friends and family are in Toronto so that’s what I did).
Do some reading or watching TV shows in the afternoon and finally end the day with some journaling.
It’s easy to let time go by without doing anything but ask yourself this:
What are some things you want to do during your two weeks in the hotel?
Here’s the time to do some of the things you actually wanted to do.
Is it to finish watching this old TV show you never got around to?
Do you want to do some online shopping on platforms like Vestiaire Collective?
What about your plans when you finish quarantine? Any restaurants you want to eat at or anybody you want to hang out with?
Before my trip back to HK this time around, I haven’t been back in the city for almost 4 years. It might not sound like a long time but I used to visit Hong Kong once a year without fail.
I knew I wanted to take some day trips like going to Hong Kong Disneyland or visiting Tai O Fishing Village.
Planning for life after quarantine gives you something to look forward to. You can use this FREE planner I’ve created can help you organize your plans.
Keep yourself busy during this time.
The motivation might not be present because it feels like the time during your quarantine is never ending but push yourself through it.
It will help the time go by faster and make you feel better about yourself. You would have accomplished a few things when in fact, you could have chosen to accomplish nothing.
Eating During Your Hong Kong Hotel Quarantine
Each hotel has different requirements.
My hotel accepted outside food delivery during my Hong Kong hotel quarantine.
I used my credit card and ordered from food delivery apps like Foodpanda and Deliveroo.
This is something to keep in mind when you’re choosing a hotel to quarantine in.
I stayed at the YMCA hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui, an area famous for its shopping and dining options.
It depends on where you are quarantining but the area you are in hopefully has many dining options as well.
If you don’t want to order food from outside, there’s also room service and loved ones bringing you food (the latter might not be an option anymore though).
Although I could not physically see your loved ones, they dropped off stuff for me to make my living experience as comfortable as possible.
It’s nice eating restaurant food but a home-cooked meal can also be extremely enjoyable.
Having multiple options was already a step up from other hotels as I heard some hotels do not allow food deliveries.
However, it was still a struggle.
Hotel rooms don’t usually have an oven or microwave. You can’t cook or reheat leftovers.
I’m not going to lie. It sucked.
You also have to actively work on not gaining weight during quarantine.
Most of the time, you’re going to be either sitting or lying down.
You can plan time to exercise every day but you’re still burning fewer calories than you would compared to your normal routine.
Make Your Hotel Visit More Comfortable
Something else I recommend you do is to make a list of things you want family and/or friends to bring to you.
If you don’t know anyone in the city, you should check to see if your hotel offers to purchase any goods on the guests’ behalf for a small service fee. My hotel offered that and I’m sure other customers took up on their offer.
For example, many hotels provide bar soap for people to wash their hands. Personally, I’m not a fan so I asked my mom to bring me some liquid hand soap.
This is also the time to ask for some Clorox or Lysol wipes. You can use these wipes to disinfect high-touch areas like the door and sink handles.
The hotel probably did a thorough cleaning before you temporarily moved in but at a time like this, would it hurt to clean a little more?
Won’t you also feel more reassured if you cleaned up the place yourself? That way, you’ll KNOW it’s clean.
Thanks to Buzzfeed articles about hotel industry secrets, I, along with many others, have learned that many cleaners do not tend to wash glass cups, utensils or the kettle.
As a precaution, you should probably wash those yourself so add a sponge and some dish soap to the list of things you need.
Then, there are personal preferences as well.
The hotel will not have everything you need. You’re going to spend a significant amount of time in this room so think about what other items you want with you.
Home quarantine is hard enough let alone being in a hotel quarantine.
Make your stay as comfortable as possible. Trust me, you’ll appreciate it.
The experience isn’t going to be enjoyable for most people but hopefully, it’s something you only have to experience once.
Finishing Up Quarantine – 14 Days Later
The day you get let out is strange.
After you’ve been isolated for so many days, you’ve rejoined society.
You’ll realize there’s so much noise and humans everywhere. It might even be slightly overwhelming at first.
When I finished my Hong Kong hotel quarantine, I thought I would be more excited than I actually was. I found myself missing the peace and quiet that is rare to have in a busy city like Hong Kong.
The quarantine hotel experience was going to be one I was never going to forget.
Next up is moving back home with my parents.
Now to You – Hong Kong Hotel Quarantine
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i love this honest account of lockdown life. I live in germany and flew to panama to visit my parents after 14 months of not seeing them. fortunately, I only had to quarantine for 5 days. to get through it, routine is essential as you said 🙂 I look forward to following your Hk adventures – i spent a lot of time there in my early 20s 🙂
thank you so much! what do you think of HK? how was your quarantine?