How do I book my hotel quarantine stay?

Feb 17, 2021

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So, you’re travelling to England and know that you’re going to be subject to the country’s new hotel quarantine requirement. You know that you’ll have to spend 10 days in full hotel quarantine. And you know that it’ll cost you a pretty penny to do it.

But, where do you start?

Related: Everything you need to know about the UK’s hotel quarantine

Thankfully, the government has made the process of searching for and booking a quarantine hotel arrangement quite seamless. Through its online booking portal, you can book your stay, which also includes transportation from the airport to the hotel (and back to the airport, once your quarantine is over), two COVID-19 tests to take on days two and eight of quarantine and food and beverage.

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Before diving into how to book a hotel quarantine arrangement, let’s review who actually needs to undergo their mandatory 10-day quarantine in a hotel, rather than those who can do so at home. Any British or Irish national or a third-party national with residency rights in the U.K. who has been in one of 33 travel ban countries in the past 10 days will have to undergo their 10-day quarantine in a government-approved hotel on their arrival to England.

Related: Government details stricter quarantine measures, hotel quarantine to cost £1,750

Non-nationals and non-residents who have been in one of the 33 travel ban countries in the past 10 days are not permitted to enter England at this time. They can, however, transit from a travel ban country to a non-travel ban country, stay there for 10 days and then enter England with a 10-day quarantine outside of a hotel.

Related: All 33 countries that are on the UK’s travel ban list

At this time, the 33 travel ban counties are:

Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Burundi, Cape Verde, Chile, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Eswatini, French Guiana, Guyana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Suriname, Tanzania, United Arab Emirates, Uruguay, Venezuela, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

So, if you’re eligible to enter the U.K. still and have passed through one of the 33 travel ban countries in the past 10 days, you’ll need to undergo your 10-day quarantine in a hotel.

To book a quarantine, head to the government’s booking portal. Once there, hit the option that says “Proceed to managed quarantine package.”

(Image courtesy of CTM)

Then, you’ll need to select your arrival port. If you’re entering England from a travel ban country, you must do so through one of five ports: London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London City, Farnborough or Birmingham. As part of the cost of your hotel quarantine stay, you will be provided with transport from the airport on arrival to your quarantine hotel — and back to the airport, once your quarantine is over.

Note that Scotland has its own separate rules, which require that all international arrivals — not just those coming from travel ban countries — quarantine in a hotel. Scottish arrivals must arrive in one of three ports: Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen.

On the hotel booking platform, you must then select your arrival port and arrival date, as well as how many travellers are in your party. Once you’ve selected a date, the portal will automatically select your checkout date.

(Image courtesy of CTM)

You’ll then be presented with the total cost for your stay. In my working example, as a solo traveller arriving to Heathrow, the package will cost me £1,750. The package includes 10 full days (11 nights) of accommodation at the hotel, as well as food and beverages (breakfast, lunch, evening meal and hotel and cold drinks), transfers to and from the airport, security while at the hotel and two COVID-19 tests that you’ll need to take on days two and eight of your quarantine.

If two adults are sharing the same room, there’s an additional charge of £650 — a total of £2,400 for two people for the quarantine. Additionally, if there is a child aged between 5 and 12 years old, there’s a charge of £325 for the full quarantine. Children younger than 5 are not charged for the hotel quarantine and are not required to take COVID-19 tests during quarantine.

Additionally, if you need to extend your stay, you will need to pay extra at the following rates:

  • £152 per day for one adult in one room;
  • £41 per day for the second adult;
  • £12 per day for a child aged between 5 and 12.

You may need to extend your stay, for example, if you test positive for COVID-19 at any point during your stay. If you test positive, you will not be able to leave hotel quarantine until 10 days have passed from the date the test was administered.

(Image courtesy of CTM)

On the final booking page, you will confirm your stay, including date and port of arrival. You will also input your personal and billing information. Any costs incurred during the hotel quarantine stay will be charged to the credit card that’s used to book the stay.

Unfortunately, the booking portal doesn’t indicate which hotel you will be staying at — you won’t know that information until you get closer to your stay.

(Image courtesy of CTM)

Once you’ve confirmed your information and payment details, book the stay. You’ll get an email with the booking reference number, which you’ll need to include on your passenger locator form and to show authorities on arrival.

You’ll be able to leave your hotel quarantine after 10 full days of isolation — provided you don’t test positive at any point during your stay. Included in the package, you will be provided with transport back to your arrival airport, where you will then be responsible for arranging your own transport to your final destination.

There are a very small number of exeptions for travellers who do not need to undergo a hotel quarantine. Check here to see the full list.

What happens if I don’t book a quarantine hotel in advance?

It’s worth noting that if you are subject to hotel quarantine, you are required to book through the government’s portal into an approved accommodation. For that reason, you cannot book your own hotel accommodations separately.

If you arrive in England from a travel ban country and don’t have a quarantine package booked, you may be subject to a £4,000 fine — and then pay the cost of the quarantine hotel package on top of that.

During the week of hotel quarantine launch, the government said that it had fined four travellers £10,000 in Birmingham who arrived from a travel ban country without hotel quarantine packages booked.

“On the first day of implementation, we have received six passengers who had declared travelling from a red list country, who were taken to the quarantine hotel,” said Chris Todd, the temporary assistant chief constable of the West Midlands police. “We also had four passengers who were identified as having travelled from a red list country, that hadn’t declared it. So there are some people who have attempted to hide their routes but that’s not worked out. They were identified and received £10,000 fines as a result.”

The government is also saying that it can charge travellers who lie on their passenger locator form up to £10,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison. Additionally, if you break quarantine rules, you could be fined up to £10,000.

What else do I have to do before my flight?

The hotel quarantine is only one part of the journey to the U.K. In addition to booking a hotel quarantine package (if required), you must also fill out a passenger locator form before your flight. On the form, you will need to provide your hotel quarantine booking reference number as proof that you’ve booked your hotel package.

Additionally, you must have a negative COVID-19 test result prior to boarding your flight. As of 18 January, all arrivals to the U.K. must have a negative test result, taken no more than 72 hours prior to scheduled departure. The travel provider will check to ensure you have both a negative test and completed passenger locator form before being allowed to travel.

What if I’m not arriving in England from a travel ban country?

If you’re arriving in England from a country that’s not on the travel ban list, you will still have to undergo a 10-day quarantine period — but it doesn’t have to be done in a government-approved hotel.

You must still have filled out a passenger locator form, have a negative COVID-19 test and book and pay for your testing package, which will be taken during the quarantine. The “travel testing package” costs £210 and can be booked using the same government portal as shown above.

(Image courtesy of CTM)

On days two and eight of your 10-day self-isolation period, you must take the tests. If either of the tests returns a positive result, you will need to quarantine for an additional 10 days from the date the test was administered.

Bottom line

As of 15 February, the United Kingdom has implemented stricter border policies. Among them, travellers who have passed through high-risk countries in the past 10 days must undergo their quarantine in a government-approved hotel. But, if you’re required to quarantine in a hotel, booking the hotel quarantine package is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle. Ultimately, you don’t want to arrive and be told you’ll be fined several thousand pounds because you didn’t book in advance.

Featured photo by Adrian Dennis/Getty Images.

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