There’s been a lot of confusion during the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, but one thing is clear – where we travel, and the qualities we look for in a vacation, might be different for a long time. When it comes to one of the most intimate parts of planning a trip – choosing a hotel – travelers are going to have different considerations than the last time they booked a room.

Of the hotels that have stayed open, or that recently started to accept reservations again, many have stepped up their cleaning regimens and have introduced new features that make it possible to have contactless check in and check out, or have shifted their cancellation policies to have more flexibility. And a few already boast features – even before the pandemic – that happen to lend themselves well to social distancing, from motor lodge layouts to built-in butler's pantries.

Whether you’re daydreaming about traveling next year or are planning a safety-first staycation close to home, these ten hotels offer features that should help you feel at ease while you get some R&R.

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A room-service breakfast at Inn at the 5th, fresh from the private butler's pantry © Meghan O'Dea / Lonely Planet

Inn at the 5th in Eugene, Oregon

In the heart of quirky Eugene's downtown, close to the Amtrak station, Inn at the 5th is a unique hotel with a European vibe. The hotel itself is centered around the Provisions Market Hall, a boutique plaza where you can find a variety of bites, bottles of wine, and full meals at the array of restaurants, wine shop, and the retail space, that sells everything from kitchenware to dry goods, such as Oregon's beloved Aardvark Hot Sauce. 

It's a treat to be able to pick up everything you need to enjoy on the outdoor garden plaza or to take for a picnic at nearby Skinner Butte or Alton Baker park (Inn at the 5th will lend you a cruiser bike to explore). But the real boon for guests hoping to maintain social distancing are the specially designed butler's pantries. Each room at Inn at the 5th has a private pantry with two doors – one that opens to the hall, and one that opens to your room, allowing the concierge to drop off your meal contact-free.

The Drifter Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana

Just as the pandemic has given a boost to road trips and the RV industry, classic motor lodges might have a resurgence thanks to travelers hoping to maintain social distancing. With exterior entrances and outdoor common areas centered around pools, rather than lobbies or restaurants, motor lodges give guests a little extra breathing room.

Luckily, many midcentury motor lodges have recently gotten the boutique treatment with luxe renovations that keep the cute vintage design elements, but add in amenities for modern visitors. One such is the Drifter Hotel in New Orleans, which has been updated with the Instagram set in mind, and also has several nice features that make it even easier to enjoy your R&R while minimizing contact. Take the hotel bar, for example, where you can place an order inside, or from an outside window facing the pool.

Hotel del Coronado was featured in the Marilyn Monroe classic

Hotel del Coronado in San Diego, California

A historic beauty overlooking the Pacific, Hotel del Coronado has been the setting for generations of San Diego vacations. In the original Victorian structure, dating back to 1888, many of the Ocean View rooms boast private balconies, while the newer Beach Village Villas have private patios or balconies included. Some of the Beach Village Cottages also go a step further, with private outdoor soaking tubs or fire pits included in the accommodations. That certainly makes it easy to take in the views while keeping to yourself, but isn't even the best feature of staying at the Coronado right now.

As a member of the Hilton portfolio, the Coronado now features the Cleanstay program – a new regimen implemented by Hilton in response to the pandemic, with enhanced cleaning standards in partnership with Lysol and Dettol, and new options for contactless food delivery. That's on top of a reduced occupancy policy that gives guests plenty of elbow room during their stay. When you do venture out to take advantage of the beach and that sunny SoCal weather, you'll also have access to activities like surfing and paddle boarding that have social distancing built in, offering even more peace of mind.

CitizenM's cozy rooms are perfect for curling up with some snacks for movie night © courtesy of CitizenM 

CitizenM in Boston, Massachusetts

With new contactless service, it’s easy to have as much or as little distance as you want at the CitizenM hotel. The CitizenM offers its guests an app that lets them check in, check out, order extra linens, or ask questions of the concierge remotely. The hotel also offers a 24/7 serve-yourself snacks bar, which makes it easy to grab everything from fresh pastries to bottled juices – and many offerings are now pre-packed in grab-and-go bags for extra security during the pandemic. 

While there's always lots to do in Boston, from Copley Square to the Freedom Trail, to the Charles River Esplanade, it's understandable if you simply want to cozy up in your room at the CitizenM – where the movie selection is as good as the views.

Hawthorn Suites in Schaumburg, Illinois

Just outside Chicago in the cozy suburb of Schaumburg is Hawthorn Suites, a homey hotel that makes it easy to enjoy your vacation without stressing over dining out. This subsidiary of Wyndham rolled out the Homemade Hawthorn program a few years ago to help guests prepare simple, delicious meals in their hotel room kitchens, with recipes and even grocery delivery via Peapod at select locations – including the Schaumburg Hawthorn.

Stretch your legs at nearby Busse Woods, a 3558-acre nature preserve where you can see a herd of elk who have lived here in the fringes of Chi-town since the 1920s, when their forebearers were brought in from Yellowstone National Park. It's just four minutes from the hotel, and offers a lot of room to ramble. Kids will also enjoy the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg, where Lego creations are life-sized.

A private plunge pool off one of the rooms at H20 Suites © courtesy of H2O Suites 

H20 Suites in Key West, FL

H20 Suites is a chic adults-only resort in Key West that boasts amenities as good for social distancing as they are for setting a romantic tone, like private entrances and your own plunge pool and wet bar. Fix a cocktail, slip into the cool water, and don't worry about anything going on outside your room – unless, of course, you ask the concierge to help arrange another activity that helps you keep to yourself, like a fishing or sailing adventure out on the ocean.

Courtyard by Marriott Denver Airport in Denver, Colorado

Allergy sufferers have been breathing easy in PURE rooms across the country, including those available at this Denver Courtyard by Marriott hotel. These rooms boast medical-grade air filters that remove 98-99% of viruses and bacteria, as well as allergens and mold, along with allergy-friendly bedding, tea tree oil-treated HVAC, and extra-thorough cleaning standards with products formulated for those sensitive to chemicals and fragrances. Breathe deep and head out to take advantage of Denver's famous outdoor offerings.

The Westin's room-cleaning robot at work © photo courtesy of The Westin Houston Medical Center

Westin Houston Medical Center in Houston, Texas

Plenty of hotels have stepped up their cleaning protocols, but so far the Westin Houston Medical Center is the only one to hand the tough work of extra tidying up to robots. The Westin is the first hotel in the country to deploy LightStrike™ Germ-Zapping Robots™ developed by epidemiologists who understand better than most the kind of bugs these robots' UV lights are up against. Guests can rest assured the germ zappers work – they haven't been used in hotels before, but they've certainly proved themselves in other settings, like the Houston Medical Center itself. 

In addition to high-tech room cleaning, the Westin has also rolled out some new amenities to help guests stay healthy during their stay. Those include an immune-friendly menu with dishes that emphasize antioxidants, vitamins, and probiotics, as well as immune booster packages packed with supplements like Airborne to put a little extra pep in your step.

Charlotte Marriott City Center in Charlotte, North Carolina

Even before the pandemic, Charlotte Marriott City Center put an emphasis on health with its Stay Well program. These special rooms include Rabbit HEPA air purifiers, natural memory foam mattresses, circadian-friendly lighting, dawn simulator alarm clocks, Vitamin C shower infusers, and aromatherapy machines. There's also as digital access to content from the Cleveland Clinic on sleep, stress and proper nutrition, as well as a local wellness concierge. 

If all that fresh air indoors isn't enough, there are plenty of ways to get some out and about, too. Charlotte is home to the US National Whitewater Center, Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens, and the Carolina Raptor Center, as well as numerous places to bike and paddle board.

Hotel Trio Robot
Rosé can deliver towels, wine and pet treats © Hotel Trio Healdsburg

Hotel Trio in Healdsburg, California

The Westin Houston Medical Center isn't the only hotel that's employing a robot to help guests and hotel staff stay a safe distance apart. Hotel Trio Healdsburg has put a a 3ft-tall robot named Rosé to work delivering everything from chilled bottles to dog treats and groceries, not to mention more standard requests like extra towels or soap. Rosé calls your room when it arrives for a contact-free experience, and is sanitized between each drop-off for extra peace of mind.

This hotel is in the heart of wine country – Healdsburg is just north of Santa Rosa, and about an hour from Napa and Sonoma. If you want to take a spin through Norcal, the Trio offers free bikes for guests. Other fresh-air amenities include an outdoor swimming pool, fire pit, bocce court, and BBQ grill area.

Hidden Pond in Kennebunkport, Maine

Maine already conjures up images of solitary strolls in nature, or at least sitting by yourself at the end of a pier munching on a lobster roll. Hidden Pond Resort in Kennebunkport does nothing to pop the bubble of that pretty mental picture, with private cottages dotting a 60 acre property. Prior to the pandemic, these cottages were available on a nightly basis like any other hotel room. But now that coronavirus has spilled over into the summer travel season, Hidden Pond has tried something new – converting its cottages into a Luxury Summer Home Rental experience with a minimum reservation of 5–7 nights.

That comes with other safety measures like a 50% occupancy rate and Guest Request forms that let you work with your concierge ahead of time to ensure everything you need for your stay is delivered just prior to your arrival, from extra linens to groceries. Hidden Pond is also offering remote check in, no-contact delivery from their Earth at Hidden Pond restaurant, and special family-style “Porch Picnic” dinners that can be delivered to your cottage with 24 hours' notice.

You may also like: 

These tiny-home resorts are perfect social distancing getaways
Is this the end of hostels as we know them?
An expert's safety checklist if you need to travel now

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