Travel Insider: Notes from a five-star COVID-19 quarantine site

Do five stars make a difference when you’re in quarantine? Our travel insider reveals all.

five star hotel closed

Do five stars make a difference when you’re in COVID-19 quarantine? Our travel insider – who prefers to remain anonymous – reveals all.


Locked up with no fresh air or exercise.

We became stranded overseas when the world went mad.

Our arrival in Melbourne was a whole new experience.

Hundreds of staff lined the passage: border force, police, medical staff, customs, immigration, government officials. We were read our responsibilities; it seemed we had no rights and certainly no choice in our movement from here on. We were required to wear masks.

Under constant supervision, we were ushered onto SkyBuses to make the journey.

In the hotel lobby, we were read our responsibilities again and signed our lives away after being reminded of the severe penalties we would incur for not complying.

The room was spacious enough to allow for a couch, desk, king-size bed (there are two of us), an open bathroom (terrible) and one chair, although housekeeping did bring another chair on request.

Our view was the skyline to the north-east, which did give us something to look at.

looking out a window

From here on it was a very long haul. The days were long, interrupted only by meals. We were not permitted out of our rooms at any time. Security guards were in the passage all the time.

No opening windows, and any exercise was 14 steps from the door to the window.

Being confined in a small space is not a pleasant experience. I started jogging on the spot (boring) and doing yoga or Pilates, the husband paced back and forth reading. 

Life settled into breakfast lunch and dinner, all appearing in brown bags at your door. The food was good mostly. Breakfast was always the same, two hard-boiled eggs, two pieces of fruit, yoghurt, muesli bar and a brown bag of three small pastries and a bottle of juice. Lunch was soups, salads, warm evening meal in foil and a delicious dessert. No complaints except there was too much food.

We would get a welfare check sometimes. A person would call to say, ‘How can we make things easier for you?’

Some folk found this level of restriction and the lack of fresh air very distressing. If you caused problems, government officials and security were quickly around to be forceful. We heard domestic disputes, swearing and pounding on the windows, but in general we were kept in a bubble unaware of anything except our own space.

Finally, Easter Sunday arrived, release day. A text at 1pm notified our taxi had arrived. No, wait in your room until security escorts you down. After three-and-a-half hours, I call again. No, we are releasing people floor by floor, we have no idea what that means, how many floors? Are we the last or in the middle? Finally, at 6pm join another queue to get to the lobby, forget social distancing. Paperwork, sign here, go to taxi. By this stage, it was chaotic, and they just wanted everyone out. Our random taxi driver, who heard there was work going at our hotel, delivered us home. He was happy, he hadn’t had much work, and we were in a disassociated state after being removed from the world for 15 days.

Do you know anyone who has undergone a 14-day total isolation?

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    To make a comment, please register or login
    Karl Marx
    9th May 2020
    Let's use the correct term & not the term "quarantine" that the government use. It is Hotel Arrest, purely & simply whether you agree with the 14 days or not you are under arrest & placed in a small room with no fresh air or outside contact.
    fish head
    9th May 2020
    Consider the alternative. We have seen what the Ruby Princess debacle has done in NSW.There are no winners in that situation. It was not in not way perfect but it did the job in the time frame allowed.
    9th May 2020
    Husband and I chose to return to the comforts of our own home coming from overseas.
    We had travelled overseas via a direct flight plus a short domestic flight to where we wished to stay. However a few days before our arrival there, the government had imposed the 14 day self-isolation rule for travellers, which was no hardship as family had organised our accommodation in their home so that we had separate entrance and living area to the rest of them, and we were allowed to walk the streets for exercise using the 2 metre social distancing rule. Wonderful!
    Only thing was that all direct flights back to our home town (WA) were ceased on the day of our arrival. So had to reorganise return flights via the Eastern States to WA. And like many others had to spend 14 days in 'Quarantine' - term used by the Victorian Government as we too flew into Melbourne. Like the writer of the article, we were (thank goodness) given gloves and masks and escorted off the plane, which had few passengers on, but had to wait to go through immigration and customs as previous flight to our arrival had been over 400 souls, and they had taken over 5 hours to clear. Our turn was very quick through, herded into a bus and taken to out accommodation and similar experience.
    Not sure if 14 steps from door to window, but I know that for us (both over 75) exercise consited of walking from window to around other side of the bed and back ot end, round into the bathroom and circle in there, then out and round one side of bed and back to the window. (I must have got better at walking as first few days I took between 65-75 steps to do one round, then eventually were doing it with 45-55 steps.We wer allowed out once for fresh air (were told we would get it once per week for 15 minutes), but second week, due to rain, it didn't happen.
    Our room faced south and we were overlooking the Crown Metropol where we saw those getting their 'fresh air' in a covered walkway towards the top of the building. There we could see the security guards (we always travel with a pair of binoculars) waiting while the people, some in small family groups, got their time outside.
    However, that didn't detract from the fact we were looked in, couldn't get fresh air and boredom could have set in. Even the possibility of getting a 'Kindness Card' from Woolies sounded good, until the realisation that you had to spend $50 minimum - and staying in a hotel, what would you spend it on, so couldn't even get a magazine! Now home in WA where, yes - in self-isolation for another 14 days, at home, but not allowed off the property.
    All in all, I think the self-isolation in NZ was better than what I've seen here. 2 metres distancing is much better than 1.5 as the virus can go further than 1.5metres in a sneeze or cough. As for elbow 'hugging' - ridiculous! Where are you advised to sneeze or cough into - elboe and bugs travel around that!
    Karl Marx
    9th May 2020
    Yes Hotel arrest is not an enjoyable experience. Many unfavourable reports of people with depression, anxiety & other mental issues as well as those with disabilities & the handicapped find it the hardest as no support at all from government or hotel. Only support is on the phone & that to me is a useful as tits on bull. At least in a jail you get the exercise yard every day for a period of time. The hotels should open up their facilities for exercise on a roster basis like gyms & the pools.
    Quarantine, pigs bum, call it what it really is. HOTEL ARREST just like a criminal.

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