COVID-19 travel restrictions mean the next time we can jet off somewhere is very uncertain. It’s looking likely that we will be able to travel domestically sooner, but as they say … there’s no place like home.
You may have heard of the term ‘staycation’. Isn’t that what we’ve been doing for the past four weeks, you might ask. Well, here are some tips and tricks to make the most out of your space and turn your house into a luxury hotel.
Seeing we’ve had to spend the Easter break cooped up, now is the perfect time to mix things up a bit. It’s possible to make the days distinct and give them definition, even if 23 hours are spent within the same walls. And, if you plan it right, a week at home can feel far more relaxing than an expensive trip in an unfamiliar place.
A study published by Dr Masako Tamaki in the journal Current Biology found that the left hemisphere of the brain stayed more active during the first couple of nights spent sleeping in an unfamiliar place. It may be due to the primal need to stay alert when in unknown places with unknown dangers. That’s why you can sometimes feel more tired returning from a holiday than before you left. So, a staycation can be the perfect time to catch up on some rest and relaxation.
A good luxury hotel break should really be about the property rather than the destination, anyway. And with a few smart decorating choices that cater to each of your five senses, it can feel like you’re lounging in a whole new place.
What makes a good hotel? It’s the decadent atmosphere, the change of (interior) scenery, the attentive service, and the sense of feeling at home away from home. All these things are – with some effort and imagination – possible to recreate in your own house. Best of all, doubles start from $0.00, inclusive of breakfast and free wifi (of course).
De-stress the bedroom – it’s the most important room in the house, the place where we spend (well, at least for the next few weeks) a third of our day. Yet bedrooms seem to end up becoming a dumping ground for discarded clothing, dog-eared magazines and half-empty jars of make-up.
One of the greatest joys of walking into a clean, tidy hotel room is the sense of space and the mental freedom that affords. Getting out of context really helps to recalibrate your thoughts, and even though stepping out of the front door is hard right now, it is still possible to rethink the space we use.
Start by removing all unnecessary clutter from the room: hang clothes in the wardrobe, put cosmetics in the cupboard and remove any traces of work. It’s called a bedroom for a reason, after all; this is a place dedicated to the great glory of sleep.
Worship your bed
It’s true, hotels do seem to use an extraordinary number of sheets, blankets and cushions. Who actually owns a valance? And do you know the difference between a standard and Oxford pillow?
But there’s a lot to be said for making a fuss of your bed; it should be the focal point of the room. Find clean bedsheets, iron them, and throw a blanket on top for decoration. Finish the look by gathering cushions from the living room.
In the evening, do your own turndown service. Fold down a corner of the bed, switch on a bedside lamp and consider leaving a chocolate on the pillow.
Around the house
You know that feeling of calm when you walk into a pristine hotel suite free of clutter and no overflowing laundry hamper to be seen? Tackle the clutter around your home to re-create this feeling.
A study by UCLA found that women who live with more clutter have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So, take some time to organise the rooms in your home that you spend the most time in.
Such as floor and table lamps with neutral shades can evoke a sense of calm. Try redesigning a corner into a quiet reading nook by layering accent lighting and placing a comfortable chair there.
Hotel rooms are often symmetrical to evoke a sense of stillness. The mirror image look means there are fewer novel pieces and objects to focus on and take in all at once.
Enjoy the silence
Moments of pure silence can be rare, so find and enjoy them. If you often have the TV or radio as background noise, it’s time to switch it off. A study by Duke University found that two hours of silence per day prompted cell development in the hippocampus of mice, the area of the brain associated with memory and awareness. This is the perfect time to start a mediation practice or just turn off all appliances and embrace some quiet time.
Create a playlist
After you’ve enjoyed the quiet, curate a stress-busting playlist. Songs with around 60 beats per minute have been found to be optimal for relaxation, so create a playlist with lyric-free soft classical or light jazz music.
Light a candle or use a room spray
Citrus fragrances have been found to lessen anxiety. A Mayo Clinic study found that participants were less anxious during a stressful test when they smelt sweet orange essential oil. But any incense or candle fragrance can be pleasant, so use what you have on hand.
Eating – or rather having excellent food cooked and served to you – is one of the great pleasures of a hotel stay. A simple way to spoil yourself would be to order an Uber Eats or Deliveroo take-out. Look up nearby hotels and restaurants in your area too, as many kitchens are still preparing food.
Purchase a bottle of holiday-worthy alcohol – it wouldn’t be a holiday without a drink or two, so splurge on a nice wine, mix up a gin and tonic or re-create your favourite cocktail. Even better, if you can have someone else make it for you!
Make bathing a ritual, and use the nice towels – elevate the bathroom beyond a functional wash place by transforming it into a DIY spa. Maybe open the window and listen to nature’s orchestra of birdsong; with less traffic on our roads and planes in the air, it’s becoming much easier to tune in.
Smell is equally important here: if you don’t have any oil or salts available, cut up some fresh ginger and apple to add to the bath. Lie back with a couple of cucumber slices on your eyes and have a good soak.
Treatments will depend on the products you have to hand, but the most important thing is to savour time.
Explore the surrounding (virtual) area
Should you feel the need to venture outside, don’t let lockdown restrictions become a hindrance; while physical travel is off the cards, minds can wander as freely as they like.
Take a virtual tour through Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands using a Google Earth map (google.com/maps/about/behind-the-scenes/streetview/treks/galapagos-islands), scaling volcanoes, swimming with sealions and hanging out with giant tortoises. Or explore some of America’s top national parks, such as Kenai Fjords in Alaska or Bryce Canyon in Utah (artsandculture.withgoogle.com/en-us/national-parks-service/parks).
Planning a staycation? What style tweaks are you making?
– With PA
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