I stayed at a Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott during the pandemic to see how hotels are handling new coronavirus protocols and procedures here's how they stacked up against each other

Get the Full StoryIn mid-June, after 95 days of self-quarantine in New Jersey and testing negative for COVID-19, Michelle Gross and her husband decided to relocate to North Carolina to continue social distancing.

The couple made the drive with their two dogs and stayed at three hotels along the way: Hyatt's Quirk Hotel Charlottesville, Virginia; The Alexandrian, a Marriot hotel in Alexandria, Virginia; and the Kimpton Arras Hotel in North Carolina, an InterContinental Hotels Group hotel.

After taking notes and photos to document each hotel experience, Gross says that staying at a hotel was very different during the pandemic, but that hotels are working harder than ever to keep guests safe.

In compliance with state and county laws and CDC guidelines, every hotel has their own new set of cleaning protocols and procedures to ensure that guests' health and safety is prioritized.

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It wasn't some profound moment of clarity or any sort of breaking point. When June rolled around and my family road trip from Paris to Provence long since scrapped as a result of the coronavirus pandemic loomed closer on my calendar, the weight of 95 days and counting spent quarantining in a one-bedroom apartment in Jersey City started to take its toll.

While the lavender-fringed fields and long ros -filled lunches would have to wait, with COVID-19 cases perceivably on the decline by mid-June, and cities and states reopening in phases around the country, my husband and I felt the time was right to self-isolate elsewhere and decided to head south by car to North Carolina.

Traveling right now is a highly personal decision and I know full well that it is still a risky proposition at that. I've been reporting on how the travel industry and hotels in particular have been operating in light of COVID-19. According to a recent study by The American Hotel & Lodging Association AHLA , while domestic travel has continued to tick up in recent weeks, hotel booking in smaller markets and towns are also on the rise. Hotels are taking employees and guests safety seriously, developing new cleaning protocols and consulting with leading health experts to mitigate potential exposure and risks at every turn.

Knowing we'd need to break up our journey, this was as good an opportunity as any to do some legwork and see just how hotel brands are living up to their commitment to keeping guests and employees safe. After much deliberation and many conversations of the "should we, or shouldn't we" variety, in the days and weeks leading up to our trip, we plotted our route in an excel spreadsheet so carefully that every pit stop and potential bathroom break were accounted for, along with a tab for local and state laws between here and our final destination.

After testing negative for the COVID-19 virus, my husband and I, along with our two dogs, hit the road. We stayed in three hotels in three small towns: a Hyatt, an InterContinental Hotels Group IHG , and a Marriott. While we still brought plenty of our own supplies including masks, gloves, and enough Lysol wipes to last a lifetime, we learned that every hotel is operating differently and has their own unique set of cleaning practices and procedures.

Here's a look at what our experiences at each hotel entailed.The first stop on our road trip was to the recently opened Quirk Hotel Charlottesville in Virginia.

Michelle Gross

The Quirk Hotel Charlottesville is an 80-key boutique that's a part of Hyatt's loyalty program. We'd visited the original Quirk Hotel in Richmond, Virginia a couple years ago and love the brand for its art-centric attention to detail. Quirk Charlottesville, which just opened their doors in March before shutting down two-weeks later as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic, had just reopened in early June so we were among the first guests to stay there. The cost was 239 per night plus a pet fee of 150.

Before arriving at the hotel, I was sent an email from Hyatt Hotels & Resorts with an online check-in invitation.

Michelle Gross

The online check-in invitation allowed me to update all of the information for our stay including my confirmation number, approximate check-in time, hotel address, and phone number.

We arrived at the hotel late Friday afternoon and upon check in were directed by the valet to the self-parking lot across the street.

online check-in invitation

The valet was wearing gloves and a signature Quirk mask which was a thoughtful touch. We we're told valet service would not be available to limit the possibility of contamination, which I appreciated.

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