I stayed at a Hilton during the pandemic and saw how much more efficient staying in a hotel is thanks to new pandemic-era safety features

·7 min read
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider
  • I stayed at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District during a recent trip to California and was amazed at how easy it was to avoid interactions during the entire stay.

  • The Hilton app allowed me to check-in, choose my room, and use my phone as a room key.

  • I missed the memo, however, that I'd have to request housekeeping and that it wasn't automatic during the pandemic.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

On a recent trip to California, I stayed at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District. It was the cheapest brand name hotel in town with a nightly rate of around $112 with tax included.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I was landing in San Francisco late in the evening, around midnight for my body's clock since I started the day in New York. To save time, I decided to try Hilton's online check-in via its mobile application while I was in my Lyft from the airport.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

I logged in on the app and quickly found my reservation.

Staying in a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying in a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Online check-in was available, as well as a slew of other options, so I started the process. I'd been offered online check-in at other hotels in the past but it hadn't always worked.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

The app asked what time I was slated to arrive and although it was just after 9 p.m. and I was about 25 minutes away, the only option was for an after 10 p.m. arrival. I selected the option and kept going.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

I was immediately given my room number and even had the option to pick a different one.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

A higher floor is always better for views so I decided to take a look at what was on offer.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

I was then shown a floor map of each floor and the available rooms on each. The room on the highest available floor was a bit far from the elevator so I kept looking.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

The room on the 22nd floor, however, was the second from the elevator.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

I was able to select the room and the change was made seamlessly.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

Once the room was selected, I was brought to the final page where I could confirm the room, which credit card I was using for the stay, and select whether I wanted to use my phone as my room key, a first for me.

Staying in a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying in a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

After I completed the check-in, which took two minutes from when I opened the app, it sent off my information to the hotel to request the digital key.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

This would allow me to skip the front desk altogether, not only saving precious time but also reducing my interactions in the hotel.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

And just like that, I was checked in. The entire process was incredibly easy to navigate.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

It wasn't long at all until the digital key was ready. I still hadn't arrived at the hotel yet.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

My car pulled up to the hotel and was relieved I could go straight up to the room and relax after a long journey.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Before I even got to the main door, there were also multiple signs reminding guests of the mandatory face-covering rules and that they should stay six feet apart from others.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

More signage explained Hilton's new "CleanStay" program and provided a QR code so guests can learn more.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Social distancing placards then lined the floor leading up to the check-in desk, which was fitted with plexiglass partitions. I was glad I could skip all of this.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

More floor placards guided the way to the elevators, complete with its own hand sanitizer dispenser...

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

And more reminders about what Hilton is doing to keep its hotels clean.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I arrived at my room where housekeepers left a protective seal on the door to let me know nobody had entered the room since they did. It's not foolproof and it's no guarantee they actually cleaned the room satisfactorily but it was a nice touch, nonetheless.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I pulled up the digital key on my phone and with one tap, I was in.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

The room was impeccably clean and it was clear the housekeepers did an excellent job.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I had no doubts whatsoever about the room's cleanliness, which eased my mind about staying in a hotel.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Additional measures were even implemented like leaving sanitary wipes and wrapping the television remote in a casing to convey that it had been cleaned.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

A placard on the mirror also outlined the specific areas that had been cleaned.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Even the bathroom was spotless, and I didn't feel any trepidation whatsoever with using it.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The Hilton app also had a remote functionality to control the television, in case I didn't want to touch the remote.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

I was able to turn on the television and select a channel, all from my phone.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

It even showed a guide with what was currently on.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider via Hilton

I woke up the next morning feeling great with no problems with the room whatsoever.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I headed to the elevator and noticed that Hilton had even placed signs with proper elevator etiquette that included only having a maximum of four people at a time, staying six feet apart while in the elevator, and even using the stairs when possible.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Down on the main level, the restaurant was closed and breakfast was mainly grab-and-go. I have elite status with Hilton, which normally comes with a free breakfast, but I was offered the choice of a $10 voucher or 1,000 bonus miles instead.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

And the business center was also closed.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

I got back to my room later in the day and noticed that the seal was still broken, even though it was late in the afternoon and the room should've been cleaned.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

The room hadn't been cleaned and I later learned that I'd need to request it from the front desk.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

But a messy bed didn't bother me as I was leaving the next morning at 4 a.m. for the airport.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

All told, it was a great stay and I felt safe throughout.

Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic
Staying at a Hilton during the pandemic. Thomas Pallini/Insider

Read the original article on Business Insider