Picture the scene: it’s 8.30am on a Monday morning and your alarm is buzzing. It’s time to wake up and (sigh) begin another WFH week. Except you’re not at home – you’re in a palatial bedroom with a flatscreen TV, minibar and ensuite bathroom. You’re rolling out of 1,000 thread-count sheets, tempted by unfamiliar views from the window and the unmistakable smell of room service. You’re not Working From Home – you’re Working From Hotel.
Welcome to the ‘workation’: an extended holiday that involves equal parts down-time and remote working. As the office fades to a distant memory and 14-day quarantines force travel to become less spontaneous, the trend for taking a longer holiday, and working for some of it, is gaining pace.
The weekend trip has been replaced with breaks that stretch into weeks, even months, with hotels around the world adapting and catering to the change. Can Bordoy Grand Hotel and Garden in Palma, Mallorca, is offering a special monthly rate of €3,500 (£3,159) for guests who stay between one and six months (and you’ll even get a Covid test when you leave). With prices starting at a whopping $23,250 (£17,950) for seven nights in a beach house, The Nautilus in the Maldives has a dedicated ‘Workation Package’, which includes high-speed WiFi, a private PA for the duration of your stay and even a desk right on the sand.
On the more affordable end of the spectrum, Zoku in Amsterdam has specially designed ‘WorkLofts’ available for as little as €65 (£59) a day, where guests can stay for anything from a few days to up to a year, with totally flexible rates. ‘We get it. After spending a few days at home, you might crave a change of scenery,’ Zoku says on its website. ‘We’re offering your ideal home-office away from home – for however long you want.’
It’s understandable that the idea of a year-long relocation appeals to previously desk-bound employees. While the pandemic has brought about plenty of job uncertainty, it’s also opened up opportunities (for those who can afford them). A recent survey by OnePoll found that 51% of UK office workers are considering moving in the event of a second lockdown, looking – perhaps unsurprisingly – to warmer countries, to avoid the dreary prospect of a British winter spent living under restrictions.
But it’s not just foreign travel that’s seeing an uptick. Staycations are booming, with urbanites looking to flee to the country for a bit more space, fresh air and freedom. Some Airbnb hosts are offering discounted monthly stays for anyone looking to rent on a longterm basis and hotels around the UK are booked up for months.
Even in the capital, hotels are getting in on the act: The Stafford Hotel in St James’s offers a ‘Remote Working’ package in its suites, with rates starting from £395 including a two course lunch. The London EDITION in Soho, which is currently showing November rooms for under £300, provides laptops, mobiles and fax machines on demand, as well as an executive butler service and 24-hour multilingual secretarial staff. And at the Dorchester, you’ll get access to a private suite for the day, a £100 voucher to use on food or the spa, plus the exceedingly helpful concierge. Not bad if you can stump up the cool sum of £1,275.
There’s no doubt the ‘new WFH’ is reserved for those with deep pockets, but coronavirus has made digital nomads of us all. Anyone who has set up their laptop in a local coffee shop for a day knows that switching things up can make all the difference to productivity.
No wonder those who can afford it are taking themselves to Amsterdam, holing up in Mallorca and jetting off to the Maldives. Get ready: Zoom backgrounds are about to become seriously envy-inducing.