WITH many people opting to avoid international travel during the Covid 19 pandemic, there will likely be a big surge in people instead becoming tourists in their own country.

But how will the things we took for granted on weekend breaks, like sleeping in a different bed or eating in a hotel restaurant, work in the current climate?

Those questions were on my mind when I visited Lancaster late in August.

I had been to the city several years before, but this time was different, as it was under the realisation that 2020 was not likely to include any international travel, and mini breaks across the UK were going to be the norm for the near future.

Realising that visiting other town and cities was very different now - there is much less popping into a bar or cafe that catches your eye, and more planning and booking where to go well in advance - we decided that the hotel would likely be a much more important part of the trip than usual.

We stayed at the Lancaster House Hotel - a short drive from the city centre.

The hotel offered breakfast, lunch and evening meals, so from the start we knew we didn’t have to worry about booking a place to eat in an unfamiliar city.

When we arrived at the hotel we could tell it was taking things seriously. Sanitiser dispensers had been installed in the entrance, and there were plenty of signs advising where to wait and reminding you to wear masks in certain area.

After checking in and arriving at our room we found that a paper seal had been placed on the door - assuring us that no-one had been in the room since it was cleaned.

Inside there was a printout explaining how the room had been cleaned and the measures that were being taken to prevent contamination.

One of these measures was that during our two night stay no cleaners or hotel staff would be coming into the room. Although it meant the room was not cleaned daily as you’d have previously expected, it did give peace of mind.

The room itself couldn’t have been better. We stayed in the suite, which included arguably the biggest hotel bed I’ve slept in. It also had a huge bathroom with an equally large bath and plenty of space.

The hotel does have a spa, although we needed to book a slot well in advance, and missed out on using the pool because we were a bit too late to decide when we wanted a swim.

Guests also had to book time slots for meals.

We had breakfast both mornings and meals both evenings, and the service could not be faulted, with the waiting staff providing some of the best service I have experienced in a restaurant.

We had a full Lancashire breakfast both days, and in the evening a pork Wellington one night and Lancashire hotpot the next night. Both dishes were superb, with the deserts arguably even better.

Although there was no getting away from the fact that the whole experience was more clinical that it would have been before Covid changed everything, the meal and a drink did let you forget the troubles of the world for the evening.

Venturing into Lancaster, we first visited Williamson Park - a large public park overlooking the city.

Looming over the park, and over Lancaster itself was the very impressive Ashton Memorial - a domed building that could pass as a church or town hall but is actually a memorial from the days where cities didn’t do things by half.

Although it wasn’t the brightest day, the memorial offered great views of Lancaster and Morecambe Bay. The park was a great place to walk - after months of lockdown being able to walk in a new place seems like a holiday in itself.

In Lancaster we saw a city that, like -places across the country, was moving on under the “new normal.” One way signs on pavements, hand sanitiser in shops and Disneyland esque queues outside some of the more popular stores like Primark are something that has taken getting used to, but is unfortunately essential.

Many of the attractions, such as museums, had yet to re-open during our visit. But we did pay a visit to the impressive Lancaster Castle - the tours are not running, but it is still a stunning site to visit, have a walk around the courtyard and relax at the relatively new cafe at the castle.

We also had a look round Lancaster Priory a beautiful church next to the castle that rivals some of the grandest churches in the UK.

Before we left the city we paid a visit to Lancaster Brewery, based at Lancaster Leisure Park.

I had wanted to buy a few local beers while I was there, and found that it was a place that had really adapted to social distancing. Staff were there to help as soon as you went in, the large site allowed plenty of drinkers to all sit the required distance from each other and there was a large outdoor space serving street food.

The beers I picked up were great too - and helpfully include on the label a suggestion of what food to have the tipple with (Lancaster Red apparently goes well with a hotpot or baked zucchini).

Lancaster was definitely a place I wold like to re-visit again soon, hopefully when a bit more normalcy has returned to daily life.

For more information on Lancaster House Hotel visit https://englishlakes.co.uk/lancaster-house/