Skip To Content
  • Coronavirus badge

This Is What It's Like To Stay In A COVID-19 Quarantine Hotel In Australia

Never take fresh air for granted again.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Australia has had some of the world's toughest travel restrictions and quarantine policies in place.

James D. Morgan / Getty Images, travel-exemptions.homeaffairs.gov.au / Via travel-exemptions.homeaffairs.gov.au

The only people currently allowed to enter Australia are citizens, residents, immediate family members, and people who've spent the past 14 days in New Zealand. Travel overseas is banned unless an exception is granted.

While Australian citizens are free to travel home at any time, getting there is no easy task. Securing a flight can be difficult (and expensive), and upon arrival, all international travelers must quarantine for 14 days at their point of entry in a government-chosen facility.

an empty airport in Sydney with the news headline: "Australians stranded overseas say slashing arrival caps makes returning home 'near impossible'"
James D. Morgan / Getty Images / The Guardian / Via theguardian.com

Despite the challenges, many Australians have had to travel home because of things like losing their job overseas, having to care for a sick relative, or dealing with their own medical conditions.

Flights are pricey and often get bumped or canceled as a result of returning-passenger caps (which at one point were halved). But even those who manage to get on a flight are faced with the mandatory two-week quarantine.

Australia's "hotel quarantine" has been running for almost a year now, and while it's had its share of scandals, overall the system has effectively helped curb the spread of the coronavirus across the country.

A man with suitcases is greeted by a man in PPE at a hotel
William West / Getty Images

My boyfriend Stephen recently had to return to Australia, so I got the details from him about what the quarantine process was actually like:

Upon the plane's arrival in the country, the military boarded to brief passengers on the quarantine rules (aka what the next two weeks of their lives would look like).

Sara Medici / Getty Images, Stephen Beerkens

Passengers were then escorted into the airport to collect their bags and had to undergo a brief medical screening.

Travelers then boarded a charter bus and were taken to one of the hotels that the government has deemed a quarantine facility.

a passenger pushes luggage toward a bus
James D. Morgan / Getty Images

People get absolutely no choice of accommodation, so they could end up staying anywhere from a Travelodge to a five-star resort. But the $3,000 AUD quarantine fee charged by the government is the same, regardless of which hotel you get. So it's really the luck of the draw.

Before being escorted to their room by an officer to start "Day 0," travelers are given a list of rules and regulations for their stay. Of utmost importance? Absolutely do not leave your room under any circumstances — not even for fresh air or a walk in the hallway.

Paperwork filled with rules and regulations for Stephen's stay
Stephen Beerkens

Permitted activities include delivery of food and groceries, Wi-Fi usage...and pretty much anything else you can do in a 300-square-foot room. What's not allowed? No smoking, no major cooking appliances, and (obviously) no guests!

Stephen was pleasantly surprised after check-in to find that his confined space wasn't so bad!

Stephen Beerkens

Updated, spacious, and a better-than-expected view.

The only things lacking? Windows that could be opened and access to fresh air.

Stephen longingly puts his hand on the window that can't be opened
Stephen Beerkens

Food was dropped off outside the door at three time slots during the day — 7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m. — and some of the meals were surprisingly alright.

Stephen Beerkens

The hotel was actually extremely accommodating to Stephen's dietary needs (he can't eat red meat or dairy). The Sheraton works with an outside catering company, meaning that the food is made off-site and then delivered to the hotel...so sometimes it shows up a little colder than you'd like.

But sometimes the portions left a bit to be desired:

A breakfast which has two small fruit containers, a juice box and a banana
Stephen Beerkens

The food was certainly an ~interesting adventure~ each day. Sometimes breakfast consisted of two miniature fruit bowls with a side of...more fruit. But overall, the food was decent.

Guests are also allowed to order groceries and Uber Eats — at their own expense.

Stephen Beerkens

Quarantine guests are required to wear a mask and wait 10 seconds before answering the door for deliveries so that staff can disappear as quickly as they arrived.

And though cooking appliances aren't allowed, Stephen learned a new way to make meals in his hotel room (thanks to TikTok):

Stephen Beerkens

While mealtime knocks on the door and deliveries were something to look forward to during the monotonous days, Stephen thankfully had work to keep him busy and enough space to set up a makeshift workstation to make it feel like home:

Stephen's piano and guitar set up at near the window
Stephen Beerkens

The lack of IRL human connection could be tough, but Stephen remedied it with FaceTime calls to friends and family, as well as some online Switch gaming.

Stephen on FaceTime while playing Mario Kart on the Switch
Alex Gurley

As guests near the end of their stay, they're given a wristband with their release day printed on it. Never has a Monday been so exciting!

Stephen shows off his wristband which allows him to leave
Stephen Beerkens

Overall, Stephen was grateful for his positive hotel quarantine experience (and the fact that he was able to make it home at all), because he knows others have had it much worse.

Don't forget to check out Bring Me! for all of BuzzFeed's best travel tips and hacks, vacation inspiration, and more!

Jay Fleckenstein / BuzzFeed