Human Touch

Did you watch daleks from behind the sofa? Did Star Trek make you think, “wow, what if…” Are you checking memes from Back to the Future right now? Remember when you first saw the iPhone screen move? You’re really going to need to draw on your childhood sense of out-of-this-world adventure to get your social kicks in 2020. In this extraordinary year, the longest-term effects may be on hospitality. More philosophically, how we relate to each other and continue to have a human touch without touching.

Team SoHoEx has spent a lot of time thinking about you recently. We’re itching to get back to doing what we love, and we love the buzz of what we do. It’s going to feel a bit out-of-body for us all but we’re here to make your stay as quirky, relaxing and fun as it was in 2019. Here’s how you’ll make a date with SH:

You’ll be calling or messaging us in advance to book anything from a room to a bar stool. We’ve got our distancing plans to hand and we’re going to allocate you and your “social bubble” (more later) a safe space for drinks and meals. We’ll be asking you to confirm your preferred payment method in advance – no cash – and, if you’re coming to stay the night, to call us near arrival so we can time your welcome. We’ll be limited to just one guest, or couple, in reception at a time. Oh, and it’s likely that you, in common with all our staff, will have temperature checks on entry into the building. Over 37.5 is a no, no – and for your own sake you should probably call 111 pronto. We’ll be publishing all our staff temps daily.

Move through to the bar, or any of our public rooms, where you’ll be shown (at a respectful distance) to your allocated table and invited to scan a QR code to access the drinks and food menus. You’ll squidge a little “Exeter Gin” hand sanitizer from the chic dispenser on your table and you’re good to go.  Menu options will include tiffin tins and mini picnic baskets, so you are in control of the dishes in your meal, if you wish. We’re also keeping the classics on tap, of course.

Now, we’re certainly not able or willing to isolate you without company. And we know you’re perfectly able to select the people you want to eat/drink/sleep with. This is the “social bubble” thing that’s coming our way soon. If you book a table for the two of you, or even four, we’ll sort it out so that you can enjoy in any of our public rooms or garden and we’ll block out the surrounding area as required for a couple of hours. For larger groups (maybe as many as ten of you!) our private dining comes into play so you can relax behind closed doors in the Private Dining Room or Green Room. This is the only time we’ll be serving buffets, to cut down your interaction with our staff and allow you to kick-back safely with friends.

Your bedroom awaits. Now, we’re a bit miffed, because you’re going to be missing the luxe extras we’re so proud of. No extra pillows or bed throws, no books or magazines to browse, no mini-trug with snacks and no generous tea, coffee caddies. This is going to get a little clinical for a while; but it’s there for you in individual portions (with a dollop of hand sanitizer on the side). We’d normally show you around the room personally but you’re going to be receiving a little video, personalized for each room, about the facilities. Feel free to share with your voyeuristic friends!

I won’t go into the new cleaning protocols, because we’re here for that and after weeks of lockdown you won’t want to hear it. But I’m hoping that after a couple of months the bizarre will seem routine and, with new habits formed, we can all stop thinking about our hands and get back to thinking about what makes us human.