Daycations in the UK: Why checking into a hotel for a day is just the ticket if you need a quick pick-me-up

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As a rule, undressing is not the first thing I do after arriving at the hotel.

But moments after entering my room at The Edwardian Manchester, my clothes are swapped for a bikini and I slip into the beige waffle bathrobe hanging in the closet. It’s soft, oversized and cozy, and will do well for the next few hours.

A new travel trend has emerged from the pandemic and I’ve come to see what it’s all about. A decade ago, a French start-up launched the online hotel booking platform Dayuse, allowing customers to make daytime reservations at luxury hotels for a fraction of their overnight cost – a boon for the consumer and an additional source of revenue for the hotel.

Hotel life: Jo enjoys room service at The Edwardian Manchester as part of her ‘daycation’

And while booking a hotel room from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. has long been convenient for layovers and romantic dates, a growing number of us have begun to book this kind of escape as an alternative to real vacation.

So much so that by September 2021 Dayuse.com had exceeded its pre-Covid bookings by 50% as people wanted to play tourist in their own city and avoid the hassle of international travel.

There were many reasons for choosing a micro-stay. Some wanted a break with the children, others did so to experience the joys of room service. While others saw it as a great way to experience a luxury micro-wellness break.

For the price of a day room (that can be up to 75% off), they could use a hotel’s spa facilities with the added benefit of having their own private space for a few precious hours.

About a third of Dayuse’s 7,000 global hotels have a spa, including The Edwardian Manchester. Room 1117 on the 11th floor is mine from 10am to 6pm for £120 (a 50% discount off the nightly rate) and its view of the city skyline distracts me when I put on a fluffy pair of slippers. The Pennines are visible in the distance and they are dusted with snow.

Jo receives a 'salt and oil scrub treatment' designed to polish and exfoliate her skin

Jo receives a ‘salt and oil scrub treatment’ designed to polish and exfoliate her skin

I rush to the basement spa and start the day with a salt and oil scrub treatment. It’s designed to buff and exfoliate, and as masseuse Hannah smothers the gritty oil onto my limbs in quick, swirling motions, I feel myself relax more than I have in weeks.

Mine was a Christmas with little joy – two of my three teenagers caught Covid and we had to cancel our family holiday. Over the next 30 minutes, Hannah not only removes dead skin, but also stress. The end comes too soon.

That doesn’t mean the fun is over. There is a 12 meter swimming pool as well as a hot tub, sauna, steam room and rain showers at different temperatures. As I go back and forth, swimming laps before splashing around in the hot tub and lazing around in the sauna until I’m the color of a tomato, it’s hard to believe that all of this can be enjoyed in what was once the Free Trade Hall, one of Manchester’s most historic buildings.

Jo relaxes in the hot tub.  Describing the facilities, she says:

Jo relaxes in the hot tub. Describing the facilities, she says: ‘There is a 12 meter swimming pool as well as a hot tub, sauna, steam room and rain showers at different temperatures’

Built in 1853, Charles Dickens performed here and it was here that Benjamin Disraeli gave his One Nation speech. It was also a key location for Emmeline Pankhurst and the suffragette movement. Now I walk around in a bikini, thinking about lunch.

The beauty of a day out is that you don’t have to dress up to go to a restaurant. You can put on that bathrobe and head back to base for room service. It is delivered quickly, accompanied by a bottle of champagne and everything is extremely tasty, especially the chicken lollipops – more delicate than the average drumstick – accompanied by cilantro and mint chutney. I end with Eton Mess.

The afternoon is dedicated to enjoying every second. A hot stone massage is followed by green tea in the spa’s relaxation tunnel. And after swimming a few more laps, I fill the bubble bath in the bedroom and luxuriate in the tub, unaware that the countdown is on.

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“The Daycationers are definitely on to something,” Jo decides at the end of her stay.

TRAVEL INFORMATION

A 10am-6pm day at the Edwardian Manchester (dayuse.com) costs from £120. Unlimited use of the spa is included; massages and food extra. A 30-minute ESPA hot stone massage costs £89; a salt and oil scrub costs £65.

I bet Justin Bieber, Ant and Dec, and Usain Bolt (all previous guests) didn’t get to dry and chip until 6 p.m. But as I lather up my skin with REN’s Neroli And Grapefruit Lotion, I hatch a plan to extend my “me time.”

I leave the room and head straight for the hotel’s award-winning fusion restaurant, Peter Street Kitchen.

Footballers (and Derby manager Wayne Rooney) have been spotted enjoying his Japanese dishes with a Mexican twist. These range from edamame to Chilean sea bass to spicy Mayan broccoli. The meal is tangy and light, the perfect end to a “micro-break”.

By the time I get home, I’m ready for the inevitable teenage-filled chaos. I feel like I was gone for a week and yet I only paid for a few hours.

The ‘Daycationers’ are definitely onto something.

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