Everyone is escaping to the country, but what can we expect from an urban weekend away? Sarah Marshall finds out.

For many, a staycation will be the most appealing option for a summer holiday this year. Fine weather coupled with ease of travel mean cottages and campsites have been snapped up closer to home. Some reports suggest that in the run-up to venues being reopened, a property was being booked every few seconds.

Most of these, however, are countryside retreats. It makes sense. During lockdown, many of us developed a deeper affinity with nature, tuning into birdsong, following the life-cycle of blossoms and generally appreciating the colour green.

There's the safety aspect too; a remote, isolated hideaway is perceived to be the best Covid-dodging option right now.

So, where does that leave city breaks? Iconic spots like Venice and Paris will no doubt attract travellers keen to explore without the typical crowds, but other urban centres are likely to suffer.

In London, it's hoped the reopening of major galleries and museums will draw people. The National Gallery has relaunched with lead show Titian: Love, Desire, Death, originally forced to close after a three day run. Tate Modern and Tate Britain will both invite visitors from July 27. Four days later, the Design Museum in Kensington returns with a brand new exhibition: Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers.

Owned by the Accor group, Novotel London Bridge is one of several properties to reopen in the capital. The hotel management is realistic about the future, anticipating the first wave of guests will be friends and family visiting loved ones, but not wanting to stay under the same roof.

Over time, however, they hope people will come back simply to enjoy the city and its attractions.

Here's what to expect on your next visit...

A new type of meet and greet

Stickers on the floor guide guests on a one-way flow to reception, where staff in masks sit behind Plexiglass screens. Sanitised key cards are placed on the desk in an envelope - to avoid any touching - and people are advised to use lifts one bubble at a time. On departure, contactless payments are preferred.

Behind the scenes

The hotel group has introduced a series of Allsafe protocols in its properties worldwide, including increased safety measures and use of hospital-grade cleaning products, with standards checked by an independent auditor. Most guests won't even notice the changes, but it's comforting to know germs are being blitzed.

Rooms with a different view

Rooms look remarkably similar, although high touch points, such as magazines, cushions and telephones have been removed. Teabags and coffee sachets are kept in a zip lock bag, with any unused items quarantined for 72 hours - avoiding unnecessary waste. In terms of communication, the hotel is encouraging guests to contact reception via WhatsApp.

Bye, bye breakfast buffets

It'll be a disappointment for many, but the days of stacking plates with bacon, eggs and pancakes are long gone. Instead, everyone will receive a take away bag of juices, fruit and pastries.

How about hospitality?

This is where Accor promise there will be very little change. Their ongoing Heartist campaign is based around delivering special moments to guests, and this will continue post-lockdown. Delivering birthday cakes might be a thing of the past, admits general manager Matt Brett, but there are clever alternatives. "We can record birthday greetings and fun messages," he says. "There are lots of ways we can still interact with our guests and make them feel welcome."