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Thistle apologise to gay couple forced to take twin room at London hotel

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  1. I have sometimes not been able to book a double room (with an opposite-sex partner) but assumed that this was due to over-subscription of double rooms.
    So was what happened here a mix-up followed by a homophobic comment from a staff member, or an actual refusal to give the couple a double room (when one was actually available)? it’s not quite clear.
    It’s good that Thistle hotels are treating this with due seriousness and investigating. Maybe public service organisations should start training staff in basic courtesy and not being homophobic, racist, or sexist. Or test at interview to ensure staff are not prejudiced.

    1. ooh weird, i did not put the link my comment to the hotel chain, the commenting software did that automatically. DO NOT LIKE.

      1. DCBrighton 25 Feb 2013, 1:15pm

        The links not showing. You may have adware on your pc.

  2. The hotel is claiming that the online booking system didn’t work properly and so their pre-booked double room wasn’t booked afterall. Also, it claims that the men were only upset in the way the receptionist conveyed to them that a double room was unavailable.

    A hotel receptionist repeatedly asking the men if they were sure they didn’t want separate beds, suggests that a double room was available but the receptionist just didn’t want the men to sleep together! Obviously homophobia at work.

    If the receptionist is unable to tolerate the idea of two men sleeping in the same bed then he/she should be removed from reception duties until re-trained, or sacked if unable to accept what the job requires of him/her.

    The receptionist has broken the law. Most employees of any establishment would be sacked for law breaking.

    1. GulliverUK 25 Feb 2013, 2:11pm

      This is the very point I was going to make – there clearly was a double-room available because they had confirmation, and the receptionist kept asking them if they really wanted one – you don’t do that if there isn’t one. To then go through all that and say …. well, there’s none available so tuff. It shows Thistle to be bigger liars than before – now they’ve dug a gigantic hole for themselves. This story has legs. I say report it to the police and let them investigate – and then we can get to the bottom of the mysterious booking software which doesn’t work when you’re gay.

      1. Exactly, “computer says no” (only if you’re gay). If a double room was not available, then why repeatedly ask the couple “are you sure you don’t want single beds”? Asking them that obviously means that there was a double room available, otherwise there would have been no point in asking them if they were ‘sure’. It’s so transparent. Hopefully the couple will report it to the police otherwise Thistle will get away with its attempted cover-up and the same thing could happen again. It’s important to prosecute in order for service providers to realise they can no longer get away with this.

  3. This story doesn’t add up. If there really was a problem with the online booking system, then why they were treated so poorly? Instead of recieving an apology the receptionist made them feel like they were at fault. I don’t know but this story sounds to me like a cover-up by Thistle, they don’t want to admit that their receptionist treated Mr Hurley and his partner in a homophobic manner.

  4. Peter & Michael 25 Feb 2013, 11:58am

    Whenever we book a double bedded room in a hotel, we are always regarded as ‘Mr & Mrs’, and this is in National chain hotels in UK, is this lawful in regard to the Equality law? The room is always booked in one name although we have the same surname.

    1. The Equality Act 2010 states that it’s illegal to refuse to provide goods and services based upon a person’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

      The Hotel chain is claiming that the computer system didn’t work properly when Mr Hurley and Mr Maclean tried to pre-book a double room. Describing events when they arrived at the hotel (as per BBC report) Mr Hurley said: “When we got there, we tried to check in, and the receptionist looked at us and said ‘are you sure you want a double room or do you want single beds?'”

      “He had obviously seen it was two guys. We said ‘we’ve booked a double and we’d quite like one’.

      “He then looked at us and said ‘are you sure you don’t want single beds?’

      “He insisted on repeating that question,” Mr Hurley said. “I felt it was a way of him imposing his own stamp on the situation”.

      “He said we’ll have to put you in a family room, with single beds”.

      It sounds like homophobia and therefore unlawful under the Equality Act.

    2. I suppose it’s unusual that both of an unmarried couple have the same surname but, all the same, you’d think their booking system could cope with something so basic.

  5. uh-huh, problem with the booking system? If that were the case the hotel could have just said so – but the receptionist didn’t. I don’t buy it

    And if I were them, I wouldn’t want a free room with that hotel or any of its chains either – I’d not stay in them again, and won’t

  6. Robert in S. Kensington 25 Feb 2013, 12:33pm

    I bet the receptionist is a ‘christian’!

    1. or muslim, orthodox jew, hindu or…….

  7. Technical failure in the online booking system, it didn’t work properly!… I wonder if there is an online confirmation of the booking to contradict that.?

    That’s one explanation, now explain the human error which resulted in the bad PR for Thistle!

  8. We’ve had so many problems with hotels & bed and breakfasts on our travels. Sometimes we know that the place we are in is so homophobic that we don’t even ask for a double room – we just pretend we’re ‘mates’. Pathetic really, but that’s the homophobic world we live in. The worst place for hotels/B+B’s we’ve ever been to in the UK is Cornwall. It was like being in the wicker man. Scary.

    1. You have a relaxed attitude Mark. We’re stubborn! We’d have called the police out at any of those places you’d been to. We would have been furious!! LOL.

  9. Bill Cameron 25 Feb 2013, 1:24pm

    Sounds like a damage-limitation exercise by Thistle as some aspects of the story as reported here just don’t add up.

    Incidentally I have stayed several times in the past few years at various hotels in Spain (part of the large French-owned Accor group) and have never had a problem when checking-in with my male partner – we have always been given a room with a double-bed (we booked on-line in all cases).

    On a completely unrelated matter I always, when travelling with my dog (now deceased), stayed in hotels from the Accor chain (in the UK, France and Spain) because they welcome pets, unlike many UK hotels (chains and independents); in France you can even take a well-behaved dog into the dining-room, however, not in Spain or the UK.

    I think the French (and for that matter the Spanish) have a much more grown-up attitude in many areas of life.

  10. I had this happen at a privately owned hotel , where the creep on reception kept imposing his view on us, i reminded him assertively of the legal implications of breaching the contract and of police intervention, he reluctantly backtracked and gave us the double room, i complained him later anyhow. I agree with an earlier comment about hotel chains , any business, having a test at interview to access the suitability of a candidate to work with the diversity of the general public and not employ a law breaker.

  11. If its a problem with an online system or 3rd party system, it can be easily checked, there are such things as transaction logs.
    Having stayed at this particular hotel myself with my partner a few years ago, we never had a problem getting a double room but the hotel is not one I would visit again. They should have checked tripadvisor first before booking.

    1. Perhaps the same receptionist wasn’t working with them when you booked a few years ago.

    2. Yes, of course. We should have to check to see if the business we are paying will treat us like human beings before daring to venture out of the house!

  12. As just a flavour of the Thistle ethos, if you go to their website there are wedding packages but no mention of civil partnerships and not one photograph of anyone (that I could find) who was not white.

  13. Thistle has not yet completely explained itself. For one thing, were there not any double, queen or king sized beds in any larger rooms or suites? Was it truly not possible for Thistle to simply upgrade them so their chosen sleeping arrangements could be accommodated?

  14. fauxtronic 25 Feb 2013, 3:15pm

    I don’t know if any of you have been watching this unfold on Twitter, but Thistle’s attempt at an apology was absolutely pathetic. It was a classic “non-apology apology” (Google the term if you’re not familiar) in that they apologised not for what they did, but how the couple “felt”. They could have handled this so well and ended up coming across as a customer friendly company, but it became very clear they were more concerned about liability than internal homophobia. As such, they deserve all the bad publicity they get.

    1. Oh yes, I see what you mean fauxtronic – the hotel is trying to show that the couple’s feelings is the issue, not its law breaking. Very cunning and deliberate.

  15. They arrived late, and the room they hoped for was no longer free.

  16. Jim middle tn 25 Feb 2013, 5:02pm

    ah .. is this the dog ate my homework
    blame it on the internet .
    how does the internet know the sex of both parties when you book a room .. never have been ask that question ..
    I always print out any info concerning bookings, reservations, etc and take it with me when booking anything online
    glad to see that Thistle responded
    and I would have taken the room
    just to see what happened the next time

  17. oh i can’t get a double bed with my boyfriend….i must go to the papers and the Media…..

    1. Yes, you should be reporting their homophobia and brining it to the attention of the rest of your community so that we don’t face the same.

      1. many times have me and my partner ended up in twin beds…
        whats all the fuss about….

    2. I did think exactly the same. Not only has this appeared on Granada Reports but now BBC and here, no doubt countless other places too. And of course they’ll have to sue just to ensure they get the message.

      At the end of the day the only people who know what happened are the three people involved. Us speculating is death by media, which is quite unfair for a company that maybe did nothing wrong, and just maybe the couple took what they said the wrong way.

      1. The hotel broke the law (Equality Act) so of course it was wrong.

        1. How do you know? Are you the receptionist?

  18. As someone who works in a hotel I can bet they booked through a very popular online agent who in the very small print points out that a double room does not mean a double bed but in fact leaves it to the hotel to allocate doubles or twins. The poor receptions was probably told to give everyone twin rooms as that was all they had left. As a gay man and felt that I was being singled out I would have spoken to the duty manager every hotel has one not gone to the papers.

  19. I have done this before booked a double room online and then been given a twin room (of 2 single beds) i simply just pushed the beds together and left them like that when i checked out.

  20. Reading these comments left me feeling surprised. My partner and I have travelled all over Europe, including the UK, and we haven’t had any problems at all. Every time, we’ve had a double bed. We once had an incredulous reception at a hotel in Brussels, but that was about it. Mostly we use the Accor group and they are absolutely fine.

  21. Dennis the Menace 25 Feb 2013, 9:32pm

    Down here in Oz 99% of hotels/motels have one double and one single so there is never a problem. Many years ago my partner and I went holidaying with an older female friend and one night in booking into a motel in a rather back water town the woman at the desk was quite curious as to who was sleeping with who. She thought I was the ‘chid’ of the my parner and our friend. I point out my partner and I are the same age and our friend just 12 years older. The receptionist kept insisting that there would be extra charges if we used all the beds. We were very tempted to unmake all five of them just to be awkward.

    1. Sounds to me like the receptionist asking if they’d prefer double beds was an attempt to cover up the fact they’d overbooked, and it backfired. Anyone who’s worked in service or retail knows the importance of distractions and white lies in the name of service recovery and it just so happens that the receptionist misjudged things here.

      The quicker people are to call homophobia on any little thing, the harder it is going to be to put a stop to genuine discrimination. This is embarrassing.

  22. Sounds to me like the receptionist asking if they’d prefer double beds was an attempt to cover up the fact they’d overbooked, and it backfired. Anyone who’s worked in service or retail knows the importance of distractions and white lies in the name of service recovery and it just so happens that the receptionist misjudged things here.

    The quicker people are to call homophobia on any little thing, the harder it is going to be to put a stop to genuine discrimination. This is an embarrassing storm in a teacup.

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