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Travelodge force disabled guest to sleep in the dining room

Travelodge in Hounslow

A disabled woman is suffering from severe back pain after being forced to sleep in a Travelodge dining room area after the accessible room she booked was not available. 

Kat Watkins, a UN convention on the rights of disabled people development officer at Disability Wales, has brittle bone disease and sleep apnoea.

The 36-year-old wheelchair user from South Wales booked an accessible room at a Travelodge in Hounslow for a concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall for herself and her PA after she stayed there before and came away with a good experience.

But upon arrival at 3pm the two guests were shocked when they were told their accessible room was “out of order”. When Watkins asked why, she was told it was because the room had not been cleaned.

The hotel gave her two options, either a family room where her wheelchair would not fit in the bathroom, or an accessible room in the Travelodge based in Twickenham.

As the Hounslow hotel was close to an accessible tube and closer to the concert, Watkins begrudgingly took the family room.

After returning from the Royal Albert Hall at 12.30am she was told the family room was no longer available.

The receptionist tried to arrange travel for the pair to go to the Travelodge at Twickenham, but they were unable to pin down an accessible taxi. 

With no other option Watkins and her PA were forced to sleep on two comfortable sofas in the Hounslow Travelodge dining room, where they eventually nodded off at 2.30am.

“I was struggling to breathe. I use a ventilator at night and my breathing was becoming more and more shallow,” Watkins told The Guardian.

“The concert I attended was good but I can’t look back on it with fond memories because the experience I had was so traumatic. I have never experienced anything as horrendous as this before. I don’t even know how to say how bad it was. It was off the scale. I’ve been in agony with my back since that night. I’ve told Travelodge I won’t be using their hotels again.”

Alex Osborne, disability equality officer at Disability Wales, said: “Kat’s experience was particularly bad, however we have many examples from our members, and my colleagues, of very poor service in hotels.”

It’s not the first time Osbourne has heard that disabled guests staying in the Travelodge have experienced problems with their rooms.

Osborne said they hear frequently of disabled people encountering problems with rooms, even though accessible rooms have been pre-booked. “Many still find themselves being put in other non-accessible rooms due to double bookings. This causes a lot of stress to the disabled person, impacting not only their holiday/break but also in many instances causing pain when the disabled person has to stay in a room which is not suitable,” she said.

A Travelodge spokesperson said: “We would like to sincerely apologise to Ms Kat Watkins and her PA for their recent experience with us. On this rare occasion we failed to meet our normal high standard of service. We should have informed Ms Watkins ahead of checking-in that her room was out of order and that we had moved her booking to one of our nearby hotels.

“We are very sorry for the inconvenience of this miscommunication and we have refunded the booking in full and offered an e-voucher for a future stay. We hope that we can welcome back Ms Watkins and reinstate her faith in our brand.”

[ In 2006 BBC’s Watchdog programme revealed have a reputation overbooking rooms leaving guests stranded. ]

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