Thursday, September 04, 2008

A hotel in Woking refusing a soldier a room

The media, especially the BBC, are reporting about a soldier who was refused accommodation by a hotel in Woking on producing his military ID.

Under the avalanche of negative publicity, the hotel are keeping quiet.

On first pass this story is made to sound like discrimination against a soldier due to the Afghan and Iraq wars. A Labour MP is wheeled out to sound all concerned, though to give him his due he does acknowledge that their may be other reasons for this. All this a day after David Cameron announces a very popular policy with our armed forces that a future Conservative government won't cheat them out of their leave like Labour do by counting the leave as starting when they get back to the UK, not when they leave operations.

Now some background:

The hotel in question is in the middle of Woking, over a night club and on the main drinking street. Woking is a few short train stops from Aldershot - home of the British Army. It also has the Deep Cut training barracks a short bus ride away.

I've seen Military police in town before and I would be surprised if there is a no-military ban due to civil order rather than political reasons.

It is not uncommon for pubs etc near some military establishments, especially training ones, to be out of bounds. A hotel over a night club might well fit in that category.

The soldier concerned was treated badly, possibly it was discrimination, but most likely he fell foul of the local arrangements unknown to him that realistically allow the military and town to live side by side. A little basic research might tell the BBC this, but then its not the pro-Labour loves the military (even when they won't provide them with equipment or meet their coffins at the airport Mr Brown) story they are looking for.

He is still owed an apology and perhaps the town should invite him back to make amends, and the hotel concerned needs to make its policy clear and advertise its reasons. But I suspect its the Labour/BBC spin machine at work here ...

Update: A description of the hotel from this web site...

Property Description

The hotel provides 26 rooms and is affiliated with Quake Nightclub, Chameleon Late Bar and The Big Apple Family Entertainment Centre (includes Ten Pin Bowling, Laser Quest, Games Arcade areas, and a Pool area). The hotel is in a perfect location to offer you the chance to sample the vibrant nightlife on offer at the weekend with the option of a good night's rest and a safer journey in the morning. Hotel guests are provided with unlimited complimentary hot and cold drinks, which are available from reception. Guests staying at the Metro Hotel are offered complimentary entry tickets to Chameleon Late Bar, a very popular Woking late night venue, and Quake, a BEDA nominated 1000 capacity after-bar nightclub. The Metro also offers its guests discounted rates for Ten Pin Bowling, Laser Quest and Pool at The Big Apple, ensuring there is always something to do during your stay at the Metro Hotel Woking.

So why say any of this ?
Well I think Surrey, and Woking have been slighted by this story.

Update: CaptainJane reports over at that:
    The hotel has since “sincerely apologised for that mistake." The Metro has been the target for abusive phone calls since the incident and have now involved the police.


MH Media Online said...

Hmmm.. quite a fanciful hotel description there: I moved to Woking and had the misfortune to stay at that dreadful establishment for a night a while back. When I was there it was overpriced and shabby: no way would I let my family stay there. Yes, it's adjacent to a nightclub (pretentious teeny-bar), and is on a street notorious for underage drinking establishments. On Friday and Saturday nights the police vans line the streets and wait to scrape up the hordes of roaming, noisy and abusive drunks off the streets. I'm not exaggerating.

Yes, Aldershot is literally a few stops away by train, but why should me move on? As I understand it he'd already checked in earlier, and wass then refused entry upon returning later that evening after showing military ID to reception staff. If this is not the case then Metro should issue a statement, but they didn't. And to suggest trying to get a bus to Deepcut from Woking at 10pm?

Sadly it's a shocking indictment of the "regard" that our military are held in and I as a Woking resident I'm deeply ashamed. Maybe Metro will have the decency to issue a statement but I'm not holding my breath.

Man in a Shed said...

It appears the hotel has issued some form of apology and clearly they are in the wrong since they did not clearly advertise or justify their policy in advance.

My point is this isn't necessarily the anti-war in Iraq / Afghanistan reaction that the media are assuming. The BBC put special emphasis on the word Surrey on their reports - the under lying context being its those stuck up snobs again. As I suggested in the post there are also political reasons why this story is beneficial to Labour.

My guess is a receptionist just followed a policy without any initiative or thinking about what is was meant to achieve.

What's needed now is for all such establishments to review their polices and practices to avoid this happening again.