Disabled woman forced to sleep in Travelodge dining area after the room she booked was 'out of order'

22 May 2023, 09:41

Kat Watkins was forced to sleep in the dining area
Kat Watkins was forced to sleep in the dining area. Picture: Disability Wales/Twitter

By Kit Heren

A disabled woman resorted to sleeping in the dining room of a hotel because the accessible room she had booked and paid for was "out of order".

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Kat Watkins, 36, who has brittle bone disease and sleep apnoea, is suffering from severe back pain because she was unable to sleep in the bed she had reserved at a Travelodge in Hounslow.

The company has since apologised to Ms Watkins, who is the development officer for the UN convention on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Ms Watkins said she had carefully planned her trip from her home in south Wales to a performance at the Royal Albert Hotel in Kensington, west London on April 26.

She had booked a twin accessible room in the Hounslow hotel with her personal assistant, who would come with her to the performance.

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But on arrival at the hotel that afternoon she was told that the room was "out of order", she told the Guardian.

Ms Watkins was offered two alternatives: either sleep in a 'family room' in the same hotel, where her wheelchair would not fit in the bathroom - or go to a different Travelodge in Twickenham which had an accessible room available.

She accepted the 'family room' with reluctance, and went off to the concert.

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But coming back to the Travelodge at 12.30am, she was told that the 'family room' was no longer available.

The receptionist tried to find her a taxi to the Travelodge in Twickenham, but was unable.

Ms Watkins said she wouldn't stay at a Travelodge again
Ms Watkins said she wouldn't stay at a Travelodge again. Picture: Handout

Ms Watkins, who uses a ventilator at night, said she ended up sleeping on the sofa.

She said that her "breathing was becoming more and more shallow.

She added: "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."

Ms Osborne said her organisation had often heard about disabled people booking rooms and later finding them unavailable.

She said: "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.

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.”

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