Disabled woman forced to sleep in dining room of west London Travelodge after room ‘out of order’

·3-min read
Kat Watkins at a Travelodge in Hounslow  (Kat Watkins)
Kat Watkins at a Travelodge in Hounslow (Kat Watkins)

A woman who uses a wheelchair, and a ventilator at night, was forced to sleep on a sofa in the dining room of a west London Travelodge after the accessible rooms were “out of order”.

Kat Watkins, UNCRDP Development Officer at Disability Wales, said she is suffering severe back pain after she and her personal assistant had to sleep on a sofa at a Travelodge in Hounslow after attending a James Bay concert at the Royal Albert Hall on April 26.

Travelodge has “sincerely apologised”.

Ms Watkins told the Standard the experience was “horrendous”.

“My bones can break very easily and they also can bend and deform very easily as well. So I’m really not good on hard services and the sofa was incredibly hard.

“That obviously caused me a lot of leg pain, a lot of back pain.”

Ms Watkins, who has brittle bone disease and sleep apnoea, said she had booked an accessible twin bedded room at the hotel for herself and her PA after a previous good experience.

She had specifically chosen the Travelodge in Hounslow because of its accessible route to the Royal Albert Hall using Underground services.

But when she arrived on the afternoon of April 26 after driving for three hours, her PA was told that the room was “out of order” because it had not been cleaned.

Ms Watkins was offered either a family room where her wheelchair would not fit into the bathroom, or an accessible room in another Travelodge hotel in Twickenham, around three miles away.

The Disability Wales officer chose to be taken to the Twickenham branch via a taxi but after returning from the concert, the receptionist could not find a taxi that would accommodate her wheelchair. She called taxis for around two hours, Ms Watkins said.

Ms Watkins and her PA were then forced to sleep in the dining room at the hotel in Hounslow.

She said the experience has knocked her confidence for booking travel.

“With the pandemic as well, my confidence had become a lot lower and I was just starting to get back into the swing of things,” she said.

“Because of this horrific event I can’t look back on that concert, or seeing my friend after such a long time, with any joy because this has overshadowed it so much.”

 (Kat Watkins)
(Kat Watkins)

She urged Travelodge to have more communication with customers with disabilities.

“It’s just ridiculous that we’re always the last thought and always the last consideration,” Ms Watkins said.

Commenting on Twitter, Disability Action Haringey said it was “totally unacceptable disgraceful behaviour” by Travelodge.

Disability Wales told the Standard that people with disabilities frequently face problems with booking accessible rooms at hotels.

“Going on trips causes a lot of anxiety due to the steps disabled people have to take, before even leaving their homes. 99.9 per cent of disabled people pre-book their rooms by calling to ensure accessible rooms are available.

“Kat’s experience was particularly awful, she was failed by many people that day. Sadly we hear many negative experiences from our members, whether it’s accessible rooms double booked, rooms turning out to be inaccessible or negative attitudes by staff.”

Travelodge told the Standard that Ms Watkins’ experience was an isolated incident.

“We would like to sincerely apologise to Ms Kat Watkins and her PA for their recent experience with us,” Travelodge said in a statement.

“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.”