Hotel slammed over $370 selfie crackdown

·3-min read

A hotel at a tourist hotspot has been criticised for introducing a $370 membership fee to deter people from taking photos for social media.

The owner of the Druidstone Hotel, in Haverfordwest, in the Welsh county of Pembrokeshire, has defended himself after being called "elitist" for introducing the scheme.

The owner of the hotel, Angus Bell, said he was forced to set up a members-only club after tourists flocked to the rooftop bar overlooking St Brides Bay desperate for a photo opportunity.

The Druidstone Hotel has been slammed for its new rule. Source: Getty
The Druidstone Hotel has been slammed for its new rule. Source: Getty

Guests flocking to the hotel after seeing Instagram pictures

"My guests were having to wait 45 minutes at the bar to get a drink and a lot of the local people would avoid us in the summer because we were too busy," he told the BBC.

The rise in domestic holidays due to the Covid-19 pandemic has led to more people visiting the bar from campsites and Airbnbs nearby after seeing pictures on Instagram.

"After years of discussion, we have decided to return to the good old days of The Druidstone Club," the explanation about creating the membership rule, which includes a £200 ($370) fee, on its website reads.

The hotel's decision divided patrons. Source: Getty
The hotel's decision divided patrons. Source: Getty

"It’s about wanting to make sure that we look after the people who are the heart of this place. The Dru Crew."

"They are the friends who come to stay annually for the same dates, same cottages, same rooms; the local friends who support us throughout the year; our staff both past and present; the musicians, actors and artists who have performed and exhibited here over the years. 

"The Dru Crew is the extended family who have recognised something within this place that speaks to them as a home away from home. We have been increasingly anxious over the last years that we are not striking the right balance between our residents and loyal locals versus the passing trade, temporary campsite and holiday cottage visitors. 

"Rolling out Club membership again allows us to give priority to Crew."

Guests fume over change

An angry reviewer on Tripadvisor labeled the charge as "backward".

Another visitor agreed, tweeting: "So disappointing to have such a lovely place turned into an elitist members-only clique where you can only drink if you're staying there or pay £200+ a year."

Another person said they could no longer afford to visit the hotel bar.

"Not sure about the £200 fee, but agree something needs to be done to ensure your locals/regulars can get served and don't desert you, the tourists won't be there in the winter," another wrote.

Mr Bell remained steadfast in his defence of the membership charge, which also has a $750 (£400) option with extras.

"We could have gone down the route of having a second bar, but we don't want to be a pub and I didn't like walking into my garden to find 60 people there that I didn't know," he said.

The hotel did add on its website anyone who couldn’t afford the membership should “talk to Angus and Beth” because they didn’t want to price people out.

Mr Bell’s late parents Rod and Jane Bell also ran a membership scheme before they died and he took over with his partner Beth Wilshaw.

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