Couple tell of 'imprisonment' at £3,500 Holiday Inn quarantine hotel

Couple tell of ‘imprisonment’ at £3,500 Holiday Inn quarantine hotel after arriving from South Africa ‘with mould on walls, no central heating and food waste left in corridors’

  • Couple claim inadequate conditions at £3,500 quarantine hotel for 10-day stay 
  • Richard and Emma, from Swansea, travelled home to the UK from South Africa
  • Pair were placed in the Holiday Inn, south Luton in Bedfordshire on 8 December
  • They have shared images of mould on the walls and the broken central heating

A couple forced into hotel quarantine after returning from a red list country have shared pictures of mould on the walls and broken central heating, which is costing them £3,500 for a 10 day stay.   

Richard and Emma had travelled to South Africa on November 22 when the country was placed on the UK’s red list during the second day of their trip, which meant they were required to check into a designated quarantine hotel. 

The couple were placed into a Holiday Inn, south Luton in Bedfordshire on 8 December, costing them £3,500 for a 10 day stay, and were surprised to find their dietary needs were not properly catered for – forcing them to order takeaways.

Richard, from Swansea in Wales, said he feels ‘imprisoned’ because guards sit outside their room 24 hours a day giving them no privacy and food waste is not collected, leaving it stacked up in corridors.  

The couple claimed their dietary needs were not properly catered for, leaving people hungry or having to order food into the hotel, which is left in the corridors (pictured)

Richard said ‘This morning I laughed because my gluten and dairy free meal was a carton of cow’s milk and a croissant (above). We are allowed to order in, so we’ve been doing that as well’

The food appears to be microwavable meals and ‘When we’re done with our food, everyone puts the wasted food outside the room. That photo was taken on the afternoon of day one and you can see how the food bags hadn’t been collected for the past 24 hours

Richard said the couple found mould on the wall of their small room (pictured), which only comes with one portable heater

He said: ‘We ended up travelling [to South Africa] two days before it went back onto the red list. 

‘The government cancelled the flights so we couldn’t get back, so we carried on the trip as normal.

‘We were supposed to be going to a Radisson Blu in London, which is a reasonable hotel, but it was for the wrong date as the airline changed the flight.

‘After five or six hours of phone calls with CTM, we eventually got booked into the hotel we’re in now.

‘There is a sense of imprisonment. There’s people sat outside our door, it’s very difficult to have any sort of privacy. These hotels are not designed for long stays, they are airport hotels. 

‘A lot of people are going through the same problems. Our biggest gripe is with the standard of accommodation you get for the price you pay and the lack of privacy.’

Richard said the couple found mould on the wall of their small room, which only comes with one portable heater.

He said: ‘You can’t pick and choose where to go, but there is a Radisson Blu and there is a Montcalm, which are comfortable hotels. I think normally the rate in this hotel is around £70 a night.

‘I think this room is about 200 square foot including the bathrooms, probably the size of a small flat bedroom. 

Travellers who were on the flight to South Africa are taken to a quarantine hotel for a 10-day stay. Pictured: Passengers travelling to the hotel by coach 

The heating in the hotel did not appear to be functioning and Richard claimed they only had a portable heater in their small room 

‘We can only leave if we are escorted by security, who walk with us around the car park, but at least we can get out. There is mould on the walls and the furniture is decrepit. The heating in the hotel is not functioning and all we’ve got is a portable heater in our room.

‘If you went through an itemised pricing of what we are getting here for the the £3,500 (the standard flat fee for both Emma and Richard) and you compare that to other accommodation in use for quarantine, I don’t think it’s a like for like comparison.’

Richard said he and his wife were struggling to do their jobs in the room, as there was only one small desk between them. He also said when they asked for replacement toilet roll, they were handed a large industrial style roll which was wet and dirty.

He said although he is pleased they can leave the room for fresh air, they are escorted by a security guard and pass numerous other security staff on the way out which reminds them of the lack of privacy in the establishment.

‘When we go for a walk, we probably pass 10 to 15 security guards between getting from our room to going outside,’ he said.

Richard claimed travellers can leave the room for fresh air, but they are escorted by a security guard and pass numerous other security staff on the way out

Richard added ‘I think this room is about 200 square foot including the bathrooms, probably the size of a small flat bedroom’

‘We’re in a room at the end of the corridor and there’s a group of five to six rooms and there’s a security guard sat on a chair there for 24 hours a day. I can hear him on his phone, I can hear him if he coughs, so he will be able to hear everything in our room.’

Richard said the staff ‘try their best’ with providing ‘functional’ food for the guests, however that dietary requirements and not properly catered for. 

On one occasion, he said food waste stayed outside the rooms for around 24 hours.

He said: ‘My wife and I are gluten and dairy intolerant. It causes me migraines and stomach problems. 

‘They’re trying their best, if it’s a set meal and you want it to be gluten free, you just take anything off the meal that has gluten in it. 

‘This morning I laughed because my gluten and dairy free meal was a carton of cow’s milk and a croissant. We are allowed to order in, so we’ve been doing that as well.

‘When we’re done with our food, everyone puts the wasted food outside the room. That photo was taken on the afternoon of day one and you can see how the food bags hadn’t been collected for the past 24 hours.’

What’s more is that Richard and Emma are required to take Covid tests on days two and eight of their stay at the hotel. 

If they test positive on day it, it means they will have to stay at the hotel over Christmas.

Richard said they felt they had been put more at risk of catching Covid as they were escorted to the hotel, than they would have been if they could have quarantined at home.

He said: ‘The journey to the hotel was on a coach with about 30 people on it. There was no social distancing and the windows were closed. 

Richard claimed when they asked for replacement toilet roll, they were handed a large industrial style roll which was wet and dirty (pictured)

The couple were struggling to do their jobs in the room, as there was only one small desk between them 

‘We had to ask the driver to open the windows, as we were stuck waiting for two hours before we set off, then the journey took half hour, plus further 30 minutes waiting to be checked into the hotel in a chaotic and lack of communicative status. 

‘Had we been allowed to go home [now in London] and self isolate there, we’d have taken a black cab taxi, with shielded glass between driver and us.’

A government spokesperson said: ‘We have taken precautionary and temporary action at the border to help slow down the seeding of the

Omicron variant in the UK from abroad, buying time for our scientists to learn more about it and allowing us to build up our defences by getting more booster jabs in arms.

‘The majority of people who have used the Managed Quarantine Service have been satisfied with the service provided. All complaints are treated seriously and are investigated fully.’

MailOnline has contacted the InterContinental Hotels Group for comment. 

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