A gay couple has said they were refused a double room at a London hotel.
Nick Hurley, 22, and Gavin Maclean, 28, from Manchester, had booked a double room online at the Thistle City Barbican hotel in central London for 23 February.
They had planned to go and see two plays in the UK capital’s West End, but were ‘shocked’ when they were faced with homophobic treatment.
Speaking to Gay Star News, Hurley described how they arrived at the hotel, the receptionist looked them up and down, tapped away on his computer, and said ‘Are you sure you don’t want a room with separate beds?’
Hurley said they did not, they wanted the room they booked for, and the receptionist allegedly kept repeating the question.
After five minutes, the hotel worker said there were no more double rooms and they would have to sleep in a family room.
Hurley said: ‘It had been a long day, and we looked at each other, and said: “Should we just go to bed?
‘We didn’t think anything of it, but we were angry and upset.’
Before they went to sleep, Hurley shared their story on Twitter, saying: ‘Homophobic receptionist at @ThistleHotels refused me & my bf our pre-booked double room. Insisted we take a “family room” w/ separate beds.’
The next day, the story went viral and Hurley was the top trending subject for a short while in the UK.
Thistle Hotels released a statement apologizing to the couple, and said they believe there was a problem with the online booking as no more double rooms were available.
In response, Hurley said: ‘That may be the case, and I’m not saying that wasn’t what happened, but it was the way we were treated at the time.
‘It was the way it was phrased. It was “Are you sure you don’t want single beds?”
‘You know when you are in a situation and you pick up on the cues, you just get a negative tone. It just felt like we were second-class citizens.’
He said he was ‘personally touched’ by the thousands of messages of support across the entire world. While there were some homophobic messages, the good far outweighed the bad.
According to Hurley, Thistle Hotels called them three times but it was not until the last call that they apologized.
The company offered the couple a free night in any of their hotels in the UK.
‘I just said to them, we aren’t particularly looking to experience that again,’ Hurley said.
‘I just don’t care about another stay. It shouldn’t be something that happened. In what is supposed to be our country’s capital, a diverse place like London, it shouldn’t happen.’
Gay rights group Stonewall’s chief executive Ben Summerskill said: ‘Subject to the facts being as reported, it’s sad to see that this sort of thing is still happening as it’s been unlawful for five years.
‘A major hotel company must be well aware they can no more turn away a gay couple than a mixed race couple, even though they might not approve of them either.’