A blind woman claims she was kicked out of a Premier Inn at night because of her guide dog when staff allegedly told her she “didn’t look blind”.
Angharad Paget-Jones, 29, was staying at the Enfield Premier Inn on Saturday night with her partner when she says she checked in with her golden retriever Tudor without any problems.
While Angharad was asleep later that evening, her partner then took Tudor out for his evening walk but Angharad claims staff at the hotel refused to let them back in.
The data analyst says staff then followed her partner and Tudor back upstairs before “barging into the room” and demanding proof the dog was a guide dog.
Despite the frightened pair showing Tudor’s lead, harness and an Assistant Dogs UK identification book, Angharad claims she was told she didn’t look blind and accused of buying the document online.
Angharad has now revealed she is taking legal action against the hotel giant – as she has been left scared of staying in hotels and “ashamed” of her disability.
Premier Inn claims they have now launched an “urgent investigation” after being “shocked and appalled” by Angharad’s claims.
Angharad, from Port Talbot, Wales, said: “This one really shook me up. I feel so fragile and it made me aware of just how vulnerable I am.
“It’s made me feel ashamed of my disability for the first time. Like I don’t matter. I’m scared of hotel stays now and I travel a lot.
“Tudor is quite a large golden retriever. You can’t miss him. He wears a hi-vis fluorescent guide dog harness.
“My partner took the dog out for about 9.30pm. Tudor had the lead on which has a flash with ‘guide dogs’ on it. He wears a tag on his collar that says guide dog.
“Legally you don’t have to prove anything but that is all the proof you need.
“He was stopped on his way back saying no dogs. He was asked for proof. He explained he’s a guide dog, showed the lead.
“My partner said we’d bring the ID book in the morning [because I was asleep] but they wouldn’t drop it.
“The staff followed him to the lift and wouldn’t let him close the door. He came back to the room eventually.
“I was still asleep and heard him come in so I started to wake up. He said ‘oh, it must be them’. He briefly explained what happened.
“I answered the door and at no point did they identify who they were.
“It was 10pm, in the middle of the night and there were people demanding things from me.
“I’d taken medication so I was quite sleepy. I was really confused.”
Distressed Angharad then asked for a manager and closed the door but she claims staff then accused her of being aggressive.
She claims security staff then entered her room using a master key and demanded she leave the hotel.
Angharad said: “I was in a state of undress in a t-shirt and underwear. They said I was aggressive and slammed the door in their face but you can’t slam a fire door.
“I showed them my ID book but they said it wasn’t real and anyone could buy it on the internet and was probably fake.
“I was really confused and scared. People were barging into my room and I couldn’t see.
“I’ve never had such a big access refusal before.
“Security came and made me get dressed in front of them. It was really humiliating.
“I was terrified because at no point did they give me any identification or tell me who they were.
“They then claimed I didn’t look blind and it was obviously a fake bought online.”
The pair were then thrown out of the hotel leaving them shaken and Angharad claims she is now taking legal action.
Angharad said: “I was discriminated against, bullied and had my privacy stripped from me. I will be taking legal action.”
After being approached for comment, Premier Inn claimed all team members received disability awareness training to make sure guests get a ‘warm welcome’.
A spokesperson for Premier Inn said: “At Premier Inn we take the needs and equal treatment of all our guests extremely seriously and all team members receive disability awareness training to make sure our guests all get the same warm welcome and enjoy a great stay.
“We were shocked and appalled to see the upsetting Twitter thread alleging that a guest was asked to leave one of our hotels in Enfield.
“An urgent investigation is already underway with that site to find out exactly what’s happened and we’ve reached out to the Twitter user to fully understand the circumstances of what has taken place and apologise for the upset caused.
“Whilst we cannot comment on the outcome of specific investigations, we take a zero tolerance policy towards discrimination.”
Guides Dog charity claimed they were ‘deeply concerned’ by Angharad’s experience and stated access refusal were ‘almost always illegal’.
Head of Policy, Public Affairs and Campaigns at Guide Dogs, Blanche Shackleton, said: “Guide dog owners deserve to be able to live their lives the way they want and feel confident, independent, and supported in the world.
“The law is clear and yet guide dog owners continue to experience access refusals which are almost always illegal.
“We are deeply concerned to hear Angharad’s account of her experience. Not only does this incident sound frightening in the moment, it also left her experiencing a panic attack later that evening.
“Our recent research shows that shockingly 81 percent of guide dog owners have been refused access to a business or service at some point, and around half of respondents said they changed or restricted their plans because they were concerned they would be refused access because of their guide dog.
“We have been campaigning to end access refusals for several years but many guide dog owners still frequently encounter illegal refusals.
“The law needs to be stronger so we’re calling on the Government to end access refusals and ensure that, unless there is a valid legal reason that guide dog owners are welcome with open doors when they use businesses, shops and taxis.”