A woman who uses a wheelchair and sleeps with a ventilator overnight was made to sleep in a Travelodge dining room on a sofa after finding out that an accessible room that she’d paid for was ‘out of order’.
Kat Watkins, who has sleep apnoea and brittle bone disease, says she was still in pain around four weeks after the ‘incredibly frustrating’ situation happened on 26 April.
Watkins states that the incident has affected her confidence to travel, too.
They were travelling from Wales to see James Bay at the Royal Albert Hall, but found upon their arrival that the accessible room was ‘out of order’.
There weren’t any other rooms available, so the hotel arranged for Watkins to travel to another room at the Twickenham Travelodge after the concert.
However, they couldn’t find a suitable taxi after she came back from the concert at 12.30am, and all the previously ‘out of order’ rooms were taken.
By 2.30am, Watkins was ‘tired and in pain’, meaning the pair had to bed down on two sofas in the dining room of the hotel.
She told The Independent: “I had to drive back to Wales the next day and I needed some rest, plus my breathing was getting more and more shallow because I am a ventilator user
“[Anabela] had to ask for everything, like a glass of water, duvet, pillows and heater, because it was cold as well, it was really quite cold down there.
“That actually got switched off at some point in the night, the heater that was keeping us warm.”
Watkins said that she had a ‘really quite terrible’ night’s sleep, explaining: “The amount of pain that I was in was really quite bad because the sofa was incredibly hard.
“I have osteogenesis imperfecta ... so my bones break quite easily, and I can’t really sit or stay on anything hard because it’s just really bad for my body.”
After weeks, the pain hasn’t totally gone away.
She added: “My hips and my back have not been right since, at all, which is quite annoying because they had got into quite a good place where they weren’t causing me too [many] issues. But that really set them off again.”
It’s now ‘hard to remember’ what happened at the concert, saying that it has been ‘overshadowed’ by what happened.
In a statement, Travelodge said: “We would like to sincerely apologise to Ms Kat Watkins and her PA for their recent experience with us.
“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.”
However, Ms Watkins said that the apology was a ‘slap in the face’ and complained that she’d had no phone calls about what happened, only a ‘very impersonal’ email.
“That’s just really hard because an open dialogue is a nicer way of getting things sorted, and them asking what they can do to make things better or put things in place so it doesn’t happen again,” she said.
On a more general note about accessibility for disabled people, Watkins said: “We’re nearly a fifth of the population, there’s a lot of us, and we need to be included in society and not just an afterthought of society.”Featured Image Credit: Kat Watkins