Angharad Paget-Jones was staying in a Premier Inn hotel on bonfire night. (Photo: Angharad Paget-Jones/Getty Images)
A blind woman has shared her “terrifying” experience of being forced to leave her Premier Inn hotel room in the night, because staff allegedly accused her of lying about her guide dog.
Angharad Paget-Jones, 29, from Port Talbort in Wales, had checked into Enfield’s Premier Inn branch with no issues. The company’s own website states that it permits registered assistance dogs in rooms and she’s stayed with the chain before.
However, later in the night staff demanded “evidence” that her dog, Tudor, was a working guide dog before accusing her of trying to pass off a “fake”.
“It was Bonfire night and I take medication which can make me feel tired, so once there was a break in the fireworks my boyfriend took Tudor with his guide dog lead on, out for a wee at around 10pm,” Paget-Jones explains.
“The staff on reception then asked him for ‘proof he’s a guide dog.’ My boyfriend said he was a guide dog, and said he was sure that I would be able to provide ID for him and I would be able to get this to them in the morning.”
Paget-Jones says the staff “wouldn’t drop it” and instead came up to the room. They knocked on the door and she answered, “half-asleep” and wearing a t-shirt and underwear.
“No one was telling me what was going on, I asked for a manager to help resolve the situation. I closed the door for my own modesty,” she says. “A male security guard joined the hotel staff and I continued to ask for a manager so I could get dressed, but they continued to tell me to leave the hotel.”
To her shock, one of the men suddenly entered the room.
“The staff used a master key to open the door, barging in demanding proof Tudor was a guide dog, I showed them the yellow book which outlines a guide dog and Tudor’s harness has Guide Dogs branding on, but they said this wasn’t sufficient evidence and told us to leave,” she says.
Then someone claiming to be security come and we were thrown out of the hotel. They then claimed I didn’t look blind and it was obviously fake bought online.
Not once did they tell me they were staff. I only ever asked them for a manger.
ADUK is the only “document” we carry. pic.twitter.com/B2okW1lHK0
— Angharad 🦮🏴🏋🏼♀️ (@AngieBeatDown) November 9, 2022
The couple called the police, but they say they “did nothing” to help and they were “thrown out” of the hotel regardless.
“It was late at night on bonfire night, and I am scared of fireworks, it was terrifying to then be outside in the dark as a blind person in a place I didn’t know,” Paget-Jones says.
She claims staff were yelling at her and that one person said Tudor “looked like a fake guide dog”.
The experience is even more disappointing, considering Paget-Jones recently fronted the Open Doors campaign from the charity Guide Dogs, which aims to bring an end to access refusals.
Angharad Paget-Jones taking part in the Guide Dogs campaign. (Photo: Jeff Moore)
Research from the organisation found 81% 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.
“I felt discriminated against, harassed and though my privacy had been invaded,” Paget-Jones says. “We ended up staying with my partner’s parents, but I ended up having a panic attack that night. Days later I’m still impacted walking down the street thinking about what happened to me.”
HuffPost UK contacted Premier Inn for a statement. The company 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.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.