Vlogger accuses Dublin hotel owner of 'bullying' after he shares her email asking for free accommodation

Eleanor Rose
Elle Darby in her YouTube post 'i was exposed (SO embarrassing)': Elle Darby

A hotel owner has sparked furious debate by sharing an email from a "social influencer" who asked him for a free stay in return for Instagram posts.

Alongside an anonymised copy of an email from a video blogger, Paul Stenson, owner of Charleville Lodge Hotel and White Moose Cafe in Dublin, posted a scathing riposte, saying: "It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity.

"If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you? Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room?"

He added: "Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you're in residence?"

In the email, video blogger Elle Darby, 22, from Bath, told Mr Stenson she had 87,000 YouTube subscribers and 76,000 Instagram followers and proposed a "possible collaboration".

She asked for a free stay over Valentine's Day weekend, writing: "I would love to feature you in my Youtube videos/dedicated Instagram stories/posts to bring traffic to your hotel and recommend others to book up in return for free accommodation."

Although Mr Stenson didn't unveil her identity, she did so herself after he shared her email, posting a video to YouTube with the title "i was exposed (SO embarrassing)".

Miss Darby accused Mr Stenson of bullying

She insisted she was within her rights to ask for a free stay, saying: "I feel disgusting having to say this. As a 22-year-old girl who's running her own business from her home, I don't feel like I did anything wrong."

She added: "These were all 30 years plus people internet bullying a 22-year-old girl who is just trying to run her own business and raise awareness of what appeared to be a stunning Dublin hotel."

Some people backed her up online. One woman addressed Mr Stenson on Facebook: "All you have done is created bad press around yourselves and ultimately lost yourselves business.

"Bloggers are integral to digital marketing and social media promotion, which should be a key tool you are using to promote your business in a positive light."

Another person tweeted to Miss Darby: "[The publication of the email was] absolutely completely uncalled for. May ALL the fantastic collaborations come your way."

However Mr Stenson responded to a slew of criticism with a social media post announcing he was now banning all bloggers from his establishments.

He wrote: "Following the backlash received after asking an unidentified blogger to pay for a hotel room, I have taken the decision to ban all bloggers from our hotel and cafe.

"The sense of entitlement is just too strong in the blogging community and the nastiness, hissy fits and general hate displayed after one of your members was not granted her request for a freebie is giving your whole industry a bad name.

"I never thought we would be inundated with negative reviews for the simple reason that somebody was required to pay for goods received or services rendered.

"The girl in question was never identified in my original post, but she herself went on to create a video explaining how she was 'exposed' with 'malicious intent' for asking for a freebie.

"This kind of victimisation is very prevalent in the blogging industry, and is in keeping with their general modus operandi of wanting everything for nothing.

"If any of you attempt to enter our premises from now on, you will be ejected."

He added: "Perhaps if you went out and got real jobs you’d be able to pay for goods and services like everybody else. Just a thought!"

Although the cafe and hotel received some criticism, others applauded Mr Stenson for taking a stand.

One woman wrote on the White Moose Cafe Facebook page: "Social influencing is not a job, however as someone who spent a long time working in hospitality and dealing with entitled people who believe they deserve anything they want for free, I’m giving you a five stars for standing up to them!"

Another person wrote: "Thank you for standing up against the rising tide of people who mistake social media for real life."