Travellers are expected to have to pay £1,750 to quarantine in a ‘depressing’ three-star Heathrow hotel compared to ‘Fawlty Towers’ when asylum seekers are staying for free in a four-star rival just down the road, MailOnline can reveal today.
From Monday people jetting into the UK from 33 ‘red list’ countries will be taken from arrivals directly to 16 hotels with the Thistle close to Heathrow Terminal 5, where a one night stay costs in the region of £50, believed to be one of them.
All guests will have to pay an individual fee of £1,750 for ten nights where they will have to eat airline-style food left at their door, change their own sheets and towels and be accompanied by security if they want fresh air or a cigarette outside.
GLH Hotels run the Thistle building – MailOnline has contacted them for comment.
However an airline worker, who lives nearby, said: ‘It wouldn’t be my first choice for somewhere to stay, put it that way. I know you don’t get much of a choice where you quarantine but that hotel looks very old now and not very welcoming. It isn’t in the best of state, either, and it’s a little depressing if you ask me.’
One guest staying at the hotel last October gave it a one out of five rating on TripAdvisor and wrote: ‘I stay in hotels for between 150 and 200 nights a year. This is by far the worst hotel I have seen in about 15 years. I refused to stay because the rooms were so shockingly bad, as if they’d tried to recreate the set of Fawlty Towers but without the humour.’
The hotel replied by promising training for staff ‘to ensure that we improve the service and are working hard to improve the standard of the rooms’.
However, Government officials still need to find 28,000 rooms to accommodate them after admitting that no contracts have yet been awarded. Given its location, the Crowne Plaza and its 500 rooms might be considered an ideal location, but it has been block-booked by the Home Office until March.
The apparent freedom afforded to the migrants at the four-star neighbouring hotel contrasts with the draconian measures awaiting passengers who will be placed in quarantine after flying in to Britain. Government-hired security guards are expected to patrol each hotel floor to ensure compliance.
MailOnline understands that the 3-star Thistle Hotel at Heathrow could be among the UK’s quarantine hotels where guests will have to pay £1,750 for ten nights – or more if with their families
Reviews of the Thistle (left, and rodent trap outside right) have compared it to ‘Fawlty Towers’ and it has also been called ‘depressing’
Down the road asylum seekers are staying at the 4-star Crowne Plaza for free, it emerged over the weekend
Spot the difference: Photos from the Crowne Plaza (pictured) where hundreds of asylum seekers checked in appear to show the rooms and beds are larger, with more hardwood furniture including desks
The three-star Thistle appears to have smaller rooms with smaller windows, where quarantine guests will have to pay £1,750 to stay
Hundreds of asylum seekers are being housed at the large hotel near Heathrow as the Government struggles to find suitable accommodation for passengers forced to quarantine after arriving from virus hotspots
The quarantine policy would add an extra £3,000 to the cost of a break abroad for the average family because additional adults must pay £650 each and children between five and 12 will cost £325 each. Under-fives will be free.
How will the new border rules work?
Matt Hancock has announced details of the tougher border measures to MPs.
TEN YEARS IN PRISON
Mr Hancock said that arrivals who lie on their passenger locator forms about visiting ‘hot spot’ countries, in order to avoid hotel quarantine, face up to a decade in prison.
It affects British arrivals from 33 countries deemed high risk of new variants. Nationals of those countries will be refused entry to the UK and most direct flights have already been banned.
The countries include all of South America, large parts of Africa – including South Africa – and the United Arab Emirates.
Arrivals from Red List nations will have to quarantine at a Government-designated hotel for 10 days.
It will cost the travellers £1,750 each, although the Government is paying the upfront cost and will bill them afterwards.
Attempts to break out of the quarantine before the 10 days are up could result in a fine of up to £10,000.
They are not eligible for the five-day ‘test and release’ scheme.
None of the 16 hotels involved in Number 10’s quarantine plan have been named for ‘commercial reasons’.
REPEATED COVID TESTS
Red List arrivals will be required to test negative for coronavirus 72 hours before departure, using a kit that meets UK government standards.
They will be tested again on day two and day eight of quarantine, with costs included in the wider charge of the hotel stay.
NON-RED LIST ARRIVALS
The same requirement for a negative test result 72 hours before departure applies.
Once in the UK, they must isolate for 10 days at home or in private accommodation, with the authorities able to check that they are obeying the rules.
Tests will be required on day two and day eight of isolation, and must be booked through a government portal in advance of travel. The portal will be launched on Thursday.
The costs are not yet known but PCR tests typically cost around £120 a time.
TEST AND RELEASE
The test and release scheme – which allows non-‘red list travellers’ to leave isolation if they test negative after five days is staying in place. Many essential business travellers are likely to take this option.
However, Mr Hancock suggested even though they will not be subject to quarantine after the five-day test, they will still be required to have tests on day two and days eight. That means they could be screened four times in total.
Yet taxpayers are spending a fortune to put up more than 400 immigrants at the four-star Crowne Plaza hotel just two miles from the UK’s biggest airport, it has emerged.
Hundreds of asylum seekers are being housed at a large hotel near Heathrow as the Government struggles to find accommodation for passengers forced to quarantine after arriving from virus hotspots.
Yet taxpayers are spending a fortune to put up more than 400 immigrants at the four-star Crowne Plaza hotel just two miles from the UK’s biggest airport.
Astonishingly, officials have chosen not to move the asylum seekers into two nearby immigration removal centres, where there is space for more than 800 people and which would free up vital rooms for passengers required to self-isolate for ten days.
The Thistle Hotel in Heathrow is said to be one of 16-hotels earmarked by the government to be used as a quarantine centre for passengers flying in from Covid hotspots like Brazil and South Africa.
The grim two storey block with 266-rooms is on the edge of Terminal 5 meaning guests will have to endure the deafening roar of jets coming in to land on the runway just 200-metres away.
When MailOnline visited this morning, the hotel was closed to guests with just two cars parked in the vast car park. But even as the winter sun shone overhead, the building still looked gloomy.
The shabby metallic window frames give it a tired, dated feel, which is exacerbated by some of the exterior work on the building beginning to peel away due to age.
Rodent traps were also scattered around the car park suggesting the hotel grounds have had to be treated for a mouse or rat infestation.
To the right of the hotel, part of an exterior fence is topped with barbed wire and CCTV cameras are positioned everywhere.
Peering into one of the rooms, there does not appear to be much space at all. Two single beds were pushed together to make a double with just a small wardrobe and table.
A member of staff, keeping guard at the property, refused to deny the hotel – where rooms normally start at around £80 a night – was going to be used to quarantine passengers paying up to £1750 for ten days.
He said: ‘I am not going to answer any of your questions. If you need to know anything then you’ll need to contact the management company.’
Quarantine hotels would add an extra £3,000 to the cost of a break abroad for the average family, it emerged last night.
Industry figures said holidaymakers would be taking a huge ‘gamble’ because their destination could be added to the ‘red list’ of countries the rule applies to.
In addition to the individual fee of £1,750 to stay in a hotel, which are located around airports, additional adults must pay £650 each and children between five and 12 will cost £325 each. Under-fives will be free.
This means a family of four, consisting of two adults and two children aged between five and 12, would have to fork out an extra £3,050 to undergo a ten-night hotel quarantine after returning from holiday.
They would have to also shell out hundreds more for the pre-flight tests which are required 72 hours before return travel.
Many popular destinations are not currently on the ‘red list’, such as Spain, Italy and Greece.
But were they to be added in the coming weeks and months, any holidaymakers who have been there within ten days of travelling back to the UK will immediately become subject to hotel quarantine. The variants from Brazil and South Africa have already been detected in Italy and Spain and therefore these countries could be added.
Boris Johnson last month announced plans to force arrivals from 33 ‘red list’ countries to quarantine in hotels, but the scheme has been delayed in part because of problems finding accommodation. Yet some 10,000 migrants are being housed at hotels across the UK, despite official figures showing only 290 of the 2,462 beds at seven purpose-built immigration centres are currently occupied.
All international arrivals into the UK from 30 ‘red list’ countries will be taken by bus to 16 hotels from Monday
‘Can you stop 40m vaccinated Brits going on holiday?’ Travel industry turns on Grant Shapps as he kills off hopes of foreign AND UK breaks this year
Grant Shapps was rebuked by No10 and faced the wrath of the travel industry today as he snuffed out hopes of a summer holiday season, warning people not to book anything at home or abroad.
The Transport Secretary made clear there is no guarantee that breaks will be possible at all this year, saying he did not want to ‘raise people’s hopes’.
Asked in an interview on BBC Breakfast what needs to change for restrictions on overseas travel to be lifted, Mr Shapps replied: ‘First of all, everybody having their vaccinations.’
Pressed on whether the rules will remain in place until that happens, he said ‘yes’.
He stressed that it is currently illegal to go abroad for any non-essential reason – although he did say the government is looking at a ‘vaccines passport’ system that might allow leisure travel to resume when the crisis eases.
The grim comments came despite Boris Johnson previously voicing ‘optimism’ about the summer, and Matt Hancock revealing he has already booked a trip to Cornwall. Tory MPs accused ministers of ‘ripping up the goalposts’ on when lockdown can ease saying the restrictions were ‘almost studied and deliberate cruelty’ against the nation.
At Harmondsworth, two miles from the £100-a-night Crowne Plaza, 527 beds are lying empty. There is space for a further 300 people at Colnbrook, half a mile further on. Alp Mehmet, from the Migration Watch UK think tank, said last night: ‘This is a frankly barmy situation. The Government is struggling to find hotel rooms for travellers to quarantine in, but there are hundreds of migrants and asylum seekers staying in a hotel right next to the airport. You couldn’t make it up.’
An 8ft fence was erected around the perimeter of the Crowne Plaza last summer, yet migrants last week strolled past private security guards contracted by the Home Office – many of them not wearing masks. As further evidence of the apparent indifference to safety, a hand car-wash business is operating in the hotel’s car park in contravention of lockdown rules. There is even a sign advertising the service at the nearby exit of the M4.
Migrants who have often risked their lives to reach Britain are in despair at safety measures.
‘It is not a good system – people are too close together,’ claimed Ilyat Alkaldi, 42, who fled Kuwait and completed the final leg of his journey across the Channel by dinghy from Calais. He has been housed at the hotel since October and claimed migrants roam the corridors and visit each other’s rooms. Djomou Bamou, 32, who was smuggled into the UK in a car, said: ‘We can walk around wherever we want. There are lots of people here.’
Each room has a double bed, an en suite bathroom and flatscreen TV. Staff leave three basic meals outside rooms each day while dining areas and leisure facilities are closed. Housekeepers clean the rooms once a week.
Groups of migrants can be seen chatting on smartphones outside the hotel or strolling to a parade of shops in nearby West Drayton.
Among them was Atif Ali, 21, from Pakistan, who was smuggled into the UK in the back of a lorry after spending two years living in the infamous Jungle camp in Calais. ‘After three months here in this hotel I feel like I am going crazy,’ he said. ‘You just sleep, it’s boring.’
Ministers have been accused of hopelessly inadequate planning, with tender documents sent out to hotel chains only on Thursday night. Rob Paterson, the boss of Best Western, said: ‘In any normal company, if you went out and announced a programme nationally and you hadn’t thought about how you were going to plan that, and you hadn’t spoken to the people involved… I’m not sure I’d have a job if I did that in my company.’
Tory MP Sir John Hayes, a former Transport Minister, said: ‘This is a ridiculous situation. Hotels are not the best place for asylum seekers. They should be in secure accommodation or else we risk them disappearing into the black economy or being exploited.’
The Mail on Sunday has previously revealed how at least 20 hotels across Britain are being used to house migrants who had crossed the Channel as part of a £4 billion, ten-year contract between the Home Office and outsourcing firms.
The Home Office said it is legally obliged to provide accommodation to asylum seekers. A spokesman said: ‘At all of our sites we put in place a range of measures to ensure they are safe and asylum seekers, like everyone else, must follow the coronavirus regulations.’
Taxpayers are spending a fortune to put up more than 400 immigrants at the four-star Crowne Plaza hotel just two miles from the UK’s biggest airport. Astonishingly, officials have chosen not to move the asylum seekers into two nearby immigration removal centres (pictured), where there is space for more than 800 people and which would free up vital rooms for passengers required to self-isolate for ten days
‘She has no right to impose laws on English airports’: Nicola Sturgeon branded ‘ridiculous’ over demand that England quarantines ALL international arrivals heading on to Scotland to comply with her border regime
Nicola Sturgeon was facing fury today after her Government demanded English authorities quarantine all travellers flying into England if they were planning to go to Scotland.
The First Minister was accused of trying to extend Scottish laws south of the border with the demand that would force England to lock people up in hotels for 10 days even if local rules said they did not need to.
Under plans unveiled by Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night, only arrivals from 33 Red List nations would be required to stay locked in a hotel for 10 days in England.
Scotland however, is forcing all international arrivals into its airports to undergo the stay at a cost of £1,750. Scots Transport Secretary Michael Matheson last night confirmed the SNP government in Edinburgh wants Boris Johnson to adhere to Scotland’s policy for travellers heading north of the border via England.
Tory MP Peter Bone said Ms Sturgeon needed to clarify what her government was demanding.
‘If someone arrives in England and then travels to Scotland they have to abide by the Scottish laws but it is wrong for the First Minister of Scotland to try and impose her laws on English airports,’ he told MailOnline.
‘That’s ridiculous and bears no logic. If that is what she means I think the UK Government should firmly reject that idea.
‘She should clarify … and make it clear that quarantine rules will apply once someone goes into Scotland.’
Passengers arriving at UK airports have to fill out a ‘passenger locator form’ in the 48 hours before arriving in Great Britain.
Details required include ‘your travel details, including times and dates … and the address where you will stay in the UK.’
This would theoretically allow authorities to identify travellers going on to Scotland.
Scots Transport Secretary Michael Matheson last night confirmed the SNP government in Edinburgh wants Boris Johnson to adhere to Scotland’s policy for travellers heading north of the border
Under plans unveiled by Health Secretary Matt Hancock last night, only arrivals from 33 Red List nations would be required to stay locked in a hotel for 10 days
Such a move by the PM would effectively partially impose the Scottish policy on England, and it is not clear how it would be enforceable at ports and airports
Addressing the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood yesterday, Mr Matheson said: ‘Passengers entering England from the red-list countries who then seek to travel onto Scotland will have to isolate in a hotel in England. Last week, that was 130 people.
‘We continue to press the UK Government to adopt what we believe is a more comprehensive approach, and require all arrivals to go into a quarantine hotel.
‘We ask the UK Government to work with us to identify international travellers not caught by this approach so that arrangements can be made for them to isolate in a quarantine hotel, in line with the policy in Scotland.’
Mr Matheson told MSPs the UK’s strategy on international travel was ‘no longer sufficient to provide the protection necessary’.
Given the lack of investigation globally into new strains of the virus, Mr Matheson said it was ‘very hard to say with confidence where the high-risk countries are’.
‘That is why the Scottish Government wants a comprehensive approach to managed isolation,’ he added.
Last night Mr Hancock announced people returning to England from Red List destinations would have to pay £1,750 to quarantine for 10 days in Government-designated hotels.
Those caught lying about their movements could be fined £10,000 or jailed for 10 years.
He indicated the quarantine measures might be in place until the autumn if vaccine booster jabs are needed in response to coronavirus variants.
He told MPs that 16 hotels have been contracted to provide 4,600 rooms for the quarantine programme, which begins on Monday.
The Scottish Government said that it would go further and require all international travellers arriving into Scotland to stay in a quarantine hotel.
No international flights are currently operating to Wales or Northern Ireland.
Mr Matheson told MSPs that six hotels have been block-booked in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, with up to 1,300 rooms available.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Times Radio this morning that insisting on the same quarantine rules as Scotland would cut off crucial supply routes for vaccines and other essential goods.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Times Radio this morning that insisting on the same quarantine rules as Scotland would cut off crucial supply routes for vaccines and other essential goods.
‘Scotland is in a slightly different position. A lot of their supply chain comes through England. For example the short straits, that’s Dover to Calais, brings into the UK as a whole 75 percent of our medicines, 40 percent of our food, much of which will go to Scotland,’ he said.
‘If we were to do what Scotland have done we would actually be closing off their supply routes for critical goods. And a certain number of people need to move around to make sure critical infrastructure is kept going.
‘The technical stuff that keeps the water supply and keeps electrics running. Sometimes people need to come and go… We wouldn’t have the vaccines, we wouldn’t have medicine for all sorts of purposes, we wouldn’t have food on the shelves…
‘Some people say why don’t you just close the borders, or even quarantine everybody. That wouldn’t work, we wouldn’t be able to function as a country.There would be massive social costs and economic costs. That’s not practical.’
A Welsh Government spokesman said Wales will be adopting the new border measures announced for England.
The spokesperson said: ‘This will include all people returning to Wales from 15 February being required to book and pay for tests before they travel. This will be done through the UK portal, whether a person has been in a Red List country or not.
‘People returning to Wales from Red List countries are doing so through other ports in the UK, primarily via England. From 15 February, all arrivals in England will be required to isolate in designated hotels.
‘This includes anyone planning to travel on to Wales, and they will need to enter a designated hotel for quarantine in England. This will need to be booked before travel.’