Family cut holiday short after ‘nightmare’ stay at ‘Fawlty Towers hotel’


A family of four cut their holiday short due to a ‘nightmare’ stay in a hotel they likened to Fawlty Towers.

Daniel Brown, his wife and two children booked at The Grand Burstin Hotel in Folkestone between May 29 and June 4.

The 36-year-old dad said that during the stay at the one-star hotel the family encountered a series of problems, including rude staff, nails on their bedroom floor, obstructed fire exits and lax Covid-19 regulations.

He said: “The whole experience was just nuts – I’ve worked in hospitality, I’ve worked in pubs and run hotels, but this was just a shambles.

“They’re putting people’s lives at risk – whether it be from fire, Covid-19 or other health and safety issues.”

The stay got off to a poor start when the family spent an hour waiting to be checked in, having struggled to find a space in the busy car park.

Once they’d made it to the hotel room, Daniel said he had to stick his fingers through a hole where to door handle should have been.

While he did manage to open the door, he was left with a splinter.

It wasn’t long before the family discovered the room only had one bed and one mug between four of them, as well as a missing kettle, bin, shower curtain, pillow, quilt and TV remote.

Daniel claimed staff had insisted there was a camp-bed in the room for his children and told him the hotel had run out of pillows and quilts.

The floor was littered with screws, nails and flakes of paint, the corridors were full of rubbish, chairs were stacked in front of fire exits and the emergency lights were covered with bin bags, the disgruntled dad said.

Daniel also raised concerns about Covid regulations.

He alleged that customers weren’t wearing masks, there was no regular sanitation of equipment, no social distancing, and no rule of six in place – with parties of more than 20 people gathered together.

“The security guard might as well have been a mannequin, he wasn’t doing anything,” Daniel said.

The family ate in the hotel restaurant, where Daniel said their orders were consistently wrong, the food had a hair in it and the meals were served on wet plates.

He added: “You had to feel for the staff though – there was only four of them trying to cater for the best part of 70 to 80 people.

“They were visibly very stressed.”

Daniel said an employee told him the hotel was running on just 50 per cent of its staff, with the other half apparently still on furlough.

On their penultimate night, they were kept up until 5.30am by another family in the neighbouring room whose four children were running up and down the corridor.

Daniel approached them to ask them to keep the noise down and was met with hostility and they started banging on the bedroom walls.

He was unable to phone reception to complain as there was no phone in the room, no contact details and no Wi-Fi to find a phone number, and he did not feel secure walking past the family next-door.

Daniel made repeated attempts to contact The Grand Burstin during and after his stay.

He was eventually offered a refund for a night the family did not stay and a reduced price for a return visit, but he is not satisfied with this outcome.

He said: “I don’t really care about the money, the money isn’t the problem, the problem is that nobody’s acknowledged these problems at the hotel.

“It’s about the standards.”

After leaving Folkestone, Daniel got in contact with the Folkestone & Hythe District Council Environmental Health team, Trading Standards and the fire service to complain about the issues at the hotel.

Daniel likened the hotel to John Cleese’s comedy Fawlty Towers, adding: “It was just an absolute nightmare – I’ve never known anything like it.”

Britannia Hotels, which runs the Burstin, and Folkestone & Hythe Environmental Health have been approached for comment.

When Which? visited the the Grand Burstin, as part of a separate investigation into hotel hygiene, it found stray hairs and stained towels.

At the time the chain said in a statement: “We are totally committed to providing a safe environment for visitors. We have so far spent around £2 million on COVID-19 precautions, but we accept there is more to do.”