At the four star Crowne Plaza Hotel overlooking lawns on the outskirts of London, 20-year-old Abdul from the Sudan says he is pleased with his new life here in Britain.
He proclaims proudly: ‘I was given the vaccination yesterday at the hotel to stop me catching Covid. There are 400 migrants living here and we nearly all had it. No one I know refused.’
Tapping his arm to show the site of the injection, he adds in faltering English: ‘It’s important that we don’t catch the virus and get sick.’
Abdul, who slipped into the UK from France seven months ago, seems blissfully unaware that thousands of Britons older than him, or in vulnerable groups, still await the jab – and may not be offered it for several months.
Neither did he seem to realise that he might be accused of using up a precious dose that could protect others – including key workers – higher on the priority list.
Outside the hotel, the Daily Mail talked to ten other migrants from the Sudan and Eritrea who also took part in what they describe as a ‘mass vaccination’ operation on Thursday this week.
The Crowne Plaza, near Heathrow airport, is among scores of hotels across Britain housing migrants who have slipped into the country illegally by lorry from Europe or on a boat from northern France to the south coast. Pictured: Migrants in the grounds of the hotel
Many have been put up at the hotel for weeks – or, like 20-year-old Abdul, even months – as they await their asylum claims to be decided. They say the bedrooms are ‘wonderful’ and the English breakfast ‘very good’. Abdul explained that he and most other migrants at the hotel were given the coronavirus vaccine earlier this week
Among them were two Sudanese friends aged 27 and 35. The younger man said he was delighted to be offered it: ‘The vaccinations were given to us whatever our age.
‘We didn’t have to pay. We were told to queue up for them at the hotel. None of us want to catch the coronavirus.’
He added: ‘This was the first vaccination and I don’t know which company made it. We will have another one nearer the summer time.’
A Government spokesman last night said it was ‘totally unacceptable’ for the healthy young migrants to be receiving the jabs contrary to guidelines, and that the NHS was taking action to ensure it did not happen again.
The Crowne Plaza, near Heathrow airport, is among scores of hotels across Britain housing migrants who have slipped into the country illegally by lorry from Europe or on a boat from northern France to the south coast.
Many have been put up at the hotel for weeks – or, like Abdul, even months – as they await their asylum claims to be decided. They say the bedrooms are ‘wonderful’ and the English breakfast ‘very good’.
The migrants are unaware of the controversy now emerging at Government level over the priority list breach.
The Crown Plaza’s bedrooms include a desk, TV and seating. Comparison sites list rooms starting from around £109 per night for two adults
One 26-year-old Sudanese man explains: ‘I was living rough in Calais until before Christmas when I came to the UK by boat. When I was given this hotel to stay in I was relieved.
‘They serve us too much rice and pasta to eat. It is nearly every meal apart from breakfast. That is the biggest complaint we have.’
How the rooms on offer compare
Quarantine travellers will stay at the Ibis Styles London Heathrow East, 15 minutes from the airport.
The three-star hotel has 125 rooms with wifi and air conditioning.
There is also an onsite restaurant and bar – but this will be off-limits to guests in quarantine, which costs £1,750 per head.
The Art Deco rooms include a bed, desk and TV. Larger ‘interconnecting’ rooms with sofa beds are also available.
Comparison sites list rooms starting from around £60 per night for two adults.
Meanwhile, the four-star Crowne Plaza – where the migrants are staying – is five miles away in Hayes.
It has an on-site gym and indoor swimming pool. The hotel also boasts a brasserie, bar and 21 meeting rooms, the largest with a capacity of 250.
The hotel has wifi and offers ‘dedicated Quiet Zone rooms, where outside noise and distractions are kept to a minimum’.
Bedrooms include a desk, TV and seating. Comparison sites list rooms starting from around £109 per night for two adults.
A 34-year-old Eritrean woman walking from the hotel at 9am on Friday to buy extra groceries from nearby shops said: ‘I had been in Europe for seven years trying to find a way to get to the UK.’
She arrived last September and is grateful for the hospitality offered by the country.
In a hoodie and mask, she said: ‘Yes, the food at the hotel is so-so,’ she gestures. ‘But Britain has welcomed us.’
Until the Crowne Plaza was taken over for migrant accommodation by the Government, it was the popular haunt of business people travelling in and out of London’s premier airport, those enjoying weekend breaks or visiting the capital for holidays.
In peak seasons, rooms were on offer – including suites – for upwards of £100 a night.
Its website boasts local tourist attractions including Windsor Castle, Legoland, Ascot Racecourse and Twickenham’s Rugby Union stadium.
The migrants are living here courtesy of the Government and can leave the hotel when they wish to wander into nearby West Drayton, to visit the food shops open during the lockdown.
But this is a far cry from the less-than-warm welcome awaiting travellers from 33 ‘red list’ countries flying into Heathrow, and four other English airports, from Monday.
They will find themselves in strictly-guarded quarantine hotels at a cost per head of £1,750 – a rate for accommodation, transfers, food and drink set by the Government.
A few miles away from the Crowne Plaza is the lower-grade three star Ibis Styles Heathrow East hotel, where scores of the arrivals will stay for their compulsory ten nights of isolation.
The travellers will be confined to their rooms apart from short breaks outside for exercise or fresh air, watched over by security guards.
They will be given airline-style food left outside their bedroom doors and have to change their own sheets and towels.
Although the Ibis Styles is a modern hotel with a jazzy, bright interior, it is a step down from the migrants’ Crowne Plaza.
In normal times guests would be charged around £60 for a standard room, which would normally work out at £600 for ten nights, the length of the quarantine period.
Recent guests described it as ‘nice and quiet’ although it is on a bustling suburban street, while others said the beds were ‘comfy’.
A few miles away from the Crowne Plaza is the lower-grade three star Ibis Styles Heathrow East hotel, where scores of the arrivals will stay for their compulsory ten nights of isolation. They will find themselves in strictly-guarded quarantine hotels at a cost per head of £1,750 – a rate for accommodation, transfers, food and drink set by the Government
However, one writing on travel website Expedia said the rooms were cold and the provided heater did not work. The writer claims a complaint to reception staff resulted in nothing being done.
The quarantine travellers – just like the migrants – will not be able to choose which hotel they stay in.
But those allocated one of the Ibis Styles’s 125 rooms – likely to be Britons returning to their homes or jobs in the UK – might be envious of what is being offered, free of charge, to newcomers to this country.
Certainly, if they find the airline food trays left at their bedroom doors contain pasta or rice, it will be the least of their worries.
And one thing is also certain: A free Covid-19 vaccination – whatever their age – won’t be on the menu. A source said the number of people at the hotel who received a jab was in fact 320, and 80 of them were eligible to get it as they were in the top four priority groups.
Peter Bone, Tory MP for Wellingborough, said: ‘The Government has been very clear on this – we are vaccinating the priority groups first… My constituents will find it amazing if we are vaccinating asylum seekers before vulnerable people at greatest risk.’
A Government spokesman said: ‘We have closely followed the advice of scientific experts on the independent JCVI [Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation] and our first priority is vaccinating the most vulnerable people in society, along with those who care for them, as this will save the most lives.
The hotel this is a far cry from the less-than-warm welcome awaiting travellers from 33 ‘red list’ countries flying into Heathrow, and four other English airports, from Monday. They will find themselves in strictly-guarded quarantine hotels at a cost per head of £1,750 – a rate for accommodation, transfers, food and drink set by the Government
A few miles away from the Crowne Plaza is the lower-grade three star Ibis Styles Heathrow East hotel, where scores of the arrivals will stay for their compulsory ten nights of isolation
‘It is totally unacceptable for anyone to ignore this guidance and set their own rules, and we know the NHS in London is taking action to ensure it does not happen again.’
It is understood the jabs were administered by local GPs who took the decision to vaccinate all the asylum seekers, not just those in the priority groups.
The decision was not signed off by NHS London or the Home Office.
Sir David Sloman, regional director for the NHS in London, added: ‘The NHS vaccinates in line with JCVI guidance to ensure those most at risk from coronavirus are vaccinated first and – while this was a rare but unacceptable breach of protocols – we are speaking to the GPs who took this decision independently to ensure it does not happen again.’
No10 admits ‘quarantine hotel’ rules are looser than Australia and people only need permission from hotel staff to leave rooms for ‘gulp of fresh air’ or cigarette – while booking site is STILL offline just days before first UK arrivals are due to check in
By James Tapsfield, Political Editor and Martin Robinson, Chief Reporter for MailOnline
No10 has admitted people in ‘hotel quarantine’ will only need permission from staff to go outside and exercise amid fears the scheme is already facing meltdown – with travellers still unable to book rooms just days before it is due to come into force.
The government portal is still not live with less than 72 hours left to go until the first people are due to check in. A message on the website blames a ‘minor technical issue’ and admits it will not be available until ‘later today’.
Despite the chaos Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted this morning that the arrangements for arrivals from ‘red list’ countries will be ‘up and running’ on schedule, although she pointedly stressed it is the responsibility of Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
The confusion came as Downing Street defended the fact that the rules are less strict than in other countries such as Australia, where ‘red list’ guests are not allowed out of their rooms and staff are tested daily to stop the spread of Covid including new strains from abroad.
The Government has been accused of ‘not learning the lessons’ after several hotel outbreaks when workers fell ill, and a flurry of new cases that pushed Melbourne into a five-month lockdown after guests and staff mingled.
By contrast, in the UK those paying £1,750 to quarantine in hotels for 10 days will be allowed to leave their rooms to walk and smoke outside as long as they are accompanied by security – a rule scrapped Down Under after it was blamed for spreading the virus.
Asked if it was up to ‘the discretion of hotel staff’ whether people in quarantine could go outside a spokesman for the PM said: ‘That’s correct, yes. Travellers must quarantine inside their rooms for 10 days. They are allowed outside for exercise with permission from hotel staff, so that is correct.’
Asked if it was ‘unfair’ to put this pressure on hotel staff, he added: ‘the measures that we are putting in place are in line with other countries who are taking this approach.’
Home Office minister Victoria Atkins said it was reasonable to let people to have a ‘gulp of fresh air’ outside during a stay of that length.
There are also concerns about a lack of daily testing for staff after people got ill delivering meals and guarding corridors – and not insisting on high-grade masks with filters in all areas of the hotel. In the UK only a surgical mask is required.
Meanwhile, the huge uncertainty for travellers was underlined with warnings that the ‘red list’ could be expanded with almost no notice if a threat from a variant is identified in another country.
And footage has shown arrivals at the border are already queuing for hours and rowing with frustrated staff.
The government portal is still not live with less than 72 hours left to go until the first people are due to check in. A message on the website blames a ‘minor technical issue’ and admits it will not be available until ‘later today’
The three-star Ibis Styles London Heathrow East hotel will be one of England’s quarantine hotels but there are concerns about the rules not being strict enough
Despite the chaos Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted this morning that the arrangements for arrivals from ‘red list’ countries will be ‘up and running’ on schedule
How UK hotel quarantine compares to Australia
WHO HAS TO QUARANTINE IN A HOTEL?
All arrivals in Australia, except for some from New Zealand.
In England, only those who have recently been in a ‘banned list’ country such as South Africa and the UAE. But Scotland is sending all arrivals from outside the UK and Ireland into hotels.
LENGTH OF QUARANTINE
14 days in Australia, 10 in Britain.
In Victoria, people are tested on day 3 and day 11. In New South Wales, it is day 2 and day 12.
In Britain, people must get a test ‘on or before day 2’ and ‘on or after day 8’.
Neither country allows people to leave early if they test negative.
CAN PEOPLE LEAVE THEIR ROOMS?
In Australia, not unless they have an emergency or a medical reason.
The UK government says hotel staff can give people permission to exercise but that ‘this is not guaranteed’.
Australia has introduced staggered meal times to reduce the chance of guests inadvertently coming into contact when they open their doors.
Britain merely says that room service will follow ‘best practice’, according to a document seen by BBC News.
PROTECTION FOR HOTEL STAFF
Hotel staff in Victoria have to wear medical-grade N95 masks, which are also being considered for guests.
The UK policy only calls for standard surgical masks.
Scientists voiced concerns about the strength of the hotel quarantine arrangements as leaked document obtained by the BBC revealed:
- British quarantine hotel guests will be allowed to leave their rooms and go outside with security – despite it being banned in other countries after mingling was reported and the virus spread;
- Masks worn by UK guests and staff do not have to be at the same FFP2 standard in Australia. Only a standard surgical mask is required;
- Staff won’t be tested every day. In Australia all hotel workers are, even on their days off, and are paid for it;
- In Australia food is now delivered at different times to rooms across from each other after a woman from Singapore is believed to have caught Covid from the Nigerian family opposite when their doors were open at the same time. The UK policy does not say this will be the rule here;
In Australia they have had quarantine in hotels for 12 months, and have learned some ‘harsh lessons’ – but Britain could be about to repeat some of them, experts have said.
Professor Mike Toole, from the Australian Centre for International Health at Burnet Institute in Victoria, told the BBC that allowing people to leave their rooms ‘is a very risky procedure’, as is not using proper masks.
He said: ‘We have had a situation where a hotel guest infected staff when she opened the door and a fog of virus was pushed from the room by positive pressure into the corridor, infecting staff’.
And in another warning for the UK he added: ‘One all hotel staff are employed by the Government so they can’t have second or third jobs and therefore can’t spread it from workplace to workplace’.
From Monday, travellers who have been in a country on the Covid hotspot ‘red list’ in the previous ten days are required to quarantine for 11 nights upon arrival. They must book a hotel ‘package’ online before flying into the UK and face being banned from boarding if they can’t show proof.
They will also face a £4,000 fine if they fail to book a quarantine hotel before travel and extra police are set to patrol airports to help enforce the scheme. Officers will escort arrivals on to coaches so travellers can be taken to the places they are designated to stay.
But yesterday the link to the booking system on the Government website crashed, saying that ‘due to a minor technical issue’ the link would not be available until later in the day.
It has still not gone live today, and the Department of Health did not respond to questions about when it might be working again.
The site had initially said no hotel rooms were available until Wednesday next week – despite the scheme coming into force on Monday.
In a phone-in on LBC radio this morning, Ms Patel conceded there had also been problems with the booking system for tests. From Monday arrivals to the UK from all countries must have pre-booked two Covid tests.
The IBIS welcoming Heathrow arrivals from Monday as part of the government’s travel quarantine programme, MailOnline can reveal. Pictured is one of the twin bedrooms
There was chaos at Heathrow again yesterday as queues of strangers formed with little social distancing because of a lack of staff
Ms Patel urged people to ‘persevere’ with the Government’s testing website after a woman raised fears she will not be able to travel back from the US because of issues.
An LBC radio listener said she is a UK citizen married to a US citizen and is due to return from the States on February 22 but has been unable to book a test.
The Home Secretary responded: ‘I do understand there have been problems with the testing package website, which I think was launched yesterday.
‘I’ve been told it was back up and running this morning so please persevere with this.
‘This is a fresh website clearly.’
Ms Atkins said it is ‘reasonable’ to allow travellers quarantining in hotels a ‘gulp of fresh air’, despite an epidemiologist warning it is ‘risky’.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We have to look at our own measures in our own country.
‘The hotel will of course be adhering to all of the very strict measures that we have in place in relation to social distancing and face masks and so on.
‘So I think allowing someone a gulp of fresh air… apart from anything else, we know that being outside is less likely to transmit than being inside.
‘But I think allowing someone a gulp of fresh air during a 10-day visit in a hotel, with all the very strict measures that we have, I think is reasonable – but of course we will keep these measures under review.’
She added: ‘We are confident that the measures that we have in place, ready to go on Monday, are strong and that they will help to protect our country against any of these new variants that are being found.’
Arrivals at the border described a scene of ‘absolute bedlam’ yesterday as they lingered in queues for more than four hours while stretched officials lost their cool and lamented: ‘We have not got any more staff!’
Days before a tough hotel quarantine regime is enforced, Heathrow Airport was swamped with passengers trying to enter the UK.
Footage shows one border force official telling an impatient passenger it was taking up to 30 minutes to wave through a single person.
Pictures show a line of visibly frustrated arrivals snaking back dozens of rows, while some slump on the floor and take off their masks.
Dylan Carter, 23, whose girlfriend was coming back from Ukraine, told MailOnline: ‘It’s absolute bedlam. They’ve been stuck in queues for four hours. Officers have been shouting at the crowds saying things like ‘you chose to travel’.
He said his girlfriend landed at Terminal 2 at 11am and only eventually passed through security at around 5pm.
Mr Carter blamed the wait on a scramble from passengers to avoid the beefed-up border controls the Government is introducing from Monday.
Police patrols at airports stepped up for start of hotel quarantine scheme
Police patrols will be stepped up at airports and ports as hotel quarantine rules for travellers come into force, the Home Secretary said.
From Monday, UK nationals or residents returning from 33 ‘red list’ countries will be required to spend 10 days in a Government-designated hotel.
Passengers arriving into England face fines of up to £10,000 for failing to quarantine, and those who lie on their passenger locator forms face up to 10 years in jail.
Priti Patel announced more police would be deployed to check the reason for passenger journeys and to help ‘ensure compliance of arrivals from red-list countries who will be part of the mandatory quarantine scheme’.
It comes as she pledged £60 million to police forces in England and Wales to cover the extra costs of enforcing coronavirus pandemic rules.
Forces will be reimbursed for costs they have already incurred as a result of their additional duties and also fund fresh enforcement action planned at airports and ports.
And a video sees an irritated border guard berate one of the impatient arrivals suggests it was due to a shortage of staff.
The footage appears to show the male official fume: ‘We have not got any more staff! We have staff isolating, we have staff off with Covid and we have had two staff die with Covid! So forgive us for not being understanding!’
A separate clip shows his colleague sternly telling an arrival that social distancing was compounding the hold-up.
The official seems to say: ‘It’s taking anything to 30 minutes to deal with one single person. Unfortunately, border force staff are not immune to Covid either so we… have to work in bubbles.
‘If you choose to stand close to someone, that’s up to you, but we have to socially distance. It takes time to do things, so please be patient.’
From Monday arrivals from a ‘red list’ of 33 countries – who will only be allowed to fly into one of five airports – will be expected pay £1,750 to quarantine for 10 full days (11 nights) in designated hotels.
Those who attempt to evade quarantine by providing false information face a fine of up to £10,000, and up to 10 years in prison, while those who do not book a hotel place before arriving in England face a £4,000 fine.
But it was thrown into chaos as its booking website crashed minutes into its launch, while travellers were not allowed to reserve rooms for the first two days.
Searches at Birmingham, Glasgow and Heathrow airports showed they weren’t ‘any applicable hotels’ for passengers to stay in.
The Government is already thought to have contracted 16 hotels to take part in the scheme, with the £50-a-night Thistle near Heathrow believed to be one of them.
The new booking website asks people to state the airport they are landing at, along with the date and the number of people arriving.
It then lists what is included in the £1,750 quarantine package, such as food, drinks, transfers, security costs and two Covid tests.
The website also informs visitors that there is a £650 surcharge for an extra adult in the same room, and a £325 charge for children aged between 5 and 12.
However, minutes after going live, the new website was taken down, with an error message telling visitors developers were carrying out ‘some maintenance’. The website does appear to be working for some visitors.
A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson said the problem was a ‘minor technical issue’ and that the website was ‘currently undergoing maintenance’.
The spokesperson said: ‘Rooms are available from Monday 15 February and travellers will be able to book through the site imminently.’
However Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds slammed the launch blunder and said ministers must ‘act urgently’ to get it back up and running.
‘It is extremely worrying that even the limited hotel quarantine booking system is showing signs of failing from the outset,’ he said.
‘Over a year into this pandemic and 50 days on from the discovery of the South African strain, there are no excuses for yet more Government incompetence in the introduction of hotel quarantine.’
Meanwhile the Government issued more advice on its quarantine hotel scheme. The guidance states that any traveller wishing to leave their room for exercise will only be allowed with special permission from hotel staff or security and is ‘not guaranteed’.
Travellers who don’t book a hotel quarantine place face a £4,000 fine even though the UK website is STILL down
The UK booking website was down on Friday despite the scheme starting on Monday
Travellers arriving in England from 33 ‘red list’ countries who don’t pre-book a space at a quarantine hotel face a £4,000 fine – and will still have to pay the cost of their stay. But the website is still down today.
Arrivals the Covid hotspots will have to pay £1,750 to quarantine for 10 full days (11 nights) in designated hotels from Monday.
The package includes the costs of transport from the port of arrival to the designated hotel, food, accommodation, security, other essential services and testing.
But the government warns those who have not arranged a quarantine package prior to their arrival in England, ‘face a penalty of up to £4,000 and will still have to pay for your quarantine package on arrival’.
The costs for the 11 night stay, including food, drink and transfers, are £1,750 for one adult in one room, with a £650 additional rate for 1 adult (or child over 12) and a £325 rate for a child aged 5–12.
Meanwhile, providing false or deliberately misleading information when filling out your passenger locator form is an offence punishable by imprisonment.
The Government warns that you could be fined up to £10,000, imprisoned for up to 10 years, or both, if you do not provide accurate details about the countries you have visited in the 10 days before you arrived in the UK.
The Government also published a list of five airports in England that travellers from red list countries must fly to under the quarantine rules.
The accepted entry points from red list countries are: Heathrow Airport, Gatwick Airport, London City Airport, Birmingham Airport and Farnborough Airfield.
Notable absences on the list include Manchester Airport – which is the UK’s second busiest airport after Heathrow. Luton and Stansted have also been excluded.
Farnborough Airport – which is included on the approved list – is a private airport catering mostly for business passengers and has around 30,000 movements each year.
It comes Matt Hancock this week unveiled England’s new quarantine programme for Britons arriving home from Covid hotspots abroad.
The measures are aimed at stopping Covid variants discovered in countries such as Sotuh Africa and Brazil taking hold in the UK.
Meanwhile, Heathrow Airport chiefs warned that unless there is a way to revive the travel industry soon, thousands more jobs will be lost.
Bosses at the London airport fear that once the quarantine rules are introduced on Monday only the ‘desperate and wealthy’ will be flying.
Ahead of the new measures being introduced, face mask wearing passengers pushing large trolleys of luggage were seen streaming through the arrivals area at Heathrow.
A large group of people were also seen waiting at the arrivals area waiting for passengers, while there were queues at departures as people checked-in for flights leaving the UK.
The arrivals landed in Heathrow, as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer visited the busy London airport, where he delivered a scathing attack on the Government’s quarantine scheme.
An estimated 10,000 travellers arriving in the UK from ‘higher-risk countries’ every day will avoid hotel quarantine, Labour warns.
‘I don’t think anybody would argue that’s a system that’s going to work,’ Sir Keir said.
The Labour analysis is based on the number of people travelling from countries where the South African or Brazilian coronavirus variants are circulating but which are not on the Government’s red list. This includes locations such as France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands.
Speaking to reports during his visit to the airport, he said: ‘Our concern isn’t their preparations, because they’re getting on with that.
‘Our concern is that we now know that there are variants in countries that aren’t on the red list. So this partial approach by the Government isn’t going to work.
‘We are at this crucial stage now where it’s a race between the vaccine and variants, and the only way through this is to buy time by having a comprehensive system of quarantine in hotels, wherever you come from.’
Days before a tough hotel quarantine regime is enforced, Heathrow Airport was swamped with passengers trying to enter the UK
Welcome to Hotel Quarantine: Inside the $80-a-night Ibis where arrivals into Heathrow from 33 ‘red list’ countries will have to spend ten days in Covid isolation – without leaving their rooms – for $2,600
A three-star Ibis will be among the hotels welcoming Heathrow arrivals as part of the government’s travel quarantine programme, MailOnline can reveal.
The three-star Ibis Styles London Heathrow East hotel opened in December 2019 and features brightly-coloured 1920s ‘Art Deco-inspired’ rooms behind a geometric red brick exterior.
However, travellers won’t be able to enjoy the spacious bar and dining areas as they will be confined to their rooms for the entire 10-day stay, with airline food left at the door.
Guests at the 125-room hotel will have to change their own sheets and towels and be accompanied by security if they want fresh air or a cigarette outside.
Arrivals will have to pay £1,750 per person – a rate set by the government.
The hotel usually charges around £60 for a standard room including breakfast, which would normally work out at £660 for 11 nights – the length of the quarantine stay.
The Ibis, which has 125 rooms and is a 12-minute drive from Terminals 2 and 3 – is expected to be closed to ordinary guests over the length of the scheme.
Today 12 medical bins were seen being assembled outside the hotel to taste waste produced by guests during quarantine.
A second Heathrow hotel, the three-star Thistle, is also expected to be part of the quarantine programme. MailOnline has contacted its owners for comment.
It comes as the Government’s quarantine plan was thrown into chaos after its booking website crashed within minutes into its launch, while travellers were not allowed to reserve rooms for the first two days.
Minutes after going live, the website was taken down, with an error message telling visitors developers were carrying out ‘some maintenance’. The website does appear to be working for some visitors.
A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) spokesperson said the problem was a ‘minor technical issue’ and that the website was ‘currently undergoing maintenance’.
A three-star Ibis will be among the hotels welcoming Heathrow arrivals as part of the government’s travel quarantine programme, MailOnline can reveal. Pictured is one of the twin bedrooms
Today 12 medical bins were seen being assembled outside the hotel to taste waste produced by guests during quarantine
The three-star Ibis Styles London Heathrow East hotel opened in December 2019 and features brightly-coloured 1920s ‘Art Deco-inspired’ interiors behind a geometric red brick
The Ibis Styles London Heathrow East is owned by Accor, a French company that has the motto ‘live limitless’.
It has an average rating of 4.4 on Google, which the search engine ranks as ‘very good’.
Recent guests described it as ‘nice and quiet’, with one saying they ‘felt very safe staying here despite the coronavirus pandemic’.
Others called it ‘beautifully clean’, ‘tidy’ and said the beds were ‘comfy’.
However, one Expedia reviewer was less impressed, writing: ‘The room was cold and the heater did not work.
‘When I mentioned this matter to the reception I was told to wait until the room becomes warm but it never did.’
The rooms are bright and freshly furnished but offer a fairly basic set up, with features mentioned on the hotel’s website including ‘extra pillows, hot drink facilities, irons and ironing boards’.
Neighbouring hotel the Thistle emerged as a candidate for the quarantine programme yesterday.
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’.
Government officials still need to find 28,000 rooms to accommodate them after admitting that no contracts have yet been awarded.
Travellers won’t be able to enjoy the spacious bar and dining areas as they will be confined to their rooms for the entire 10-day stay, with airline food left at the door
The Ibis, which has 125 rooms and is a 12-minute drive from Terminals 2 and 3 – is expected to be closed to ordinary guests over the length of the scheme
The Ibis Styles London Heathrow East is owned by Accor, a French company that has the motto ‘live limitless’. Pictured: The desk area in one of the bedrooms
Recent guests described it as ‘nice and quiet’, with one saying they ‘felt very safe staying here despite the coronavirus pandemic’. Pictured: The bar and lobby area
A photo of one of the bedrooms shows the Art Deco-inspired décor which quarantined guests will enjoy
One Expedia reviewer was less impressed, writing: ‘The room was cold and the heater did not work. ‘When I mentioned this matter to the reception I was told to wait until the room becomes warm but it never did’
Given its location, the nearby Heathrow Crowne Plaza and its 500 rooms might be considered an ideal location, but it has been block-booked by the Home Office until March to house asylum seekers.
The apparent freedom afforded to the migrants at Crowne Plaza 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.
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.
When MailOnline visited yesterday, 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.’
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’