"I think it was a racist comment and there was no need"
A British-Pakistani family has complained of “racist” treatment in hotel quarantine with little provision for appropriate food during Ramadan.
Mansoona Naeem alleged that the meals were “awful” with virtually no halal options. The meals also did not arrive in time for fasting.
She said that when she complained over the phone, a staff member said “we didn’t expect a lot of Pakistani and Asian people in the hotel”.
Mansoona and her parents, Naeem Choudhry and Fardous Kauser, flew back from Lahore to London on May 1, 2021, heading home to Manchester.
They were initially meant to quarantine at the Crowne Plaza Heathrow but were switched to the Millennium Gloucester in South Kensington as they were boarding.
Mansoona claimed the food was substandard and unsuitable.
Millennium Hotels and Resorts denied the allegations, saying they were “wholly unsubstantiated and false”.
Since her complaint, Mansoona said there have been improvements, which involves meals being brought to guests’ rooms.
However, she remains unhappy with the hotel’s initial response. She said:
“I’m not the kind of person to take things to heart but when I complained to the hotel over the phone a member of staff from the food department said the meals were pre-prepared and ‘we didn’t expect a lot of Pakistani and Asian people to be in the hotel’.
“I wasn’t saying bring me curry, they could have brought chips and beans for all I care.
“I’m born in Britain I eat British food, but I still observe Ramadan.
“I think it was a racist comment and there was no need for it. The point was that the food was not up to standard and it wasn’t been arriving on time.
“It has improved, but only as a result of me raising my voice.”
Mansoona shared a video, showing some of the food her family have been served.
She told Metro: “The food was awful to begin with.
“Breakfast is a veg, bacon or sausage roll with only one halal option and little boxes of cornflakes with milk, apples and oranges which are the same every day, and there are only sandwiches every day for lunch, there’s no variety at all.
“Everything else is not suitable for us, such as ham or bacon.
“No one can survive a seventeen-hour fast on that little morning meal.
“On a couple of occasions the food has turned up too late for suhoor or iftar, including on one when it didn’t arrive until half past ten at night, three hours late, and it was cold and undercooked.
“We’ve been told that we can order food from Uber Eats or Deliveroo but we don’t feel when we are paying three thousand pounds that it should get to that point where we spend another couple of hundred pounds.
“It feels like this is a money-making scheme for the Government.”
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaViews) May 5, 2021
Mansoona alleged that staff initially ignored her complaints.
She said she was also told over the phone by staff that “we have nothing to do with this as the budget we are given by the Government is what we are facilitating you with”.
Mansoona continued: “It feels like the Government is just trying to make money out of us.
“The hotel is congested because it’s in the city with a lot of families and the only place we can go outside is basically a smoking area, there’s no fresh air.
“We’re being charged more than three thousand pounds but we feel like we’re treated like criminals.”
Since then, a friend has been dropping off food to help the family get through hotel quarantine.
A Millennium Hotels and Resorts spokesperson said:
“The Millennium Gloucester Hotel London has recently become aware of certain complaints reported online by a Pakistan news agency website that racist comments were directed by a hotel employee at a British-Pakistani guest quarantining at the hotel.
“No such complaints have been received from the guest in this regard.
“Notwithstanding, the hotel has proactively investigated these allegations and finds them to be wholly unsubstantiated and false.
“All of the allegations regarding this matter are denied by the hotel and the hotel reserves its rights to take any action in response to these allegations that it deems appropriate.”