"I've had horrible and disgusting food served"
A man from Luton has criticised the government over his “extortionate” £2,400 quarantine stay at a Birmingham hotel after he was served “rotten fruit and plastic rice”.
Syed Ali spent 10 days with his two young cousins at the Holiday Inn Express, near the NEC and Birmingham Airport, after a trip to see his wife and children in Pakistan.
He claimed he was served “horrible and disgusting food, which impacted his health”.
In a video, Mr Ali revealed the cramped and messy conditions of the room he shared with his two cousins.
In one clip, he pointed out a “rotten banana” and “tasteless” salad.
Mr Ali also said how the “horrible rice feels like it’s plastic”, while a chapati has been “half-cooked”.
Mr Ali said: “The whole experience has made me feel awful and disappointed.
“It was really difficult, but I had no option – We had to quarantine.
“I’ve had horrible and disgusting food served to me, which impacted my health and caused serious health issues.
“We have received the most basic and cheap packed food as a part of our meals.
“We paid £2,400 for this hotel, which is extortion and the government made it compulsory.
“I believe that the whole 10-days is costing them £200 max, the rest is being extorted from us by the government.
“Why are they choosing to extort their own nationals?
“There’s no other country that I know who are asking this much money to isolate, but they’re mostly isolating at home.
“Some can’t even pay this amount and are living abroad forcibly, affected by this money.”
Mr Ali alleged they waited five hours for their lunch to arrive on most days.
He also said they were not allowed out for more than 15 minutes.
Mr Ali told Birmingham Mail: “The staff is really aggressive and do not even answer the phone quick.
“They take hours to answer and then blame us saying that they are busy. What if there’s an emergency?
“I can’t even go out and talk to my GP. Our room hasn’t been cleaned since I’ve been here.
“On the ninth day, we were told they don’t have the dinner we ordered and have also ran out of drinking water.”
“There are many people that do not speak English and are first-timers in the UK. They have been finding it really difficult to keep up.”
Mr Ali also said the hotel told him he could leave on the ninth day after providing a negative Covid-19 test.
He continued: “I confirmed this with them three times over the telephone provided by the hotel.
“However, when my family arrived after three hours of driving and paid a hefty amount for a car and van for us, the hotel staff denied this and said we have to stay for another day before leaving.
“I was heartbroken and the children was near enough to cry.
“They gave us false information and denied they gave this information to us. I had no proof and I felt so bad and disheartened.”
Mr Ali left the hotel after 10 days on July 6, 2021.
A spokesperson for InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), who own and operates the hotel chain, said they were “unable to share any comment as the approach to quarantine and hotel selection is a matter for the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC)”.
A DHSC spokesperson said: “Our top priority has always been protecting the public and our robust border regime is helping minimise the risk of variants coming into the UK.
“While managed quarantine facilities and providers are accommodating the vast majority of people’s requirements, we are making every effort to ensure everyone’s needs are met and we expect hotels to do their utmost to address any concerns raised by their guests.”