Kate Simon: We shouldn't have to put up with bed, breakfast, and bigotry

Prejudice never takes a holiday, it seems. For it raised its ugly head again last week when a gay couple were turned away from a guesthouse in Berkshire.

The couple, Michael Black and John Morgan, from Cambridgeshire, say they were prevented from taking up their booking at The Swiss B&B in Cookham by owner Susanne Wilkinson, who would not allow them to share a double room. She complained to reporters that she didn't see why she should go against her convictions, especially as her establishment is a private house and not a hotel.

A law change three years ago was meant to ensure that lesbian and gay couples could not be treated in this way, making it illegal for businesses to turn away gay customers or discriminate against them when providing goods or services. Private house or not, Ms Wilkinson and her husband charge guests to stay in their home and are therefore subject to this law.

The gay equality charity Stonewall worked closely with travel bodies such as Visit Britain at the time of the law change to get the message out to the tourist industry about the new rules. A spokesperson for the charity said that while homophobic incidents of this kind make the headlines, they don't happen that often.

That's good news, though Ms Wilkinson doesn't seem to be alone in her attitude. Bed and Breakfast Owner (bandbowner.com), an online service for small accommodation providers, surveyed its members on the question of whether they thought that it was acceptable for same-sex couples to share a double-bedded room. It found that 13 per cent of them considered it unacceptable.

So how can gay and lesbian couples be sure they're not going to meet with a frosty welcome when they turn up for a traditional break at a British B&B? Simon Forrester, of Further Afield, believes he offers one solution. He's launched a new website featuring gay-friendly accommodation in response to concerns expressed by gay travellers keen to take a short break in the UK.

"My partner and I have our own self-catering cottage next to our house in Hay-on-Wye. We wanted to promote it to a gay audience as well as mainstream tourists," says Simon, "but we couldn't really find a website we wanted to be on. So we decided to set up furtherafield.com."

Simon has 30 stylish boltholes that welcome gay guests on his books so far, and he hopes to expand the collection, which ranges from B&Bs to small hotels, into Europe this year.

Meanwhile, a gay-friendly welcome awaits across the pond in New York, where plans are in progress for the city's first gay boutique hotel, Out NYC.

Gay news service pinknews.co.uk reports that the $20m (£13.3m) project "will see an existing building in Hell's Kitchen being redeveloped to make a property with 123 guest rooms, a gym, spa, restaurant and cafe".

Even Ms Wilkinson would be welcome here – should she be persuaded to visit – for the hotel is billing itself as "hetero-friendly".

Got a travel issue? Email us at: sunday travel@independent.co.uk

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Personal Trainer / PT - OTE £30,000 Uncapped

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Day In a Page

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there