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Great Hallingbury Manor Hotel accused of being underhand for not admitting venue closed to house asylum seekers

Hotel bosses have been accused of being underhand after failing to admit to a woman whose party plans were sent into disarray that it was closed to the public to host asylum seekers.

Great Hallingbury Manor Hotel at Tilekiln Green is believed to be accommodating 50 male asylum seekers and has closed its doors to the public.

The Sun newspaper reported last week that 50 men, aged 20-40 from north Africa, were living on full board at the four-star hotel.

A sign on the door of the hotel apologises for being closed to the public (60474698)
A sign on the door of the hotel apologises for being closed to the public (60474698)

They quoted an unnamed worker who said it had happened "very suddenly" at the end of October 30 and staff were told the "refugees" would be staying for up to two months.

Great Hallingbury Manor is one of 12 owned by Surya Hotels, whose website describes the venue as a "traditional Tudor-style manor with a contemporary interior, set in the beautiful countryside location of Essex and Hertfordshire borders".

It has "43 beautifully designed rooms and suites ranging from classic doubles, modern deluxe rooms to luxury superior rooms, all of which are progressively stylish, immensely comfortable and pristinely maintained".

Great Hallingbury Manor Hotel (60479626)
Great Hallingbury Manor Hotel (60479626)

There is no indication that it is closed but the website does state Great Hallingbury Manor is "currently undergoing refurbishment - please be aware there will be some disruption to normal services whilst we are carrying out refurbishment works". If attempting to book a room, the website is showing no availability.

Claire Mahoney contacted the Indie to complain that five people who booked three rooms at the hotel for her forthcoming 60th birthday celebration received notice of cancellations and when she called to ask why she said staff were rude and put the phone down on her.

Claire, who lives in Bishop's Stortford, said she had tried to book the hotel as a venue for her party in June, but was told the function room was being refurbished. So her family booked rooms and she searched for a new venue.

"They said they had overbooked and when I asked the reason they put the phone down on me," said Claire. "They [the asylum seekers] have got to go somewhere, but it's been handled poorly and underhand."

When the Indie visited the hotel on Friday there was a notice on the door saying: "Please be informed our hotel is closed to the public. Apologies for any inconvenience."

We spoke to one "guest" outside the hotel who said he was originally from Afghanistan and had come to the UK by boat. He said he had been at another centre, but did not know where, and had been at the hotel for three days and it was "very nice" with three meals a day.

The man, who spoke good English, said he hoped to stay in the UK as he felt it was his second home. He had a brother still living in Afghanistan and was keen for him to join him. He added Afghanistan was "very bad" since the Taliban had taken control of the country when the US military pulled out.

Some councils in areas where asylum seekers have been housed have taken legal action against the Government with one, Great Yarmouth Borough Council, citing an "absence of any meaningful dialogue".

A spokesman for Uttlesford District Council referred the Indie to the Home Office after we asked whether the housing of asylum seekers in the district would have any impact on services. Neighbouring East Herts Council said it had received no communication with the Home Office.

The Indie contacted the hotel and we were referred to its press office, which at the time of going to press had not provided a comment.

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