Bermondsey Square Hotel’s ‘Sharia’ makeover

Following its sale to a Muslim businessman, the Bermondsey Square Hotel is phasing out the sale of pork and alcohol.  You can still, apparently, buy alcohol to consume on the premises and assurances have been given (in response to concerns) that there will be no discrimination against same sex couples.  This move has led to understandable frustration from some returning customers who assumed they would still be able to have a traditional English breakfast and order a drink at the bar.

Clearly this decision is going to hit the hotel’s trade. From a business point of view it seems a disastrous move. However I notice that they don’t mind guests buying alcohol to drink in their rooms – if they could extend this flexibility to the dining room, their ‘dry’ policy could be turned into a selling point, as guests would be able to avoid the traditional high mark up on wine served in restaurants.

This probably isn’t going to happen. However, to put this hotel’s new policy into perspective, it is of course the case that many hotels restrict the services available to guests on ethical or religious grounds of some kind.  Some hotels are vegetarian.  A few years ago I stayed in a very nice gluten-free hotel – that wasn’t why we chose it, but for some guests that would be a huge selling point. Observant Jews are free to choose a Kosher hotel. And you can still find the odd temperance hotel.