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Sun 16 Nov 2014 03:36 PM

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Controversy in London over 'Sharia law' at hotel

Bermondsey Square Hotel's decision to ban pork, alcohol reportedly came after it was taken over by a Middle Eastern businessman

Controversy in London over 'Sharia law' at hotel
Image for illustrative purposes only.

A boutique hotel in London has attracted controversy after deciding to stop serving alcohol and pork, a move described by local media as an example of Sharia law being implemented.

The Bermondsey Square Hotel’s decision came after it was taken over by a ‘Middle Eastern businessman’, according to the Daily Mail, with the new policy implemented last Tuesday.

The newspaper reports that the hotel’s bar and grill also stopped serving dishes which contained traces of alcohol, and said there has already been a negative reaction from guests.

A follow-up by The Huffington Post confirmed the new policy, although the hotel’s general manager refused to confirm whether the property was indeed now operating in accordance with Sharia law.

"All future bookings will not be served alcohol and those queries are being told when they book," a spokesperson said.

"The hotel has not had mini-bars but guests can bring in their own drinks."

The hotel is well-known for having appeared in a TV show in 2012 featuring chef Gordon Ramsay and other local celebrities.

Its bar and grill, in which the new policies have been implemented, used to be operated by celebrity restaurateur and Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace.

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chalky6766 5 years ago

The menu listed clearly states that no alcohol is being served however I had to laugh when they had an advertisement for Xmas bookings at the hotel. There is Pork on the menu in the form of Pork Belly, I probably like most here would be guilty of terrible double standards if I were to criticize this as Dubai is very compromising indeed when it comes to these matters. It’s hardly the Savoy and if the new owner wants to take alcohol of the menu then that’s up to him, I ‘m sure he has done his homework ref his intended and incumbent demographic of clientele. The DM & Huffington post are in a world of their own most of the time

Andy 5 years ago

He went to England to impose Muslim beliefs upon Europeans. Imagine the reaction of one doing the same in the Emirates of what the consequences would be like...

chalky6766 5 years ago

Andy, perhaps you haven't been to the Emirates however if you have you will have seen that the rulers here have compromised beyond there need to. Restaurants and supermarkets sell Pork and alcohol is available in bars/restaurants and clubs all over town. One could say that we are imposing our own European values on them as well! However it is actually as is the case in the UK about compromise. I don't see anyone having a problem with this in the UK apart from hysterical DM readers. I will say this and that is that the hotel will lose customers as a result of this and if the owner is seen to be selectively barring clients based on religious values then he wont be in business long

MT3 5 years ago

I'd prefer to think that he is providing a choice. Which is also amply provided in the UAE for non-Muslims; I can drink and eat pork in many hotels and restaurants here, for example. However, to say that the hotel will be run according to Sharia law is simply inflamatory tabloid nonsense; the hotel will have to comply with the laws of the land; you don't get to opt out on religious or cultural grounds. For example, given the recent court case in the UK involving a devout Christian couple's Bed and Breakfast, I'll be interested to see when a gay couple try to check-in whether the hotel refuses them a shared bed for the night.

Banker 5 years ago

Andy, you clearly have never been to the UAE. I say pay a visit before you comment with out any knowledge or research.

I will let you see for yourself rather than explain how much the UAE has compromised in terms of "openess" for non-Muslims.

Aryan 5 years ago

Its a private property and rights of admission are reserved. He can do whatever he feels like with his hotel.

Red Snappa 5 years ago

Whilst not a very sensible move in a UK environment in terms of encouraging indigenous clientele, the number of people that don't drink alcohol is on the rise, however the number that would decline a bacon sandwich or ham and cheese panini is not.

Nevertheless, there are many people that would prefer to avoid regular contact with wildly inebriate attendees at the annual sales conference or office party.

Now if they'd tried to impose those rules at the Dorchester, I could understand the fuss. However, if your target market is Muslim visitors, then that's the owners choice unless it says otherwise under the terms of the hotel's operating licence.

Nevertheless, the UK discrimination laws are quite intricate and may well apply here.

MT3 5 years ago

No he can't - he still has to comply with the laws of the land - the British papers know that and use phrases like the "imposition of Sharia law" to whip up outrage and imply that swathes of the UK are being overrun by fundamentalists; afterall where is the story in a hotelier simply looking to lawfully meet the needs of a specific market sector. Lawfully he can ban alcohol and he can serve whatever food he wishes but he cannot deny service on the grounds of race, religion or sexuality.

Billy 5 years ago

As long as the laws are not being broken he, I believe, is free to run his establishment in whatever way he feels is good for business. However, if the banning of alcohol on the Pearl in Qatar is any indication, this businessman will soon be looking at a failing, empty hotel and a restaurant where the waiters outnumber the guests. So let the market forces decide if he has made a clever or foolish move but the beauty of the UK is that as long as it is legal he is free to make these moves. Lets celebrate that shall we.

RealityCheck 5 years ago

I travel for business quite a lot, I have for the last 20 years or so in a large number of countries.
Funnily enough I think I have never seen these wildly inebriated guests you describe (they are but different places with more sun and cheaper booze, not sure anyone would like to fly to London just to get drunk)

In fact while working for business I think i have seldom taken any alcohol. In fact you can abstain from alcohol and order food with no pork quite easily (you can mostly replace halal with kosher)

This is more about what other people are doing, as it is most often the case, and while from a purely legal perspective he has all the rights to set up his business as he wishes you have to wonder if ghetiification, no matter how fancy and how much bling used, is the right approach