Was Travelodge Right To Ditch Its Hotel Bibles?
A Bible in your bedside drawer has always been one of those comforting mediocre hotel room givens, like toiletries of dubious provenance and chocolates – if you’re lucky enough to get them – that taste of cardboard. But could this be coming to an end?
Travelodge is currently coming under fire in the UK for removing Bibles from all its hotel rooms, “because of diversity reasons” and “‘in order not to discriminate against any religion”. Predictably, there’s a firestorm of people on Twitter vowing to switch allegiance to Premier Inn, and the Church of England declaring that: “It seems both tragic and bizarre that hotels would remove the word of God for the sake of ergonomic design, economic incentive or a spurious definition of the word ‘diversity’.”
In actual fact, the story isn’t as extreme as it sounds at first – the Bibles, which were always provided free of charge by the Gideon Society, haven’t been burned or chucked out – Travelodge says they are being “retained” and will be doled out by reception on request. What’s more, in surely the most telling part of this story, Travelodge says this decision was taken in 2007, and the hotels have been steadily implementing it since then, without receiving any complaints until the Daily Mail got wind of it last week.
This is a fraught topic, of course - in fact, it was HotelChatter's most provocative openthread of 2010, last time we discussed it. But four years on, is this a sign of things to come?
Personally, we’ve never actually touched an inroom Bible – not because of religious preference, but because of germs – but to us it always feels weirdly comforting when we see one. Ditto, on a stay in Turkey earlier this year, we liked seeing a copy of the Koran in one of the rooms we stayed in; and seeing the Book of Mormon in the bedside table surely gives a little frisson to an otherwise dull Marriott room. Isn’t the point of diversity that we’re interested in other cultures, rather than offended by them?
Of course, the alternative to removing Bibles is to do what Tim Stanley suggests in the Telegraph, and what hotels like the Shangri-La Sydney and, er, the the Hotel Lucia in Portland are doing, and add an entire library of books from various faiths to hotel rooms - maybe on Kindle, as Hotel Indigo Newcastle has done. Personally, we like that option, apart from the Scientology ones. But we'd prefer books to leaf through, rather than a grimy Kindle.
So, Bibles in hotel rooms: the 2014 redux. Are they nice or are they anachronistic? Weigh in in the comments below!
[Photo: A Travel Broad]