|Hotel Without A Holy Bible.|
But the chain, which runs 500 hotels, said the country was becoming increasingly multicultural and it had taken the action for ‘diversity reasons’. It said the policy was implemented ‘in order not to discriminate against any religion’ – despite having had no complaints from guests.
Bibles were taken away at the same time as a refurbishment of its rooms, removing drawers where they were kept. The Bibles, which were provided free by the Gideon Society, have been retained and are stored behind reception for guests to borrow on request, the company says.
A Church of England spokesman said: ‘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”.’
It seems not all Travelodges even have Bibles available on request. At the branch in Battersea, south London, there was no Bible in the room or behind reception. When requested, the receptionist could not find a copy and said no one had ever asked him for one in his four months of working there. Instead, he suggested using the hotel’s free wifi to ‘Google it and read it online’.
When pushed for a hard copy, he rang his manager who told him they used to have them in rooms, but hadn’t had any at the hotel since refurbishment last year. But other hotel firms, including Britain’s largest budget hotel company, Premier Inn, and InterContinental Hotels, owners of the Holiday Inn chain, say Bibles are being retained at their hotels. A Premier Inn spokesman said: ‘Bibles are available in Premier Inn rooms.
‘On the rare occasion that a customer does not wish to have a Bible in their room, they can request this to be removed ahead of their stay by contacting the hotel directly.’
Travelodge is the first national hotel chain to remove Bibles – although in 2012 one independent hotel, the Damson Dene Hotel in Crosthwaite, Cumbria, replaced them with the erotic bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey.
A Travelodge spokesman said: ‘The reason is because of diversity. With the country being increasingly multicultural, we didn’t feel it was appropriate to just have the Bible because there are people of other religions. People were also taking Bibles away and with the redesign of the rooms, it was felt that it would be better to remove them.’
Another spokesman added: ‘In order not to discriminate against any religion, customers who would like a Bible can pick a copy from any one of Travelodge’s 500 hotel reception desks across the country, whilst staying at the hotel. To date, Travelodge has not received any customer feedback regarding this decision.’
They went on to say: ‘The removal of Bibles from hotel rooms was a policy we decided upon in 2007 and has been gradually implemented over the following years.’
THE 126-YEAR-OLD TRADITION: HOW BIBLES CAME TO BE PLACED IN HOTELS
In more recent years, the work was taken over by the Gideon Society, which distributes free Bibles in almost 194 countries worldwide. Members of the Gideon Society, an evangelical Christian organisation founded in the US in 1898, were inspired to give out free Bibles in hotel rooms after visiting Britain and seeing the Commercial Travellers’ Christian Association’s work.
In the UK, the Gideon Society, whose income comes from donations and bequests from wills, still continues this mission – giving out free bibles to large institutions, including hospitals and prisons. Copies of the New Testament are also presented to school pupils, members of the armed forces, police, ambulance and fire services.