‘Here at Chymorvah we have few rules, but please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others).
‘Here at Chymorvah we have few rules, but please note that as Christians we have a deep regard for marriage (being the union of one man to one woman for life to the exclusion of all others). Therefore, although we extend to all a warm welcome to our home, our double-bedded accommodation is not available to unmarried couples — Thank you’.
This is the new wording on the website of the Chymorvah Hotel in Cornwall, whose owners were recently fined for discriminating against a homosexual couple by refusing them a double room. Now I am not a lawyer and have no idea whether this phrasing is legal. But, having browsed the website, I find it objectionable. Not only on grounds of discrimination but of truthfulness. You see I’m not sure Mr and Mrs Bull, owners of Chymorvah, have a deep regard for marriage at all. Or, if they do, it seems to extend only to the point at which their wallets begin.
Quite a few years ago, in strict adherence to the teachings of St Paul, I decided to get married — reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly and in the fear of God, duly considering the causes for which matrimony was ordained. And, like the man in the brochure said, as a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication, it’s great. I’ve had no complaints about the ‘mutual society, help and comfort’ either. Where there is a downer, frankly, is with the procreation of children. Because what the small print in the Prayer Book never mentioned was that now, whenever I pitch up at the Chymorvah Hotel for the weekend, I have to pay a 100 per cent surcharge for the cost of the room if I want to share it with the fruit of my loins. Mr and Mrs Bull may well have ‘a great respect for marriage’, but it doesn’t stop them adding a 50 per cent surcharge to the room rate for every child over the age of seven who shares the room with you — even if the child is legitimate.
You’d think Christians of all people would be sensitive about turning families away from an inn. Apparently not. There are now three reasons for me to avoid the Chymorvah Hotel, tempted as I am by their curried eggs on toast: 1) its aggressively heterosexual decor; 2) the limited opportunities to discuss musical theatre with fellow guests over breakfast; 3) the fact that the owners seem to discriminate against everyone except childless heterosexuals. Parents can’t really leave children under 12 unsupervised in a hotel room (unless they are doctors), so sharing a room is the only option you have.
In defence of Mr and Mrs Bull, their room rate includes breakfast, and so some surcharge for a child is reasonable. But 50 per cent? Even then, they are far from the worst offenders here: militant parents wanting a test case should first try a prosecution for heterosexual discrimination against the Inverlochy Castle Hotel, which quotes on its website an £85 charge for installing a folding child-bed in a room. Pricey, I thought, even for a five-star hotel. So I telephoned to check. It seems I had misunderstood. The charge was £85 per folding bed per night.
This is a hotel which boasts ‘Children are welcome at Inverlochy Castle and there are plenty of activities in and around the Castle to keep everyone amused…’ Such as adding new words to your vocabulary as you listen to your father contesting the bill.
This scandalous gouging (child-seat rental by car hire companies is a similar scam) is something online interest groups could contest more vigorously. Even if you don’t agree with Stonewall’s campaign, you have to admire their resolve. It’s time Mumsnet did something similar.
Rory Sutherland is vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK.