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When My Husband And I Were Denied A Hotel Room Because Of Different Last Names

A boorish hotel receptionist wouldn't give us a room even though we were travelling with our child, just because our IDs did not show the same last names.

A boorish hotel receptionist wouldn’t give us a room even though we were travelling with our child, just because our IDs did not show the same last names.

It was a late evening flight and we were to land at Indore at 10.00 pm. Our plan was to travel to our destination which was again another 20 kms away from Indore. But keeping in mind that we have a 5 year old and it was already quite late we decided to halt for a night at Indore itself. We quickly booked a room online and proceeded towards the hotel directly from the airport. The hotel had the appearance of a three star hotel.

“How will I know if you are married or not?”

At the reception, we were greeted by a young man. He asked us for our ID cards which we promptly handed over. In the meanwhile as I was having a word with my son, I heard an altercation breaking out between my husband and the receptionist.

I quickly moved towards the front desk to see what the commotion was all about. I could hear the receptionist refusing to give us a room. He had a look at our ID cards and said rather condescendingly, “Aapka toh kuch bhi match nahi ho raha hai, na surname na address, main kaise maan loo ki aap log married ho? Yeh ID cards nahi chalengey, aapko apna marriage certificate dikhana hoga”. (Nothing is matching in your IDs, neither your surnames, nor your addresses. How will I know whether you are married or not? These ID cards will not work. Show me your marriage certificate).

When we said that we weren’t carrying our marriage certificate, he said curtly that it is clearly mentioned in the hotel’s rules and regulations that the receptionist can deny a room if the couple does not furnish ID cards that indicate they are married.

On hearing this statement I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Being a hotel management graduate myself and after working in a five star property, I had never heard of such a rule. After a long tiring day, all we wanted was to get a bed to sleep on, but nah, this gentleman seemed to have other plans for us. Obviously he thought we had come for a cozy rendezvous at their hotel. But who does that with a child in tow? Now that surely pointed at a skewed thought process.

A heated discussion

I nervously tapped my feet as I could feel my husband’s temper rising. As a last resort he whipped out his military ID and showed it at the desk, but this also didn’t seem to appease the receptionist. We demanded to see a senior manager or supervisor. The young man, informed us that he had been strictly instructed not to disturb any of his senior managers or the MD at night and that he could call them only in the morning.

My head was literally reeling by then. I asked my husband to book with another hotel. But my husband was adamant. “How can this man question my integrity like that?” he exclaimed angrily. Thankfully right then I finally remembered that I had a dependent card with me that all army wives are issued, in which it clearly mentions that I am the wife of this officer. When we show him this card he says, “Achaa yeh tha, toh pehle dikha dete.” (Oh, you had this, then you should have shown it earlier.)

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When he said that, all hell broke loose. My husband couldn’t take this young lad’s smart aleck comments any more. As the discussion got increasingly heated and just when I though that it was about to get physical, another young man intervened and moved this insolent receptionist into another room. He apologized on behalf of his colleague and gave us the key to a room immediately.

Is there any such law?

As soon as we checked into the room, the first thing I checked was if there is any law in India that denies an unmarried couple a stay in a hotel. And to my surprise the website of the hotel in which we were put up, clearly stated that, “No law in the country denies an unmarried couple a stay in a hotel. However, checking-in a couple is at the discretion of the hotel owners / managers”.

While hotels are free to exercise discretion, shouldn’t they do it with prudence? If the young man had explained the same rules more graciously, we may have even accepted it. And what if two consenting adults did want to spend a night in a room? Choosing to stay together is a personal choice, which cannot be restricted in a country like ours which is supposedly a democracy. With the decriminalizing of homosexuality, hotels will now have to even exercise discretion on whether to give rooms to same sex partners as well. It would be very interesting to know what kind of IDs they would require for this.

So on one side when you just thought that you are in the 21st century with the Supreme Court passing back to back landmark judgments, we also have hotels judging you and having the ability to make you feel that you are committing a crime even when you want to spend a night in a hotel with your wife and kid.

This whole incident made me realize, that we as a country still have a long way to go. Sharing a surname is still considered as the ultimate proof for a married couple. Now another permanent fixture in my handbag would have to be a laminated copy of my marriage certificate, because apparently a child and an ID card is not proof enough.

A version of this was first published here.

Image source: shutterstock

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About the Author

Anjali Paul

I am a mom who works from home and dabbles with writing when time permits.An avid reader since childhood, blogging and writing helps me de-stress.My five year old keeps me on my read more...

10 Posts | 24,499 Views

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