Melanie Carmen and Joy Mcdonagh, sisters from Sidcup in Kent, stayed at the Airways Hotel in Victoria in February 2010 for two nights, but were left needing treatment at Bexley Urgent Care Centre.
McDonagh had been bitten by bed bugs at the hotel in 52 separate places, while Carmen had suffered from 86 bites, causing aching, itching and flu-like symptoms that left Mcdonagh unable to work.
Lawyers from travel law specialists Irwin Mitchell claim staff at the hotel continued to allocate the sisters a room despite knowing it had a bed bug infestation.
Katy Bailey, a solicitor at Irwin Mitchell, said: “It is vital that the Airways Hotel conducts an investigation and makes significant improvements to its hygiene standards. With the holiday season underway and the Olympic Games to be held in London next year increasing the number of bookings, it is vital that guests can be assured of a clean and safe environment.”
The Airways Hotel is described as ‘terrible’ by 146 guests and ‘poor’ by 79 guests on controversial reviews website TripAdvisor, where posters complain of dirty sheets, halls like ‘building sites’, sticky floors, thin mattresses and inattentive staff.
Reviewers also complained of poor conditions at the hotel’s nearby ‘sister’ property The Hanover Hotel.
One reviewer known as palmashofu, wrote: “In the hour we spent in the Hanover Hotel, we managed to be bitten repeatedly by something unpleasant, resulting in a great deal of itching.”
Another known as Bob247 wrote: “Shortly after my stay at Airways, I began noticing bite marks all over my body. A work colleague who also stayed in the hotel that night had also been bitten everywhere. A week later and the bites are still bright red and itching. A previous review about bed bugs explains a lot!!
“Although the room appeared clean and tidy, this was obviously not the case. London is an expensive city for hotels, but staying in a cheap hotel is not worth the distress.”
Posting their own review on TripAdvisor, the sisters under the name JM1Kent, said: “After the first night we spent the next day scratching as a number of lumps started to appear on our bodies. The next morning we were horrified to find that we had again been the delight of some bugs dinner.
“After complaining to the management, they offered us another room which upon reflection was not one of our better decisions.
“Whilst packing up our belongings to move on, not only did we find two dead bugs under a pillow, we also found a newspaper and a transport ticket dated the previous month down the back of the bed. Futher investigation of the room identified that the curtains were dirty and the carpets were grubby, the housekeeping was only surface clean.
“We were not allowed into the new room until the room had been treated along with the one we had vacated. Unfortunately due to our experience and the number of bites, together with the smell of the chemicals we were unable to sleep.
“As we departed from the hotel, we once again complained but received no apology. When we finally arrived home we visited the A&E dept of our local hospital where antibiotics were prescribed and the last count was 148 bites between the pair of us. We sent an email to hotel again no apology, but they did offer us one nights money back.”
Carmen added: “It makes it worse knowing that it isn’t just us who have suffered because of the appalling conditions at the hotel. The hotel must have known there were problems yet they were quite happy to put us at risk.
“I only wish we had researched the hotel more thoroughly before booking the holiday. Past guests have criticised the hotel all over the internet and if we had seen these reviews we certainly wouldn’t have chosen the Airways Hotel.”
A spokesperson for Westminster City Council confirmed an inspection was conducted following the sisters' visit, but the owner of the Airways Hotel had taken measures to rectify the problem.
"They had undertaken the right pest control treatments and have now committed to a service contract to monitor the problem. We've not has any other complaints from them since. In that sense we are satisfied that the problem has been sorted," he said.
Instances of bed bug infestations have risen over the past year, with pest control experts Rentokil claiming to have carried out 38 per cent more bed bug treatments in 2010 than the previous year.
Savvas Othon, technical director at Rentokil, said: “Early detection is of paramount importance in controlling bed bugs. Our recommendation is that all hotels should have a professional bed bug protection programme in place, to significantly reduce this risk.
“High levels of hygiene and deep cleaning, including washing bed linen at a minimum 60 degrees Celsius, will help to keep bedbug numbers under control along with the use of DIY products. A professional treatment will be required to eradicate the infestation and if the treatment is done thoroughly, the outcome should be successful.”
Lawyers from Irwin Mitchell negotiated an out of court settlement for the sisters of around £1,600 each to cover the cost of their treatment and lost earnings.
No-one from the Airways Hotel was available for comment.