United Kingdom

Dozens of migrants are living in a hotel with 55 asylum seekers put up for as long as nine months

Dozens of asylum seekers are being housed in a hotel in one of London's most upmarket postcodes.

The Best Western Kensington Olympia, a short walk from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's residence Kensington Palace, has been closed to paying customers and is instead putting up 55 migrants – in some cases for up to nine months.

The hotel is nestled in a corner of West London where three-bedroom flats sell for about £1.2 million.

The Mail on Sunday watched on last week as a group of young men gathered outside the hotel casually chatting and smoking together.

The Best Western Kensington Olympia (pictured) has been closed to paying customers and is instead putting up 55 migrants – in some cases for up to nine months

One strolled out of the building watching a video on an iPad.

Inside, rooms are equipped with wi-fi, air conditioning and flat-screen TVs.

Most of the residents said they did not understand or speak any English. One man named Mosin, 28, who said he was from Iran, told the MoS he had been living in the hotel for more than nine months. 

He said: 'There are 55 of us. We are all refugees. Many of us are waiting to know what will happen to us next.

'We survive here but we are f****** bored. There is nothing to do and we cannot work.'

Another man, who claimed to be from El Salvador, said that he was not allowed to talk about why he was staying there.

There are around 64,000 people in Home Office accommodation. While the majority are in shared housing, about 10,000 people are in hotels

A neighbour, who declined to give his name, said: 'It does sometimes feel like you're living next to a refugee camp when they're all outside smoking, which is quite strange for West London.'

The Best Western Kensington Olympia is one of dozens of hotels up and down the country being used to house migrants.

There are around 64,000 people in Home Office accommodation. While the majority are in shared housing, about 10,000 people are in hotels. 

Home Office officials have admitted that 90 hotels are being used to house migrants and that the hotels are 'not great value for the taxpayer'.

The accommodation, which includes four-star hotels, is part of a £4 billion contract between the Home Office and a string of outsourcing giants.

The Government plans to move migrants out of hotels and into housing, known as dispersed accommodation, in a scheme called Operation Oak.

The number of migrants crossing the Channel between 2019-21 has been increasing year-on-year. The red line for 2021 soars above the lines for previous years, showing the monthly total is now at its highest ever

In Hull, where dozens of migrants are being housed in a hotel, local MPs and the council have objected, saying it is 'totally unsuitable for the vulnerable individuals'.

Analysis by the National Audit Office has shown that the average cost of accommodating an asylum seeker is £560 a month, up from £437 a month, plus a weekly allowance of £39.63 for food and other costs.

Figures published by the Home Office reveal that asylum costs stood at £956 million in 2019-20.

A Home Office spokesman said: 'The asylum system is being exploited by criminal gangs who facilitate dangerous, unnecessary and illegal small boat crossings.

'Our Nationality and Borders Bill will fix this broken system to deter these crossings.

'In the meantime, due to the unprecedented demand, we need to use temporary facilities such as hotels to manage demands on our existing accommodation and the immigration detention estate.'

Best Western did not respond to request for comment.

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