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Swingers and weekend ravers welcomed at Westward Ho hotel in Folkestone

By Sam Lennon

The owner of a controversial hotel plans to use it as a den for swingers.

Jon Huxley says that the Westward Ho! in Clifton Crescent, Folkestone is set to be used by ravers on raunchy weekend breaks.

It comes after Shepway council stopped the hotel doubling up as temporary accommodation for homeless people.

Jon Huxley outside his Westward Ho! Hotel
Jon Huxley outside his Westward Ho! Hotel

The hotel is expected to include bondage rooms, dungeons and a “red room of pain”, as depicted in the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey.

Mr Huxley said there would be both private rooms for couples and larger ones for multiple couples.

He said: “We have plans to attract tourists from the gay and swinging community for short breaks and weekends of adult fun.

“Obviously a lot of equipment will need to be installed like swings, bondage rooms, red room of pain and dungeons of delight.

"We would be having these events each weekend and accepting tourist guests during the week.’’

Mr Huxley’s plans are to keep up the business in the face of dwindling income from conventional tourism.

For months he had been in a dispute with Shepway District Council over complaints about his use of the hotel as a HMO (house of multiple occupation) to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people.

Councillors had voted for an enforcement notice to stop this after neighbours complained of anti-social behaviour.

The sign showing vacancies at the Westward Ho! hotel
The sign showing vacancies at the Westward Ho! hotel

Mr Huxley told the Express that maintenance costs for the Grade II listed building were high and other sources of custom needed.

When asked whether the new scheme would further anger neighbours, he said: “I do not involve myself in what happens behind their closed doors and they should not involve themselves in what happens behind mine.

"I have bills to pay and the income has to come from somewhere. They have seen fit to take away my current source of guests so I have to look for other sources.’’

Mr Huxley stressed that neighbour complaints had been about anti-social behaviour and noise from the street rather than from inside the property and his new customers would spend most of the time indoors.

He said he would not need a council entertainments licence because there would be no live entertainment, loud music or dancing.

He said: “Food and drink will be provided as part of an all-inclusive hotel package and it would be a civilised and friendly environment. Clothing will be optional and privacy for our guests will therefore need to be ensured.’’

Mr Huxley was given six months to comply with the enforcement notice, which will have expired before the new project begins.

He said the special weekends would be controlled through advance bookings rather than being open to casual callers. They would be advertised predominantly through the internet or word of mouth with some advertising in “appropriate places”.

Fifty Shades of Grey movie starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson
Fifty Shades of Grey movie starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson

Once the business became better known most guests would be repeat visitors, he added.

The row over Westward Ho stretches back 18 months and shows a clash of interests between Shepway’s planning and housing sections.

Housing officials wanted Westward Ho! as a place for people in need of scarce temporary emergency accommodation.

Planning councillors said not taking enforcement action would make the council look weak and set a bad precedent.

The row went public at a development control meeting on January 6 when members voted to give Mr Huxley six weeks to put in an application or face enforcement action.

An officers’ report then said that since October 2013 Westward Ho! had been viewed as an HMO but no application had been put in for change of use.

“We have plans to attract tourists from the gay and swinging community for short breaks and weekends of adult fun" - Jon Huxley

Mr Huxley had argued that he was legally free from applying as the property could still be classed as purely a hotel.

This was because the property’s rooms were not permanent residences, there were no tenancy agreements and the business was bed and breakfast and not room-only accommodation.

He added that keeping the Westward Ho! as a hotel meant that troublemakers could be removed instantly, because they were classed as hotel guests, had no right of residency.

CCTV was also installed.

He said when the council demanded a planning application delays were only caused by his seeking clarification.


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