A social media influencer asked a hotel for a free stay. Their response to her went viral.

Earlier this week, social media influencer Elle Darby had a business idea. She would stay at a Dublin hotel with her partner for an early Valentine’s Day weekend. For free.

In return, she would share a series of aesthetically pleasing photos and videos to her 79,000 Instagram and YouTube followers, complete with the hotel’s location and social tags to “bring traffic” and “recommend others to book”.

Only, she picked the wrong hotel.

Upon receiving this email, the White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge’s owner, Paul Stenson did not share Darby’s enthusiasm for this exciting opportunity for mutual gain.

But rather than reply with a simple but effective ‘No thanks’, he instead posted a screenshot of Darby’s proposal on Facebook along with some choice words that summed up exactly how he felt about her request.

“Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure,” he wrote.

“It takes a lot of balls to send an email like that, if not much self-respect and dignity. If I let you stay here in return for a feature in your video, who is going to pay the staff who look after you?

“Who is going to pay the housekeepers who clean your room? The waiters who serve you breakfast? The receptionist who checks you in? Who is going to pay for the light and heat you use during your stay? The laundering of your bed sheets? The water rates? Maybe I should tell my staff they will be featured in your video in lieu of receiving payment for work carried out while you’re in residence?”


The post went on to point out that the hotel, in fact, had quite a few of their own followers across their social media accounts, adding that doesn’t entitle them to anything for free.

“In future, I’d advise you to offer to pay your way like everyone else, and if the hotel in question believes your coverage will help them, maybe they’ll give you a complimentary upgrade to a suite. This would show more self-respect on your part and, let’s face it, it would be less embarrassing for you.”

The viral post was met with both praise and criticism.

“Wow, remind me never to stay at your hotel if that’s how you treat people. Also, all you needed to do was respond with a simple ‘No thanks, that’s something we don’t require’ but instead you’ve just stooped to a childish level and humiliated yourself. Well done,” one comment writer said.

Another added: “This is really tacky. All it takes is to reply to the email with ‘no’. Considering how many brands expect bloggers to work for free as the industry standard, sending an email like this is not unusual.”

Others appreciated Stenson’s dry humour, and offered up their own brand of sarcasm over the situation.

One wrote: “I’m so glad that influencer was able to single-handedly boost the visitor count at Universal Orlando – they were really struggling to be noticed for a while.”

“Hey I created an Instagram acct purely to spy on my teenage child but now have 55 followers, can I come and stay free for a week with the kids?” another asked.


Darby responded to Stenson’s decision to shame her – readers were able to see the blacked out link to her profile if they turned up the brightness on their screens – in a 13-minute long YouTube video.

“I’ve never in my life had a rude, nasty, disrespectful response… let alone the response I got to that email,” she said.

“I felt my heart sink to the bottom of my stomach… I wasn’t even going to make a big deal out of this, but then I had some other bloggers contact me and they made me see that this isn’t OK and it’s not just me.”


Darby has since thanked her followers for the kindness they’ve shown her throughout the 24-hour ordeal.

“I wish I could give everyone the biggest squeeze because your lovely words have made me feel WAY less lonely. I didn’t ask for or expect to be put in this situation but I’m really happy it’s been able to pull the blogging/vlogging industry together in some way. Have courage and be kind, be the best person you can be every day and everything will fall into place,” she said.

As for the White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge? Well, they are now no longer accepting bookings from bloggers because of the ‘harsh backlash’ they received for… being harsh to a blogger.

“I have taken the decision to ban all bloggers from our hotel and cafe. If any of you attempt to enter our premises from now on, you will be ejected,” he wrote in a follow-up post.

It appears both Darby and the White Moose Café and Charleville Lodge are happy to go their separate ways, with their respective thousands of new followers in toe.

All’s well that ends well, right?

Do you think the hotel owner did the right thing?