Hotel courts controversy with all-women’s floor
Behind a locked glass door lies the 17th floor of Copenhagen’s Bella Sky hotel: the Bella Donna floor is off-limits to men so women will feel safe and pampered, even though it’s in violation of gender equality laws.
“I’m not allowed to enter. I have to wait here.” Except in the event of an emergency, even hotel manager Anders Duelund cannot pass through the door.
“Me, I have a pass,” insists Chren Vilander Thomsen, head of security, as he bounds into the protected area to remove the AFP journalist accused of disturbing the female guests on the floor.
“We’ve received a complaint and respect for our customers’ privacy is a priority,” he explains as he checks the identity card of the reporter who was seeking out some guests’ impressions of the all-women floor.
Access to Bella Donna, which means Beautiful Woman in Italian, is so strictly restricted that a female guest who wants to bring a man up to her room must ask to switch rooms to another floor.
The exclusion zone prompted one anonymous plaintiff to report the hotel to the Danish Gender Equality Board because “closing off the floor to men stigmatized men as aggressors,” Duelund said.
Jytte Larsen, of the women’s rights network Kvinfo, said the complaint was “inappropriate.”
“There is just one person, a man, who claims that this is discrimination and that requires the board to address the case and rule in his favour because, according to Danish gender equality laws, it is illegal to treat people differently based on their sex,” Larsen lamented.
On Nov. 11, the board ordered the four-star ultra-modern hotel to open the floor to men. But, Duelund insists, “we decide for ourselves who gets to stay at our hotel.”
On the 17th floor, rose and burgundy tones replace the black and grey hues found on the hotel’s other floors, and the female clients enjoy special perks.
The 20 Bella Donna rooms are decked out with fresh flowers and fashion magazines, while the bathrooms feature high-end shampoos, creams and facial masks.
The advantages for the women do not come free. A room on the Bella Donna floor costs $53 more than the same room on another floor.”