Luxury hotel in Dublin bans all social media influencers after blogger asks for free stay


A luxury hotel in Dublin has banned YouTubers and Instagram stars from staying with them after a 22-year-old YouTube blogger asked for a free five-night stay and proceeded to break down in tears when she was promptly refused. This story has been widely shared across multiple social media platforms.

The whole issue started when a woman called Elle Darby, a UK-based social media influencer with over 87,000 YouTube subscribers and around 76,000 Instagram followers, decided to get in touch with the owner of The White Moose Cafe, Paul Stenson, and asked if he was interested in any sort of collaboration.

Ready to get back into this fitness ish ?? with my trusty @womensbest strawberry kiwi BCAAs.. obv ? — With two holidays already booked this year, plus just having had surgery and being sofa-bound for nearly two weeks I feel SO ready to change my lifestyle back to the way that makes me feel good. Someone dm’d me the other day after I spoke about this on my story saying they felt the same, as they’d gone from ‘being the bikini competitor to the girl who asked OTHERS for fitness advice’.. and honestly, I couldn’t relate more ?. I feel like I’m starting all over again! — In 2017, suffering with (what I NOW know was) an underactive thyroid — feeling exhausted, drained and just generally ill all the time — as well as what I think was sacrificing the rest of my life for ‘fitness’ (never go out with friends, created YouTube content I felt suited my audience more than it suited me, didn’t eat foods I loved and enjoyed — and food brings me happiness DYAKNOWHATIMEAN) I fell completely out of love with fitness. Done. Didn’t want it. Had absolutely zero interest. So… I took a little time off. About 6 months, to be exact. Like, WHAT?! A qualified PT, who literally lived & breathed fitness, competed in bikini, fought so hard to make fitness her lifestyle, her income.. It was a risky thing to do, because I genuinely didn’t see myself being as interested in it ever again, but — boy, did it relight the fire ? — I know it’s cliche, but I truly think the secret is to find a way of ‘fitness’ that YOU enjoy. This time round, I’m not limiting myself to 2 hours in the gym every day. I’m trying yoga, Zumba, walking, circuits, bringing friends along, learning to cook, discovering which food my body thrives off, which style of training makes me feel like bloody wonderwoman.. and when to let fitness take a backseat so life can be lived. The only standards that matter are the ones we set ourselves, and I’ve come to learn that my standards aren’t about having a massive butt or being a size 6 but instead being a happy, confident, secure young woman who can influence others to find happiness in being healthy, too. Physically, but most importantly, mentally. ?✨ #YOUDOYOUBOO

A post shared by ELLE (@elledarby_) on

She got in touch with Paul Stenson via email which read: «I work as a social media influencer, mainly lifestyle, beauty & travel based. My partner and I are planning to come to Dublin for an early Valentine’s Day weekend from Feb 8th to 12th to explore the area. As I was searching for places to stay, I came across your stunning hotel and would love to feature you in my YouTube videos/dedicated Instagram stories/posts to bring traffic to your hotel and recommend others to book up in return for free accommodation.»

London I’m comin for ya ??

A post shared by ELLE (@elledarby_) on

She concluded the email by narrating how she had organized a similar sort of arrangement with Universal Orlando in Florida last year and she stated that «it has been amazing for them».

Paul Stenson, the owner of the White Moose hotel, responded to her email but decided to do so publicly, taking to The White Moose’s Facebook page.

In the post Stenson wrote: «Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names), Thank you for your email looking for free accommodation in return for exposure. 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 a 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?»

Dear Social Influencer (I know your name but apparently it’s not important to use names),Thank you for your email…

Posted by The White Moose Café on Dienstag, 16. Januar 2018

«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?.» This is what Paul Stenson concluded the story with and of course, his point was made loud and clear. As if it was not clear enough Stenson also included » P.S. The answer is no».

In the message that Stenson had posted on Facebook, he had tried his level best to black out Darby’s name and other contact details that were revealed but people soon connected the dots and were quick to identify the person as YouTuber Elle Darby. Many people were quick to comment and criticize Darby based on her request and behavior.

With the negative criticism and backlash she received, Elle resorted to uploading a YouTube video of herself where she directly addresses the controversy. In the video, she can be seen having a meltdown from all the embarrassment, humiliation, and anger that she felt as she attempts to defend and justify herself.

These are some of the negative comments against Elle Darby:

Another person tweeted:
A Twitter user commented on the situation saying:

«I was exposed (SO embarrassing)», the influencer emotionally insists she got in contact with Stenson with ‘nothing but the purest intentions’. As a 22-year-old girl, who’s running her own business from her home, I don’t feel like I did anything wrong.»

Darby was not pleased with the way that Paul decided to show her up and she wonders why he could not reply via email which would have been private and a lot less humiliating. «I don’t really know what their intent was — it was just malicious» and that since his post, she has received countless comments calling her a «disgusting freeloader.»

People have reacted both ways to Darby’s problem; some who agree with the Dublin hotel’s nasty response and some who believe that Darby did not do anything wrong to deserve the harsh reaction that she received. The Dublin Hotel also received its own backlash after the heated controversy.
In a recent Facebook post in response to the video, Stenson boldly declared in all caps that «All bloggers banned from our business. Following the backlash received after asking an unidentified blogger to pay for a hotel room, I have taken the decision to ban all bloggers from our hotel and cafe. He also mentioned in the post that «the sense of entitlement is just too strong in the blogging community.»

**ALL BLOGGERS BANNED FROM OUR BUSINESS**Following the backlash received after asking an unidentified blogger to pay…

Posted by The White Moose Café on Mittwoch, 17. Januar 2018

Stenson also believes that had he let Darby stay for free, she would have only said some nice things about the hotel because they let her stay for free and not really because the hotel was good. Stenson thinks that this damages the authenticity of social influencers and persons.

With all the negative backlash that Paul Stenson and his luxury hotel received, he only had this to say:


Here is a video that Elle Darby posted in response to the calling out: