A fire alarm at a five-star London hotel gave dozens of diners the chance to leave without paying for their meals, losing the venue thousands of pounds.
The Dorchester in Mayfair had to evacuate all 50 customers from its rooftop restaurant The Grill at 10.30pm last Friday after a patio heater caught fire.
By the time firefighters arrived on the scene it had already been put out, said London Fire Brigade.
However, during the commotion it gave almost all the punters chance to slip away into the night without covering their bills at a cost of around £5,000, it has been claimed.
A source told The Sun: “The whole thing was a complete carry on.
“The fire brigade were called when a gas heater burst into flames but whoever rang told them a person was on fire so they sent ambulances and the fire brigade.
“Once it was clear they realised that guests had left without paying any of their bills.”
Hotel management told the newspaper the money lost will have to be written off, though said all guests had been contacted the following day.
The famed eatery boasts a menu by TV chef Tom Booton which includes portions of chips for £7, a prawn scotch egg starter for £16 and a £15 lemon tart.
Champagne, meanwhile, starts at £23 a glass. The hotel said no one was hurt in the “minor incident”.
It added: “Guests were contacted privately the next day.”
On Wednesday, the hotel marked 90 years in business.
When lockdown measures eased on April 12, it was able to open three outdoor dining spaces.