Dozens of migrants camped overnight on a central London street in protest against conditions at a hotel after their requests for private rooms were turned down.
The group, which appeared to be men only, took to the pavement outside the Comfort Inn in Pimlico after being told they would be sleeping four to a room in bunk beds.
All 25 of them were previously staying at a hotel in Essex, each in their own room with an en suite bathroom. Upon arrival at the venue in Pimlico they learnt they would have to share in rooms fitted with “smelly” bathrooms.
One man, from Iran, said the space in the rooms was “not enough for sleeping four people”.
The group refused to accept the offer of government-funded accommodation and resorted to the footpath outside in protest. They reportedly said they would stay there until their demands for single rooms were met.
Photos taken at the scene showed bedding laid out on cardboard and bags and suitcases.
Men could be seen barricading the entrance to the hotel with their luggage while other pictures show migrants on their phones as they await an outcome to their protest.
Westminster Council asked the Home Secretary to "urgently clarify" the situation of the migrants.
Metropolitan Police officers on Friday attended the hotel, which costs £150 per room per night.
Shortly before 3pm the migrants were seen re-entering the hotel to speak with a representative of the Home Office, and police departed.
The sight of 25 migrants sleeping rough on a London street – only two kilometres from Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s No 10 Downing Street residence – lays bare the state of the UK’s immigration system.
Mr Sunak is under immense pressure from Conservative MPs, councillors and voters to fix the system, which the home secretary has described as broken.
A 27-year-old Iranian man camping on the street told The Telegraph: “Two square metres is not enough for sleeping four people. And when you go to the toilet, the smell damages you.”
Another Iranian citizen, aged 21, who said he had arrived in the UK by crossing the English Channel on a small boat, described the hotel as being “like a jail”.
“They treat you like an animal,” he added.
The transfer of the group from Essex to a hotel in Pimlico is part of the Home Office’s plan to bring down the £6 million-a-day ($7.51 million) cost of accommodating about 50,000 asylum seekers in hotels across the UK.
The Sunak government plans to move migrants to disused army barracks in an attempt to slash costs for the taxpayer.
A giant barge earmarked for migrant accommodation arrived in British waters last month. The Bibby Stockholm will undergo inspections before being taken to Portland Port, off the coast of Dorset, where it will become home for about 500 male asylum seekers. The announcement that the 222-bedroom, three-storey vessel would be used to house asylum seekers drew a backlash from campaigners and locals in Dorset.
Mr Sunak travelled to the European Political Community's summit in Moldova this week where he made the case for stronger co-operation between the UK and its allies to stamp out illegal migration.
Downing Street said the UK would begin talks with Moldova with the aim of striking a returns agreement, similar to the one sealed with Georgia. And it said the government would also work more closely with Bulgaria to help authorities in the eastern European nation “destroy the business model of organised criminal gangs” that profit from illegal migration.