Finding the Right Hotel for You and Your Disability
This is a third blog by Chris, giving you the best advice for finding the best hotel for you and your disability. Staying in a good hotel can be an integral part of the enjoyment of your holiday or an indispensable part of your work. So how do you choose, if accessibility is a factor?
The word ‘access’ can be tricky here. The hotel might mean you can get in and have a drink. You may be able to reach the restaurant and have a lovely meal, but you may not be able to stay as there are no suitable rooms. You read phrases like ‘some access’ ‘reasonable access’ or ‘fairly accessible’ which are ultimately meaningless.
There are many booking websites now and good ones such as booking.com have an accessibility filter so you can click on ‘facilities for disabled guests’.
This often works well but increasingly I am encountering problems. The reason is that the establishments are self-certifying. In some cases they are given basic guidance when they sign up but it’s up to them.
There is no huge inspectorate going out to check every hotel. You would think people would be honest as the last thing they want is an argument in reception when a disabled visitor is unhappy but on the other hand they don’t want to turn away potential custom by saying they have no facilities when they may have a few. So, use the booking websites for initial research but ring the hotel direct when you think you have found one and check carefully.
In France and part of Italy there is a booking organisation called ‘Logis’. You can use this like booking.com with their disability filter. You can check whether the restaurant is accessible, whether there are any accessible rooms, or both. This filter has worked very well for me with only one disagreement in 15 years of regular use.
When researching, TripAdvisor has a disability group you can join which holds lots of relevant accessibility information.
Even when you are in a hotel which boasts about its great accessibility features there will be no consistency from one establishment to another – particularly in toilet/bathroom provision.
A typical accessible hotel room will have a few standard accessibility features – possibly a larger room, possibly a larger bathroom, often bath removed and shower installed (often with no seat), one or two grab rails in the bathroom, red alarm cords for if you fall in the bathroom or roll out of bed and a phone with large buttons.
Even if the room is good it might be located a long way from the reception or the restaurant – even in a different building. That might be the only place with suitable rooms to adapt so again, check. This is surprisingly common and arises because new buildings may have been added as the hotel has expanded and these new buildings are more likely to conform to current accessibility guidelines.
Keep a cool head – when in Cyprus last year our accessible room was an absolute delight. It had been decided that the rooms should be on the ground floor for fire safety – fair enough. But to make the ground floor accessible they had ramped what had previously been 8 or 9 steps up from Reception. The ramp was ridiculously steep. The only people confronted by this ramp were the disabled guests. Everyone else went to different floors by the lift with no slope in sight.
When in Majorca I remember talking to the manager about his brilliantly adapted accessible bathroom. He was in the bathroom and I was in the bedroom because I couldn’t get to the brilliant bathroom as the door was too narrow.
In many ways you are safer with an established chain. Premier Inn and Novotel for instance each have an excellent design for their accessible rooms and bathrooms so you can rely on consistent provision across the country.
A good hotel will have bed raisers available, maybe a mobile hoist, ability to change a double bed for two singles and so on. Check their website or ring direct.
When researching a hotel online, look for their Access Statement, which is where they all relevant accessibility information should be contained. If there isn’t a statement that’s your first warning sign!
If you book a hotel room in a hotel which is part of a holiday complex of some kind then you may have an accessible room in or near the hotel but the accessible shower and toilet are in a nearby building serving the holiday park.
Don’t take anything for granted!