At the end of last week, Laurence and I went away for a night to see a show in Melton Mowbray. It’s a small town in the middle of nowhere – very old and difficult to negotiate but there was level access to the pork pie shop. The men in my family are very happy. I’m so awesome. And got to buy a bag of my fave treat chocolates. The show was good and there was just enough exploring to do to keep us busy for a few hours… but that’s beside the point. My point of ranting today is hotels. There are some brilliant ones, some awful ones, some who don’t like to admit to disability accessible rooms in public.
I’ve stayed in a lot of truly horrendous places. In one I hurt my shoulder on a table fixed to the wall at shoulder-height with no room for a seated person to pass between it and the bed, and then badly bruised my foot as the bed was so high I had to actually climb onto it. Another was so small that and badly arranged that Laurence had trouble getting in. I couldn’t even get into the bathroom and, having just come from a wedding reception, had to cross my legs all night and leave as soon as it was light. A very expensive ‘boutique’ hotel had grab rails basically hanging off the walls and being held on by positive thoughts. Once, I booked an accessible room somewhere months in advance only to be told that they had sold all the accessible rooms to the local contractors that evening and I’d have to manage in a standard room. I kicked up a fuss and got free breakfasts, a free stay in future (never used) and free drinks while we waited for them to kick somebody else. I always complain when things are wrong and it’s hit and miss what response you get. If things aren’t to my personal requirements then okay – you can’t expect them to be psychic – but, seriously? Can you manage a standard room as all the able-bodied builders want the baths in accessible rooms? I’m not going to name and shame these places… just yet. I just don’t go back. They’ll miss my custom before I miss them.
Of course, that means I can’t congratulate the places I have stayed where the facilities are good, appropriate and access is treated as something that you just do as a matter of course. To minimise the risk of injury – and tantrums – I always, where possible, book with the same couple of chains. The ‘cookie cutter’ layout means every accessible room in all of the hotels are exactly the same. I know the grab rails are where I need them and the sink is of a proper size and low enough that a seated person can have a proper wash. The bigger bathroom cuts down on the room size though so it has to be arranged so you can only access the bed from one side. There is always a handy chair to put my wheelchair bag and footplates on. I just want somewhere safe and clean to spend a night or to.
Occasionally I look for a posh hotel to go to as a special treat. Many of them don’t even mention accessibility let alone tell you if they have rooms suitable for Wendys. Yes, I know I could always call and ask but, in my quest to be normal (HEH), I refuse. If they won’t even give disability the time of day on a piddly website they don’t deserve my business. It’s the same on hotel comparison sites. You go through millions of filters to find an accessible hotel on the few that have decided it is worth including us at all. If there is anything out there it generally has accessible facilities (meaning you can get through the door) not rooms. But, more often than not, one single access filter and suddenly there are no hotels matching your search criteria because places either can’t or won’t answer important questions. I can’t tell you why this is the case but I can say that it limits the places for me to go and have adventures. How much money could smaller hotels be losing out on from the disabled community because there is no relevant information available? There could be businesses that were or absolutely awesome at catering for people with disabilities but are crumbling financially all because no-one knew what they could offer.
I’ve got another few days away booked for April with my tried and tested chain. Basic, clean, safe and affordable. No seaside holiday in the calendar yet – that’s a whole ‘nother post there.