Travelling can be a dream come true, but there’s one thing about it that can be a total nightmare – choosing a hotel, especially if you are using a manual or electric wheelchair. The number of choices seems to be ever growing, but not every hotel is as picture-perfect as it claims to be.
In fact, quite often the only dream-like feature of the hotel is its marketing strategy. Often hotels, which advertise themselves as catered to needs to wheelchairs users fail to meet the expectations of manual and electric wheelchair users. As I travel a lot, I have stayed in various hotels during my lifetime. While some of them were everything I could wish for, others were absolutely miserable. Trust me, a terrible hotel can really ruin a wonderful trip.
The good place to sleep in can be a nice beginning of a great trip, so how to make sure we know everything we need to know to choose the right place for our stay? The knowledge’s our power here. Below you can read about some of the things you need to know to make a choice you would be happy about. As they say “forewarned is forearmed”, so arm yourself with useful information, and choosing a hotel will suddenly become way easier.
First things first – to remember when you use a manual or electric wheelchair
Often you will be able to read about your hotel’s features online, but it’s never a bad idea to call or email the hotel directly. Some hotels may not update their websites often (yes, it still happens!), and some others may just lack the info you need. To find your wheelchair accessible hotel you can use special search engines. There are many websites to browse for hotels tailored to your needs: TripAdvisor and Trivago being some of them.
Questions to ask before you choose your hotel
It is very important to know what is behind the “wheelchair friendly hotel” badges some hotels claim to have. Here are some questions you can ask the hotel staff:
Is there a good working elevator, that will accomodate even an electric wheelchair?
It may seem like an obvious question, but the conditions of some elevators may be rather questionable. It could be a good idea to ask how many people can elevators take when they last went under the technical review, and how many elevators are in the hotel in general. Trust me, you don’t want to get to the elevator that may remember times of its inventor. Elisha Graves Otis put first elevators into use in 1857, so it’s better to learn history in museums, than elevators. At least from a safety and health perspective! The size is really important – you need to check if your manual or electric wheelchair will fit!
Do the rooms have light switches placed at the height of a wheelchair user’s arm?
Lowered light switches are an important part of wheelchair accessible rooms, so it’s never bad to make sure they are there. They should be at the level of the wheelchair user’s arms, not any higher, or lower.
Can beds or other furniture be moved easily?
Easily movable furniture definitely can increase one’s comfort. Arranging your room according to your needs definitely gives you more freedom, and it also makes your the ruler of the room. As long as you rent it, of course!
What floor are wheelchair accessible rooms on?
The lower the floor the better. Choosing the room on the first floor assure extra safety in case the elevator’s inoperative during the emergency. Better safe than sorry! Also, the closer you are to the staff, the faster they will come in a case of an emergency.
Are toilets adjusted to manual or electric wheelchair users?
Toilets should be wider and lower than average ones, so wheelchair users could easily access them. As much as it seems to be another must-have, it’s not always the case. Asking won’t do harm, and it’s easier to prevent than heal.
Do showers have a chair for wheelchair users inside?
The type of a chair is important to note since it’s supposed to be catered to your needs and preferences. Also, it’s always good to ask whether they have a bath or a shower. I know different people have different preferences when it comes to that, and sometimes no surprise is good news.
Are there any parking places that are wheelchair user-friendly?
Must-know if you plan to move around the city with your own vehicle instead of taxis.
Are there ramps next to the entrance?
Obvious, but you never know. It’s better to ask, so they don’t surprise you in a way you don’t want to be surprised at all. Sometimes the only way to get to the restaurant is by stairs, so make sure you ask them about it, too.
Does the hotel provide their guests with a device that allows them to fully cherish their stay?
All the features that I have mentioned above are a must. If a hotel doesn’t have them, then it is not allowed to call itself an accsessible object. Fortunately the competition in hotel industry is ever growing and fierce like never before. It’s a very positive thing for us, their customers, because our needs as disabled people are being taken into consideration. So if you plan to accompany your friends or family during the next vacation, ask if your hotel is able to provide you with a wheelchair that would allow you to actually spend time with your close ones for the whole time, not only inside the hotel. More and more concious and socially responsible hotels are buying devices like the Blumil so they can satisfy their guests like no other competition can.
All of these questions are important to consider when choosing your hotel, as they say, a lot about the hotel’s real friendliness towards people using wheelchairs. The closeness of the city centre assures greater mobility, so it is another factor to consider. Other things to remember about are wide door frames, grab rails in the bathrooms, lower sinks, taps that have levers, lower beds and bathroom doors which open outward. The wide door frame is a necessity. It happened to me that hotels doors were so narrow I couldn’t even get inside a bathroom, so don’t ignore the importance of wide doors. Some of the rooms may have alarms in the bathroom notifying the staff in case of an emergency and extra space next to the bed, so it’s worth to ask about such features.
Ask for photos
Words can be like honey to our ears, but photos make a better proof of what can we expect in reality. Always ask for photos if you can. They could also deceive you, but they still make a better base to judging the room than promises of managers alone. It’s worth to note that hotel chains are usually more wheelchair accessible than the rest of hotels. Read what happens, when the hotel was not verified..
The most important rule to remember is to be careful when you’re promised a paradise, because hell is just one lie way. All seriousness aside, be prepared to ask for information and you will find the right hotel sooner or later – knowledge’s always a key to success. Once you have a good hotel – you may enjoy the sightseeing!