Out and About
1 November 2018
We were invited to the evening do of a wedding, so we booked a room at the hotel. At the point of booking I said I use a wheelchair, I was told there were no accessible rooms left but that they'd ensure I had a ground floor room. Not a problem it's only one night. No mention of the fact the hotel is not remotely accessible. On arrival I was not told of any access issues around the hotel. When it was time to head to the function room I was perplexed as the route to the room was down a large flight of stairs. I went to reception and asked how I could get to the wedding. I was told I had to go around the outside of the building, and through a side door to the function room. I asked what I would do if it was snowing and thus not possible in a wheelchair. Or if it was raining? And the receptionist said "I know..." That was it. So we headed outside to find the route was through a horrible back passage surrounded by bins, pumps etc. It also functioned as a smoking area so we had to go through the smokers. The door was narrow and I felt like I was less than a person - like I did not deserve to go to the wedding. The next morning we headed to breakfast only to find that the self serve breakfast was in the restaurant...up a flight of stairs. I asked how I access that room and was told there was no access. Instead a member of staff would get mine for me and I could eat it in the bar area. Again I was humiliated, we'd wanted to sit with our friends from the wedding but instead had to sit alone in the bar. It was so degrading having a member of staff tell me what food was available and to go and get it for me. I later found out he hadn't even bothered to tell me the entirety of the options.
I spoke to reception on check out, but they didn't do anything to address my concerns. I wrote to the hotel head office detailing my concerns. My biggest annoyance was that throughout the hotel there was more than enough room to have ramps or lifts, even if just the small internal wheelchair lifts. I offered various solutions and explained how this situation was not OK.
I felt degraded and humiliated. Like I was less than human.
I was given a refund for the room, but I explained my priority was to see changes made. A month later the hotel contacted me again after their health and safety meeting. They'd made some changes but they were superficial. They had not even bothered to address the biggest solution...lifts and ramps. I replied clarifying their duty under the DDA. I received a further reply that they would now consider lifts and ramps but it felt like it was just being said to appease me.
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If each hotel group would have at least one room in its hotel which had ramped access, a profile bed, ceiling hoist and a wheel-in shower and wet room, that would be a great start.The Severely Disabled person needs more than just widened doors and a ramp, which classifies only as "Disabled Access", which doesn't really cut it. The Equality Act 2010 requires providers of services and facilities to the public to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ so that disabled people are not placed at a substantial disadvantage compared to non-disabled people. Sorry, but that doesn't cut any ice with most disabled people's situation because not enough is being done in the hotel industry and the government needs to do more to ensure providers are not ripping off disabled people by offering non-existent or sub-standard facilities.
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