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Finding an Accessible Hotel:
Ten Questions to Ask

Even in this day and age of improved accessibility, finding an accessible hotel room still requires a little research. Just because a property is billed as accessible, doesn’t mean that it will work for you. Asking the right questions before you book is the key to finding a property that meets your specific access needs. With that in mind, here are some often overlooked questions to ask before you make your next reservation.

  • Ask about the availability of accessible parking, and how close it is to the lobby. Also inquire about the surface and grade of the parking area and the front entry. Is it paved and level, or is it rocky and steep? Make sure there are no steps at the front entrance.
  • If you tire easily, ask for an accessible room near the elevator. In Europe it’s best to book a ground floor room, as many small hotels lack elevators.
  • If you have problems gripping, ask about lever handles on the doors and faucets.
  • There are no access standards for bed height, so always ask for measurements. If the bed is too low, request an extra mattress or travel with a set of portable furniture risers. If it’s too high, request a roll away bed.
  • Ask for photos of the accessible room, so you can see if the light switches, environmental controls and drapery pulls are within easy reach.
  • Ask about the position of the toilet grab bars. Are they on the right or left wall? Are they parallel or perpendicular to the floor?
  • Even if you don’t need an accessible room, ask if a portable shower bench can be provided. Also inquire about the positioning of the shower grab bars.
  • Ask about the toilet height. If it’s too low, ask if a portable toilet riser can be installed.
  • Find out if there is barrier-free pathway access to all the public areas, including the restaurant, spa, business center, conference rooms and pool.
  • Last but not least, ask if the hotel shuttle is wheelchair-accessible. If you have problems climbing steps, a lift-equipped or ramped vehicle is a much safer option.

Candy Harrington is the editor of Emerging Horizons and the author of Barrier Free Travel: A Nuts and Bolts Guide For Wheelers and Slow Walkers. She blogs regularly about accessible travel issues at www.BarrierFreeTravels.com.