As a wheelchair user, I've learned there is nothing more important than ensuring your hotel room is somewhere that you feel comfortable. It should be your sanctuary, your safe place. It could very well be that the destination you're visiting will have unexpected challenges for wheelchair users, so it's important to make certain that your hotel room is a place where you can feel safe and rest.
Here are the tricks that I have learned to ensure that the room that I am staying in is right for me.
Find a wheelchair accessible hotel option
Use search engines like Expedia or bookings.com as a guide only. If they say a hotel is wheelchair accessible, contact the hotel to ask directly. It seems to be up to the hotel to say whether or not it is wheelchair accessible when it creates its listing. Even when as a guest you report the situation to the search engine, they seem unable to make the change and the incorrect information stays up.
Check wheelchairworld.org for user reviews of hotels at the destination. Other wheelchair users may have visited the hotel you are considering or they may recommend another hotel.
Make sure the facilities are right for you
Different wheelchair users have different needs so make sure you check for the facilities that you need. For example, some wheelchair users require a roll in shower. I personally have terrible balance so I absolutely need grab rails around the toilet, but I can just about cope with a shower chair in a bath tub.
From my experience, a lot of wheelchair accessible rooms do not have a roll in shower. If this is a deal breaker for you, this is definitely something to check out before you visit.
Contact the hotel directly
If you are telephoning somewhere that doesn’t have English as a first language, they may not initially understand your question about wheelchair accessibility. You may need to try a variety of terms such as universal room, handicap, disabled, wheelchair, or invalid.
Be aware of the time difference. If you are telephoning somewhere overseas, it is likely that the night staff will have the lowest level of English. To speak to someone with better English, call during the day their time.
Don’t be put off by a misunderstanding. If you speak to someone who doesn’t seem to understand your questions, or tells you there are not the facilities without seeming to have properly understood, try calling again at a different time, or ask to speak to the reservations team. Perhaps you are speaking to the front desk and you will get a different person in reservations.
Always ask for photos
Even if the person on the phone responds positively to your questions, they may not have completely understood your needs. Accessible rooms seem to vary quite a bit so you need to be sure that the environment that they have is right for your needs. A photo of the facilities is the ultimate goal as that allows you to make your own decision.
Finally, you might think that you know everything, and have done exactly these things before. This is what I thought too, but reading someone else’s list of things to do, I saw one tip that I had never before considered! And it definitely made life easier for me.
Make sure the hotel is in an accessible area.