A Simple Guide to Booking Hotels for Wheelchair Users

Booking hotels is always one of the most difficult parts of vacationing. Among other factors, you must consider location, price, amenities – and you have to find all of this information online, because chances are you’ve never been to where you’re headed before. As a wheelchair user, it’s important to put extra time and consideration into this process, because we have different and unique needs when it comes to finding accommodation.

When I travel, it’s not enough to simply do research and book a hotel based off of what I see online, because the word “accessible” can be interpreted in too many different ways. So, what should a wheelchair user do when booking a hotel? Here’s a simple guide:

booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide

Step 1: Browse Options Online

 

booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide

Trivago does have an in-depth accessibility filter

 

I know, I know – I just said that it’s not enough to simply research a hotel online… but this is still the best way to begin the process. Sites like HotelsCombined, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and more are excellent sources to find hotels in your desired location, compare prices and look up amenities. They often have great deals, too!

During this step, you can create a list of possible options, but before you get clicker-happy and hit that “Book” button, it’s quite likely that you’ll need more details… which brings us to Step 2.

booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide

Step 2: Call the Hotel

 

 booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide

 

If you’re unsure about anything you see online, or just to confirm what you do see, it’s imperative to actually call the hotel and speak to a representative. One time, for example, I called a hotel in Germany to make sure that they were wheelchair accessible. They told me that they were, but when I asked more questions, it became apparent that their only real accessible feature was an elevator!

This is the perfect example of how the word “accessible” can mean so many different things to different people. So, to discover what “accessible” means to the hotel you’re interested in, as well as to confirm the presence of any features you see online, it’s always a good idea to call… which brings us to Step 3.

booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide

Step 3: Ask Specific Questions About Accessibility

While each wheelchair user has different requirements and preferences, below are some questions to possibly ask when you’re on the phone with a hotel:

1. What accessible features does your hotel have?

If it doesn’t specify online, it’s always good to find out what a hotel means when they say that they’re “accessible.” You’ll probably want to ask more specific questions about some of these features (we’ll cover more of those below), but first you should get a general lay of the land – ramps, elevators, handicapped parking, and any other features they mention are good to know about.

2. What accessible features do rooms have?

Again, this may be specified online, but it’s a good idea to tally up and confirm the features each hotel offers. If you’re not satisfied with the answers you receive, or seek additional information, consider some of the specific questions below.

3. Does the room have a roll-in shower?

Remember my example above? Not all hotels that say they’re “accessible” will actually have features that many wheelchair users need in order to be able to function properly. This is why it’s essential to ask specifically if the shower is a roll-in one or a bath tub.

4. Are there grab bars located around the toilet and shower?

While grab bars are usually included in the definition of an “accessible room,” you can never be too sure, especially if you’re traveling to another country and you don’t know much about their accessibility rules and regulations. Thus, it’s always good to check about grab bars, and make sure that you ask if they’re provided near both the toilet and the shower.

 

 booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide

 

5. Is a shower chair provided? If so, what type?

Even hotels that boast roll-in showers don’t always have shower chairs… and even hotels with shower chairs won’t always have the type you need or prefer. This is probably one of the most important questions on the list, because what good is a roll-in shower with grab bars if you’re still not actually able to sit in a shower chair and use it?

6. How much space is under the bed?

In this case, it’s good to ask for a specific measurement in inches or centimeters. I usually bring a hoyer lift with me when I travel – a device that helps me get out of my wheelchair and into bed, and vice-versa. It must be able to slide under the bed, so I always make a point of asking for a precise measurement before booking a room.

7. Are the accessible rooms located on the first floor?

It’s best to be prepared for any situation. Elevators are obviously fantastic, but if the accessible room is a penthouse – or even just a couple floors from the ground – that won’t help wheelchair users in the case of a fire. Because of this, you always want to make sure that the accessible rooms are located on the ground floor.


booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide

Step 4: Ask for Photos of the Room

If you’re worried about the setup or how spacious the room is, it’s a good idea to ask for photos of the hotel’s accessible room. After double-checking that it’s right for you, you’ll feel even more confident when you decide to make a reservation!

booking wheelchair accessible hotels guide

So, what are the questions you like to ask before booking a hotel?

 

 

 

 

16 Comments

  • Veronica Miller says:

    I am always concerned about the height of the bed. I’ve been to “wheelchair accessible” rooms where the bed was way too high for me to get into. Thanks for the other advice…it is much appreciated!

  • Linda Matta says:

    Why ,why,most of us to not travel with a lift,so why make the beds so high,and if they are high,why can’t the remove the risers,last month we stayed in a place that the bed was 32 inches,I might think I am super woman,but it took me 3 times to finally THROW my husband into the bed,booked for 3 days left the next morning,after getting the run around about when they could remove the risers

  • Carol Banks says:

    I agree with Veronica. I need a bed that is low enough to transfer, so I end up staying only a few days most of the time.

  • Mitch Weiner says:

    One thing that I always have problems with in a hotel as someone with limited mobility and who uses a wheelchair is getting in and out of bed. The beds are always too high for to get into by myself. I’d like to see a stool provided to be for transferring in and out of bed to and from the wheelchair.

  • Alison Babcock says:

    How hard would it be to have a lower bed in some “Accessible” Rooms? At least. A stool won’t work for me. That’s my situation.
    But I have the problem of the height of the Bed too. I usually end up in a chair all night.
    All Disabilities are different. So, as stated before, there’s different definitions for “Accessible” Rooms. It would just be nice if they were “Accessible”.

  • Tene says:

    Yes, I too have just had to deal with the beds being too high. There should be some sort of standard in that case. Also, I like to check the bedbug registry before heading into any hotel. We wheelchair users have enough problems without adding that to our list.

  • virginia says:

    It’s not just beds that are too high ,its not enough room to get the wheelchair right up to the bed, and finding a roll in shower can be difficult,then its having space in the dining room for the person in the wheelchair & when you ask for the food to be pureed,its done altogether so it comes out like baby food,oh the list goes on and on.

  • Rosanne Goldman says:

    Toilets. The bane of my life when I am not at home! Most of them are squashed against one wall and I have gotten to the stage in my life that I need help on and off the toilet. The toilets are usually too low as well. What is your solution? Also, what about travelling by air and having to us the toilet? I cannot stand at all. I have not travelled by air for over 15 years now. Any comments?

  • My family and I will be taking a trip this semester and will be bringing my grandma with us. We are in the process of finding a hotel but need to find one that is wheelchair friendly. This article has some great points that I hope will help us find what we are looking for.

  • Morgan says:

    These are really great tips for finding a hotel that is compatible for someone in a wheelchair. You highlight all the important areas to consider when you are searching for the right hotel. It’s really important to think about these things before you book your room in order to have the most enjoyable, non-challenging experience when you’re out of town. Great resource! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Lori Christensen says:

    I’m just 2 years into this thing called a wheelchair and so traveling is still very new to me. Like most of the others who have replied, I’ve run into stumbling blocks such as the beds not accommodating my hoyer lift, the room space not being adequate to have both my power chair and the hoyer lift safely and…the list goes on and on. Recently, however, I had to make a trip to Denver for medical care and accidentally found a one-of-A-kind motel. The staff, when I called, not only were positive about their rooms being truly accessible, the proceeded to educate me as to why/how they were accessible. The owner of the hotel actually made sure there was room for all the equipment and the space under the beds in some of the rooms was deliberately raised to allow access for the hoyer lifts. The only thing I don’t like is that the rooms are on the 2nd floor…but they deliberately didn’t have guest rooms on the bottom floor. Because I’m not sure I can post the name, I’ve deliberately posted it at the end of this post. Thank you, Woolley’s Classic Suites at the Denver International Airport for thinking of me and others like me. Your hotel truly is one-of-a-kind!

  • Hey!

    So, glad to find this post.
    Yes, I must say that its very difficult for wheelchair user to travel all around the word.

    After reading the post post I must say that one thing that wheelchair users keep in mind is that before you even think about traveling somewhere new, use the magical powers of Google to locate a wheelchair repair shop in your desired destination city.

    And these tips are really appreciable and helpful to every one.
    Keep doing good work.
    God Bless U!

  • Thank you for the information , we ‘ll try the hotel message here hopefully we can be a pleasant holiday . Have a good vacation.

  • Our visitors really need this way , this way really helped us find the best hotel for our vacation accommodations . indeed each hotel booking sites but to compare a decent price we hard to find the best sites are trusted. I hope in this way can help us tourists.

  • Abel Tewolde says:

    Hi Cory!!

    WoW!!
    This is great information! This is an incredibly detailed and useful itinerary and post, this would be super useful to wheelchair users, fantastic work! You describe each and every thing briefly and i really appreciate your article.I think its not just easy to go on beds that are too high so you need to ask for all facilities before booking the hotel room. I like the suggestion of browse online. Internet is the best way to find the hotel of your choice. I do agree with you that we should call the hotel for more queries. Thanks for sharing this article with us. I will look forward for more information.
    Have a nice day ahead.
    Regards
    Abel

  • Gilbertmeyr says:

    Hlo…
    Thanks for the tips..You have some great tips here for finding the best deals on hotels. I agree with you, phoning the hotel directly is a great idea. I have heard that before, that hotels give you discounts to beat the online price.
    Though it is a great idea to look at packages, as well as be able to find the options where you can actually save when finding flights, then find the place to stay.
    Keep posting…

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