I find myself confused about how a business can label itself as ‘accessible’.
Recently I have been having issues with Premier Inns across the UK. I book using their app, where it gives me the option to book an accessible room. However, on the last three occasions the rooms have not been accessible although they were allocated to me as being so. The latest one was yesterday in London.
I am disabled and unable to stand and I use a mobility scooter which is the same width as a normal wheelchair. When I arrived at Premier Inn (Hammersmith room 407) I was given a room with a walk-in shower cubicle in a normal room. It did not have any hand rails, there was no seating in the shower and my scooter would not get round the bed. I got trapped in the room and so I had to move the bed to get out of the room.
I went back to reception and explained the room was not accessible and so I was given another room. This time however my scooter got stuck in the doorway as the door frame had not been widened for wheelchairs so it was difficult to get into the room. I posted a video of this online and it has had thousands of views. The next issue was that the room had a bath. I cannot get in a bath. I went to speak to the manager and he said that this was their standard accessible room. I asked for another hotel but he said they would not know which hotels would have baths or walk in showers with a seat. The third issue was that I was not able to access the desk in the room as it was blocked by a sofa and my scooter would not fit down the side. The fourth issue was the doors on the 4th floor just outside of the lift. The doors were not automatic and were very small double doors and to get a scooter through you needed both hands. I had a friend with me in the room at the time who is also in a wheelchair and could not get through the doors by herself.
The first accessible room offered – no hand rails, no room in bathroom for wheelchair or scooter and no seat in the shower. This was not an accessible room.
First accessible room
My point is, these so called accessible rooms are being sold as accessible for the disabled but the people who need these rooms cannot use them because they are definitely not disabled friendly. Why is this company allowed to promote a room as accessible. Surely this is illegal?
Furthermore, if these so called accessible rooms are not accessible for people in wheelchairs, who are these rooms for?
Yesterday was for me one of my low points. I got so frustrated with the issue. I would have never booked this hotel knowing I was unable to use the facilities. I feel that I am no longer able to use Premier Inn hotels and I feel that I have been discriminated against because of my disability and turned away by Premier Inn.
Whitbread who own Premier Inn are trying to improve their hotels and make them more accessible for disabled customers. This indicates to me that because they are working to make their rooms more accessible, they know full well that their rooms are not accessible. While I congratulate Whitbread on doing more to improve access, this does not change the fact that they are advertising accessible rooms, misleading disabled customers in an unregulated situation and exploiting disabled customers, and it is not likely that disabled customers can book another accessible room elsewhere that easily.
I should point out that this is not just a Premier Inn issue but a hotel industry issue. It is not regulated or monitored and they can advertise themselves as accessible.