Family room not accessible to disabled families

Hotels Don’t Offer Accessible Family Rooms, Is This Discrimination?

Hotels Don’t Offer Accessible Family Rooms, Is This Discrimination? – Accessible holidays are already far and few between, it’s hard enough to find hotels that are “fully” accessible. Yet, this is made even harder if you have a family. Hotels, for whatever reason, do not offer “family” accessible rooms, yet provide family rooms for able-bodied families. By not offering these room types, disabled people with families are forced to book extra rooms.

The Equality Act 2010 suggests this is direct discrimination. So I’ve contacted 10 of the most popular hotel chains to find out why this is the case. My findings are below.

Family Rooms

Hotels Don't Offer Accessible Family Rooms, Is This Discrimination? - Long hotel corridor.

As a full-time wheelchair user myself, when booking a room I need a fully accessible room, however, I also have a daughter who travels with us. Now, finding an accessible room is difficult enough, especially when holiday companies claim to be “fully wheelchair accessible” and then you look at their pictures and find they tell a whole other story. Or worse, you turn up and only find out then. Yes, both have happened to me.

Hotels do not offer any “family” accessible rooms (well, none that I have found) for disabled people and yet have no problem in offering family rooms for able-bodied customers. Why is this I wonder? Do hotels already feel they have given enough floor space to accommodate disabled people? Or do they believe it to be impossible for disabled people to have a family of their own? Both are abhorrent thinking!

I recently visited family in Wales (I’m in London). We booked a room with Premier Inn. As they are one of the hotels that do not offer accessible family rooms, our daughter could not stay in our room. Luckily, other family members were visiting with us, therefore, we were able to book a family room for them and have our daughter in with them. This begs, the question, what if my other family members were not travelling with us? What/where would my daughter go?

When you are disabled and have a family, being forced to book an extra room for your children is not only a parent’s worse nightmare but this can make a family hotel room “double” in price. With new Government rules/regulations around school term holidays, can you imagine how much this would cost at peak times? A hotel stay (1 room) can jump from approx £600 to £1200 for a few days stay. I wonder what non-disabled customers would say about this if they had to pay for two rooms as family rooms were not offered? I’m sure they too would have something to say about it!

Contacted Hotels

I contacted the above hotels all on the same date (10/7/21) asking if they do in fact offer accessible family rooms, my email:

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am contacting you today to enquire about family wheelchair accessible rooms.  As a full-time wheelchair user, I find accessible rooms are far and few between as it is but accessible “Family” rooms seem to be non-existent!  Why is this? 

When booking a hotel room, I am unable to find any accessible family rooms. This means I am forced to book a second room just for my daughter.  This then makes my hotel bill double in price.  This is not the same for able-bodied customers as hotels seem to offer plenty of “family” rooms that are not classed as “accessible! 

This puts disabled people with families at a major disadvantage compared to able-bodied families, both financially and physically.

I am writing to enquire if any of your hotels offer wheelchair-accessible family rooms.  If not, do you have any alternatives in place, like offering a second room at a reduced rate or even for free?   Do you have other alternatives are in place if not, how do you let your disabled customers know this?  If you do not offer wheelchair-accessible family rooms or any alternatives, what is the reason for this?

I look forward to your reply.

Hotel Responses:

Premier Inn – I found Premier Inn to be the most helpful and most willing to help, they say: “We are able to add additional beds into our accessible rooms to make them into family rooms upon guests request. Where this isn’t possible and we aren’t able to accommodate guests in one room we will offer a second room for free and will always try to make this an interconnecting room to the accessible room.” 

Since receiving their reply, I have booked a room where they have said an extra bed will be put in their accessible room at the hotel I am staying at. So fingers crossed, all will go well. So far, they have done what they say they would.

Travelodge – “Thank you for contacting Travelodge.

At Travelodge we take our commitment to equality of access very seriously. 

We do give great consideration to the accessibility of our hotels and make every effort to make reasonable and practical adjustments to support the varying needs of our customers.

Having adopted and complied with well recognised national standards we consider that we are meeting our obligations to disabled customers under the Equality Act 2010.

Whilst facilities offered across our locations do vary due to the age and type of construction every consideration is given to accessibility and should you ever want details of the provision at a specific hotel this can be obtained from the hotel itself. For example accessible rooms in our newer properties are equipped with walk in wet room showers.

The Bed base from the ground is 25cm
Bed base and the mattress together is 49cm
The Bed fully made is around 52cm  

I hope this helps”.

Best Western – No response!

Ibis Budget/Styles –Thank you for reaching All Accor Live Limitless Customer Care support. First, I truly apologize for the inconvenience. I am coming back to you following your request regarding wheelchair-accessible family rooms. I am not able to reply directly, so I have allowed myself to forward your email to the ibis Fes hotel which will take care of your demand. They will return to you as soon as possible“. I’m still waiting

Novotel – No response!

Holiday Inn – No response!

Britannia Hotels – I contacted the hotel directly in wales as I was looking to book here for a few days, (until I read the reviews). This was their reply:

Thank you for your message.
The Grand Hotel in Llandudno has 2 accessible rooms which have 2 single beds in each room. These rooms have walk in showers with a small step into the cubicle. Unfortunately, we do not have any rooms that have a wet room.
If you would like to book please contact Reservations on 0161 923 0300 and then will be able to give you rates and check availability.

Kind regards

So this is what they call accessible: These rooms have walk in showers with a small step into the cubicle. Not wheelchair accessible then!! Glad I wasn’t staying here.

Marriott – They responded with a brush off but at least they responded I suppose:

Thank you for contacting Marriott Bonvoy™ Customer Care. It is my pleasure to assist you today.
Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience caused and I can certainly understand your frustration.
Please call our reservation line toll free, 24 hours a day at 1-888-236-2427. One of our dedicated associates will be happy to help you with your upcoming travel”.

Hilton Doubletree – No response!

Ramada – “Thank you!  We’ve received your message.  We will respond within 24 – 72 hours.  We are currently experiencing a higher than normal volume, your patience is greatly appreciated.”

I’m still waiting!!

Hotels Don’t Offer Accessible Family Rooms, Is This Discrimination?

Family room not accessible to disabled families

According to the Equality Act 2010, they say this:

“What is direct disability discrimination? (changed)

Direct discrimination occurs where, because of disability, a person receives worse treatment than someone who does not have a disability. This provision is intended to stop people being denied a service, or receiving a worse service, because of prejudice”. 

“What is discrimination arising from disability? (new)

Discrimination arising from disability occurs when a disabled person is treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability and the unfavourable treatment cannot be justified.  Discrimination arising from disability is different from direct discrimination. Direct discrimination occurs when a service provider treats someone less favourably because of the disability itself. In the case of discrimination arising from disability, the question is whether the disabled person has in practice been treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability”.

So, the question is, are disabled people receiving worse treatment than non-disabled people if hotels are not offering accessible family rooms? If the hotel offers no alternative for a disabled family and they have to book an extra room because of this treatment, then I believe the answer is most definitely has to be a yes! But, if an alternative solution is offered, then direct discrimination has not taken place.

Are disabled families treated unfavourably because of something connected with their disability? I believe yes! Why? Because as a non-disabled person, you have multiple options available when booking a hotel room, single, double, suite & family. Disabled people have one option, Accessible! So when travelling with your family, how do you cater for them if the hotel won’t offer anything more than a standard accessible room?

What reasonable adjustments do you have to make for disabled people? (changed)

Service providers are required to make changes, where needed, to improve service for disabled customers or potential customers. There is a legal requirement to make reasonable changes to the way things are done (such as changing a policy), to the built environment (such as making changes to the structure of a building to improve access) and to provide auxiliary aids and services (such as providing information in an accessible format, an induction loop for customers with hearing aids, special computer software or additional staff support when using a service).

When a hotel refuses to offer an alternative solution, they are in breach of the Equality Act 2010! Simple as that!

Further help

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the statutory body established to help eliminate discrimination and reduce inequality. It will issue a statutory Code of Practice explaining in more detail the law in relation to service provision and discrimination. It also produces a range of material providing practical guidance on how to comply with the law. www.equalityhumanrights.com 0845 604 6610.

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Cazbarr is a full-time wheelchair user, who was born with a disability called Arthrogryposis. Primarily she blogs about her disability, her experiences holidaying as a full-time wheelchair user, along with products & service reviews.

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