A Nightmare for Accessibility: My Experience at Hilton Metropole Brighton – My daughter and I stayed here for a weekend convention. We were looking forward to staying here as it looked very grand and all the rooms had just been renovated. Unfortunately, this is probably one of the worst hotels for accessibility that I have stayed at!
Lifts were too narrow, no heating around the hotel and the restaurant was not available. Renovations happening and raised thresholds in all the doorways. The list goes on and on! My accessible room only had two accessible features: A wet room and red alarm cords.
We had this weekend booked months in advance as it was a convention for our favourite show (Supernatural) and one of the main stars was going to be there. Excited is very much an understatement of how we were feeling.
Our first issue was parking! We could not use the hotel own’s car park as my van (WAV) would not fit in the underground car park. This meant we could not benefit from the discount offered by the convention organisers. Also, hubby had to take us & pick us up as parking anywhere else was just too expensive! Prices of other car parks are anything from £25 a night!
The entrance to the hotel was very difficult. There was a ramp up to the main revolving door. There was a single door on either side of the revolving doors but these were very narrow. When we arrived, both these doors were locked. My daughter had to go into reception to ask for some help. The first door opened inwards, then directly after that, a second door opens towards you before you enter the foyer. Very difficult to do if you were on your own.
Once inside, first impressions are good. The hotel looks very clean and upmarket. Check-in was easy, I can’t fault the staff in any way, they are all very polite, friendly and helpful. The hotel is advertised as having 340 rooms. When I spoke to the hotel, I was told they have 9 accessible rooms but don’t quote me on that as at the time they were being renovated and things may have changed.
The hotel features advertised:
- Connecting Rooms
- Digital Key
- On-site restaurant
- Indoor pool
- Fitness centre
- Pet-friendly rooms
- Room service
- Meeting rooms
Available accessible features include:
- Accessible meeting rooms
- Audible alerts in elevators
- Bathroom doors at least 32 inches wide
- Bedroom doors at least 32 inches wide (812 mm)
- Braille elevator
- Cutlery with oversized or adapted handles
- Digital alarm clock available with sound and a vibrating pad
- Disabled parking
- Elevator buttons lowered
- There’s an Emergency Call Button on the Phone
- Emergency pull cords bedside bed & bathroom
- Evacuation chair is available to help evacuate a disabled person
- Grab bars in the bathroom
- Hotel complies with ADA Guidelines
- Induction Loop System available at reception & in meeting rooms
- Inflatable chair is available to assist in getting in and out of a bath
- Large Print Menus
- Level or ramp entrance into the building
- Lowered emergency evacuation instructions
- Public Areas/Facilities accessible for physically challenged
- Roll-in Shower
- Rooms accessible to wheelchairs (no steps)
- Serv support animals welcome
- Strobe alarms
- Swimming pool hoist for pool access
- Vibrating fire alarm available
- Visual alarm for hearing impaired/Visual alarms for hearing impaired in hallways & public areas
- Wheelchair ramp for lobby/reception access
Some of their accessible features need reassessing, for example. Their disabled parking is not accessible to WAV drivers. The lifts were far too small, ok you can access them but if you’re a wheelchair user, there is only room for you and one other person. Grab bars in the bathroom for me were useless!
We found the lifts in the foyer to be extremely small in size, there were two of them. Actually we found all the lifts to be very small. It didn’t help they all have floor-to-ceiling blankets on all sides as part of the hotel was still being renovated. My daughter and I just fitted into them! My wheelchair is a small chair (16×16), I don’t know how anyone using the lift in a bigger chair managed it.
Due to the layout of the hotel and our room being on the 2nd floor, this made navigating around the convention very tiring and time-consuming. We would have to take a lift down to the foyer, which at times took forever. Then travel around to the back of the hotel to another lift (which was smaller again) to get upstairs to the mezzanine floor (foyer lifts didn’t go to that floor). Again, this could take forever as all attendees are practically leaving and arriving to/from talks, photo ops, autograph sessions etc. at the same time,
I found the hotel was cold throughout the whole weekend. This played havoc with my chest and circulation in my legs. The only time I was warm was when I was in bed, which I have to say was rather comfy.
There were doorway thresholds throughout the hotel and in our accessible room, which were all raised causing you to bump over each one and some were more violent than others. I have a powered chair and found them difficult and painful.
I found the room to be inadequate as far as accessibility goes. I encountered many issues with our room considering the hotel has just had a complete renovation in all its rooms:
- Raised thresholds in doorways causing pain in my back
- No table at wheelchair height – One large round table at knee height. Also prevented safe transferring on/off the bed
- Not enough grab rails – One on each side of the shower seat but quite low, none at a higher level
- Grab rails chrome & round – This made them slippery and difficult for me to grab. A silicone cover needs to be added
- Dim lighting – The room was very dark – The only lights were the two bedside lamps and a lamp in the corner of the room and one just inside the room door (overhead). Windows didn’t let in much light either
- Safe at the top of the wardrobe, too high for a wheelchair user
- No clothes rail at all – In what I assumed to be the section of the wardrobe meant for hanging clothes, there was no rail, so you couldn’t hang anything at all
- The bedside table blocked access to the wardrobe – The wardrobe was in the corner of the room. There was a bedside table in between that prevented access to the wardrobe
- Light switches too high
- The room was at the end of the corridor in the corner making it difficult to use the key card and open the heavy door
- Room temperature control not accessible by a wheelchair user – This was sat against the wardrobe and as the round table also sat next to the wardrobe, again it prevented access
- The bathroom mirror is too high
- No finger basin/sink close to the toilet
I can not fault the hotel staff in any way (shame can’t be said about a certain member of staff from the convention side). Every member of staff I interacted with was polite, friendly and willing to be as much help as possible.
One member of staff from reception (I wish I had got her name), was absolutely lovely as she went out of her way to get me a table I could use in my room. This made all the difference to my being able to function in the room from taking my medication, drinking, eating & brushing my hair.
Their Salt Room wasn’t open and their advertised on-site restaurant was only open for breakfast. I was told the restaurant was only for special bookings and had to be made 48 hours in advance. The bar serves afternoon tea and all-day casual dining. I personally found the food choices in the bar to be poor and not sufficient enough to be the only place to have a meal all over the weekend. The only other food we had were food huts upstairs when things were happening convention-wise, which served hot dogs & burgers.
I felt the food was very overpriced and what we didn’t know, was that the bar was adding a 12.5% service charge to every order. There was supposedly a sign up at the bar, not helpful for those having table service.
Breakfast was held in the main restaurant. There was any amount of food you could wish for, from toast and cereal to a full English breakfast, all buffet style. Tea, coffee and juices were also available.
The hotel is very clean, with nice enough decor (not my taste). Breakfast was very good but a shame nothing substantial to eat for dinner. Considering this hotel has just had all its rooms renovated, you would think this would give them the perfect opportunity to get accessibility spot on. Instead, it is practically non-existent. I also spent the whole weekend frozen! For these reasons, I would never stay here again!
I’m due to stay in their Birmingham hotel for another convention later this year, I have been assured by other convention goer’s that the Birmingham one is much more accessible and better on the whole. Fingers crossed.