Five Luxurious Hotels That Don’t Make Accessibility A Luxury
The Grand Master Suite at the Bio Habitat Hotel, Columbia. Photograph courtesy of Bio Habitat Hotel
At any given time, 20 per cent of people across the globe have some sort of physical impairment – whether that be hearing or sight loss, mobility problems and many others.
You wouldn’t know it if you picked up most travel magazines or visited hotel websites. The needs of disabled people often just don’t seem to figure in the travel world. But that absurdity is increasingly being addressed by hotels that are changing their approach to inclusivity in an increasingly positive manner. Few, if any, are perfect but undoubtedly the direction of inclusivity in the travel industry, as it were, is on the up. From in-house inclusivity champions to virtual pre-arrival tours so those with accessibility issues can check the place out, many luxury hotels around the world are taking steps to welcome whoever would like to visit.
Below are five hotels that take inclusivity seriously – though, as ever, we would recommend contacting the hotels in advance to discuss specific needs.
Castilla Termal Monasterio de Valbuena, Spain
Photograph courtesy of Castilla Termal Monasterio de Valbuena
The Castilla Termal Monasterio de Valbuena might be housed, as its name suggests, in the 12th-century Cistercian Monastery of Santa Maria de Valbuena – but it takes a forward-thinking approach to accessibility. As the hotel says, it wants all guests to feel welcome, which means a wide range of measure has been instituted in recent refurbishments. There are a number of wheelchair-friendly guest rooms, with specially designed showers and a fire-signalling system installed in the room and bathroom. All physical barriers have been removed in every part of the hotel, there are dedicated disabled parking spaces and all toilets are wheelchair friendly. The spa – with its thermal pool, perhaps the crowning glory of the place – is fully accessible with a hydraulic chair.
What to pack
Bio Habitat Hotel, Colombia
Grand Master Suit Bedroom. Photograph courtesy of Bio Habitat Hotel
Bio Habitat has the look and feel of a hotel that is wholly remote from the world, which, for some, can bring concerns as to accessibility, but it is actually a mere 20 minutes’ drive from the airport and 10 minutes from Armenia city. Two suites are directly accessible from the parking area, which cuts down on the hassle. And there are no architectural barriers – especially steps – between the restaurant, gardens (that feature orchards and fire pits), and the lobby area. The wellness centre, which is a five-minute walk from the main building, will have a dedicated golf buggy to ferry over those who require a lift. It is one of the more accessible hotels in this part of Colombia and great for those with a want for some adventure.
What to pack
Amilla Maldives Resort, Maldives
Beach Pool Villa. Photograph courtesy of Amilla Maldives
Resort hotels often can present problems for those with additional physical needs – the sandy paths, the jetty access points, the endless steps, to name just a few. Amilla Maldives has done away with all that to become the World’s First Accessibility and Inclusion Certified Resort. It was given this rating by Inclucare owing to the vast array of improvement it has recently made, including the removal of architectural impediments, accessible bathrooms, beach wheelchairs and floating wheelchairs for the pool. Leisure activities are also inclusive with adaptive yoga and snorkelling and sensory journeys through the jungle. There are also calming spaces with regulated sensory inputs for those on the autism spectrum or with dementia. A truly inspirational hotel.
What to pack
Hotel Brooklyn, Manchester, UK
Liberty Room. Photograph courtesy of Hotel Brooklyn
On the website of the Hotel Brooklyn, there is a special Accessibility Gallery, which allows potential guests the ability to virtually travel through the hotel and see what support features are available at all points. And, well, there are many because Brooklyn worked with accessible design specialists Motionspot to make sure the hotel was totally inclusive. Staff are all trained to support guests with physical, cognitive and sensory needs. There are also 18 specially adapted rooms with track hoists and wet-room bathrooms (in which guests can borrow and use a waterproof wheelchair). Even the tiles were chosen to reduce glare for those who are photosensitive.
What to pack
The Londoner, London, UK
The Retreat Pool. Photograph by Mr Andrew Beasley, courtesy of The Londoner
Designed by the international design firm Yabu Pushelberg, the Londoner hotel in Leicester Square is quite the one-off. Aside from its enormous beauty, it features a full-scale, two-screen cinema. It also happens to be one of the more accessible hotels in London. The first thing to note is that many hotels tend to use the less agreeable rooms for guests who have accessibility needs – not so here, where the 18 specially designed rooms have some of the best views. All have level wet-room access, handrails on basins, shower seats that can be adjusted and ceiling track hoists. Every floor of the hotel also has a wheelchair accessible toilet, which is sadly rare in London.