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A Lesson in Stress-Free Travel with a Disability

By Katherine  |  26 Oct 2018 12:00:00

We were recently invited to Spain with friends for a long weekend and booked an accessible room in the Barcelo Isla Canela Hotel (above) near their holiday home in Ayamonte on the Spanish / Portuguese border.

As a wheelchair user, I need an adapted room and the hotel boasts several rooms adapted to a high standard. We had booked the hotel directly and were guaranteed one of their adapted rooms so all was good… or so we thought! The day before we flew, we sent an email to the hotel, just to confirm that all was well but there was a mix up in communications meaning that we didn’t receive confirmation before we left but we felt sure that they would have let us know if there was a problem.

We arrived at the hotel at around 10 pm the following evening, but when we checked in, we found that there was a problem. The hotel did not have an adapted room for us that night, so we would have to stay in a standard room and they would move us across to the adapted room in the morning. Apparently, there was a technical problem with our room, which they said had ‘developed humidity in the walls’ - I know! Damp does not just appear in a wall overnight, so possibly, they had overbooked?

I am paraplegic and therefore do not have much balance when I am out of my wheelchair, so I need grab rails around the toilet and in the shower, along with a seat in the shower. But the hotel was unable to give us anything else that evening, so we found our way to the room, only to discover that the door to the bathroom was so narrow that I could not access the room in my wheelchair. I did my best to stay calm and went and checked out the adapted public washroom in the hotel lobby, which was thankfully clean and well designed so I had to use this and then return to my room to sleep.  

First thing next morning, they moved us into the new room and we put the experience behind us, but it was a stressful start to the holiday that we could have done without. We spoke at length to the manager in the morning, she was very apologetic, and I think that we got our message across that they could not do this again, to anyone else – ever, and if they guaranteed an adapted room, then they had to provide an adapted room and ensure that they had a contingency for "technical issues"! It was a lovely hotel and the adapted room was well designed, I would recommend it to other disabled travellers and hopefully, the hotel has taken our complaint onboard. On reflection, looking around the hotel, there were several other elderly and disabled holidaymakers but they all tended to use a walking stick or rollator, I seemed to be the only wheelchair user staying at the hotel, so I think that the hotel thought I would just be a bit infirm and could manage without an adapted room for the night. They did not consider the fact that I would be a wheelchair user with no use of my legs!

To avoid a similar experience, there are many holiday travel companies that specialise in accessible holidays for disabled travellers, which are well worth researching and using. They can offer holidays in tried and tested places to ensure that your holiday is hassle-free with no nasty surprises. Listed below are a few suggestions of accessible travel companies for disabled travellers:

We have in the past used Euan’s Guide which is a disabled access revie website, run by disabled people for disabled people and their families. At the end of your stay, you can leave a review of your experiences of places that you have visited in the UK and beyond.

Disabled Access Holidays is an online travel company offering accessible holidays, flights and accessible transfers abroad and in the UK.

Limitless Travel specialises in disabled friendly and accessible travel in UK and Europe holidays. They also offer wheelchair accessible tours, supported by their team of professional carers.

Seable provides accessible holidays for anyone with a disability, including the blind and visually impaired, specialising in relaxing holidays, accessible sports, wine and food tours and cultural excursions.

Blue Badge Style is an online resource for the less able discerning traveller, making recommendations on style, accessible venues (including hotels) in the UK and across Europe.

Tourism for All is a registered charity, providing disabled tourists and travellers with personalised information and advice service. They are not travel agents, but they help disabled people plan and take holidays and short breaks in the UK and overseas – with confidence.

Airbnb recently took over the accessible travel company Accomable and now provide accessible accommodation with Airbnb hosts that can provide special features for wheelchair users. By completing their online form, which has tick box selection for your requirements, the website then filters down the options to relevant properties that fit your mobility needs in the areas that you select.  Over time they want to expand their service to create communities for other travellers with other accessibility needs. is an online retailer, specialising in stylish mobility aids. Our products have a contemporary and modern design and we source our products worldwide, many of which are award-winning by design. Our product range includes rollators and walkers, forearm and elbow crutches, walking sticks and canes, daily living products for the house and home and a beautiful bathroom range which includes shower seats and stools, grab bars and rails and many other products that would also make thoughtful gifts for friends and family. If you would like any further information on any of our products, please get in touch via our contact page



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