How to find the right ones

There’s always that thought in the back of your mind that something could go wrong when booking a reservation for a wheelchair accessible hotel room. For example, often hotel websites show that they have accessible rooms, yet their features are limited and their definitions of accessibility differ. Or, in large cities travelers will find that 5-star hotels will have rooms suitable for wheelchair users, however they are not always in the desired location or within budget for travelers.

Researching wheelchair accessible hotels to fit your travel needs is a complex process that greatly varies among wheelchair users. Nowadays, most people tend to be more proactive in their search than in the past and know not to rely on the advertised “accessibility”. Having useful tools and tips on finding a wheelchair accessible hotel can prevent unnecessary problems and allow for an enjoyable, stress-free trip. 

Wengen, Jungfrau and Lauterbrunnen

RolliHotel.ch offers an efficient way to find wheelchair accessible accommodations in Switzerland. The search engine is provided in German, French, Italian, and English. It allows for people to search based on name or type of accommodation, classification of accessibility, and by region, town/city or canton. Therefore, you can perform a general search or search for a specific place or hotel you have in mind. Once you have clicked on a hotel, its contact information appears as well as detailed information on the accessibility of the accommodation:

  1. General information about the hotel in 10 categories, for example, type of accommodation and number of rooms.
  2. Information about hotel’s accessibility in 13 categories, like the distance to the train station, the number of handicap parking spaces and the accessibility of the hotel restaurant.
  3. Information about the hotel’s lift accessibility in 8 categories, including width of lift door and depth of lift.
  4. Information on the hotel’s rooms in 9 categories, for example, the number of rooms specially adapted to accommodate wheelchair users and the number of rooms which are “only” accessible to wheelchair users (but not specially adapted).
  5. The last two sections describe specific features of bath, shower, and toilet of the rooms specially adapted for wheelchair users and of the rooms “only” accessible for wheelchair users. The 24 categories include the availability of a sliding door, of grab rails for toilet and shower, as well as the sink and toilet seat height.

Accessible shower with seat

Overall, this comprehensive website allows for travelers to gain a thorough understanding of the accessible hotel’s in Switzerland. It provides important information that most likely would not be shown on other travel or hotel websites.

Although RolliHotel provides helpful information, travelers might have further questions to directly ask hotels to fulfill their needs. Various websites including mobility-advisor.com, curbfreewithcorylee.com, tripadvisor.com, and freewheelintravel.org discuss tips to help travelers on their search for wheelchair accessible hotels. Here are the most important tips from these websites: 

1. Browse online options.

This might seem obvious but is an essential first step. Check available photos of the accessible room and of specific features. This can help you to decide if you want to further contact a hotel.

Browse online options first.

2. Call the hotel and ask specific questions about accessible accommodations.

It’s best to book your reservation directly through the hotel to confirm the presence of features you found online and to ensure that all your needs will be met. Ask to talk to a hotel representative who is familiar with accessible rooms and ask questions that elicit information rather than a yes or no. These questions will vary according to each wheelchair user due to differences in personal needs and preferences. Some examples of possible questions:

  • Can you tell me about the accessible features of your hotel?
  • Which floors are the disabled rooms located?
  • What is the height of the bed?
  • Can you describe the accessible bathroom features?
  • Does the room have a roll-in shower or a shower seat?
  • Are there grab bars located around the toilet and shower?
  • Is disabled or handicap parking available?
  • What accessible activities does your hotel offer?
  • Do you provide a wheelchair accessible shuttle to nearby tourist attractions and public transportation?

Check out the room before you check-in.

3. Take notes of the discussions with the hotel representatives.

Keep notes of names, dates, topics, confirmation numbers, and what’s agreed. These notes can be helpful if there is any confusion or disagreement with the reservation. Also, take your notes and print outs with you when you arrive at the hotel for check-in.

There are still many other beneficial tips presented on these websites. They recommend wheelchair users to consider the accessible hotel’s location and amenities; stick with well-known hotel chains; reconfirm your reservation for guaranteed accessible room a couple days ahead of time; and when you arrive, check out the room before your check-in. Also, to help not only yourself but other travelers with disabilities, take pictures and post reviews from your experiences on the big travel websites.

How about you? Which questions do you ask before booking a hotel? Do you have any additional tips from your personal experience?

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