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PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Exterior of the Bethesda Marriott Hotel.The Bethesda Marriott is a newly remodeled hotel located in Bethesda, Maryland – a short distance from the nation’s capital. 399 rooms and 8 suites are spread across 15 floors of a hotel that attracts both business travelers and tourists. Located in close proximity to I-270 and I-495, the Bethesda Marriott is especially convenient for those traveling with their own vehicle.

I recently spent a night at this hotel, and was impressed with the accommodations in my wheelchair accessible hotel room. Although some construction relating to the renovation was still underway, it did not disturb my stay and I was assigned a nicely updated room.

Reservation & Check-in

Hotels in Washington, D.C. and the surrounding areas are expensive in the summer, because so many families vacation there. Facing room rates in excess of $300 per night, I decided to book my stay with Marriott Rewards points. I booked my room on the morning of check-in for 20,000 points. The website showed the following cash rate:

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Screenshot of the Bethesda Marriott website, showing the room reservation rate.

The Marriott website makes it easy to reserve an ADA accessible hotel room type, with just a few clicks required. I reserved a wheelchair accessible room with a king-size bed and roll-in shower. The website confirmed my request and that the room type was available. As I pointed out in May 2015, the Marriott mobile app does not allow you to reserve an accessible room, so you’ll need to use the desktop website or call the hotel directly.

Check-in was a breeze, and I was off to my room within a few minutes.

Wheelchair Accessible Hotel Room

Upon entering my guest room, I was pleased with the large amount of space offered in both the main living area and the bathroom. I’d like to share with you some of my favorite features of the room.

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: King size bed at Bethesda Marriott.

The king size bed was typical of full-service Marriott hotels – plush, inviting and comfortable. The bed sat a couple inches higher than the seat of my power wheelchair, but I was still able to perform the transfer. For those using a hoyer lift to aid in transfers, this bed ay not be designed to accommodate one. The mattress sits atop one of the newer platforms, but there is only 4-5 inches of space under the upper platform that extends over the true base of the bed.

Power and lamp controls on both sides of the bed were within reach, but I had to reach over my head. I had better access to the power plugs from the seat of my wheelchair. It was nice to have bedside power, though, because I didn’t have to stretch my wheelchair’s charging cord across the room.

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: TV and desk on wall opposite the bed.

A beautiful and large flat-screen TV hung on the wall opposite the bed. The desk area here was accessible, and my wheelchair was able to roll beneath it. A coffeemaker, ice bucket and mini refrigerator were placed on a series of shelves to the left of the television.

The bathroom was large and nicely accessible. The sink was safe to roll my wheelchair underneath, and I did’t having to worry about bumping my knees. The bath towels were folded and set on the sink’s countertop, and the hand towels were hung on a rack next to the sink. Everything was within reach.

The toilet was fully ADA compliant. There was plenty of space to park my wheelchair next to and alongside the toilet, which made transfers easy. Too many hotels have placed “accessible” toilets between two walls or barriers, but I am happy to report that the Bethesda Marriott is not one of them.

Grab bars attached to the walls behind and next to the toilet served me well, and were placed according to the ADA requirements.

PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Roll-in shower with seat bench at Bethesda Marriott Hotel.

The updated roll-in shower was nicely designed, with a built-in shower bench. The handheld shower nozzle and water controls were easy to operate, with a decent level of water pressure. Not the most high-powered shower I’ve used, but it did the trick.

I offered two recommendations to that hotel that I believe will improve accessibility and safety for wheelchair users in the bathroom’s shower. The first is to extend the grab bar to cover the length of the wall next to the shower seat. The second was to move the water controls closer to the seat, by placing them on the other side of the handheld shower nozzle. As someone who has no legs to provide support when I’m in the shower, leaning too far forward is an accident waiting to happen. It’s important for things to be easily within reach.

The hotel’s General Manager has said he will discuss making these changes with his team. I’ll be sure to update this article if they do.

Executive Lounge

The Bethesda Marriott has a fantastic club lounge on the lobby level. Access is available to those who have purchased a room on the executive level of the hotel. I received complimentary admission, which is a guaranteed perk of my Marriott Rewards Platinum status.

This was – by far – the nicest executive lounge I have seen at a Marriott Hotel (excluding the Ritz-Carlton properties) in the United States. The lounge is open 24 hours a day, and can be accessed with a swipe of your room key. The doors are automatic, so you won’t have to yank open a heavy door.

A diverse array of seating options are available in the lounge, including many tables that are accessible to wheelchairs. The snack bar, with soda, water, bagged potato chips, candy, fruit and more is available throughout the day and all night.

The lounge is connected to the hotel’s restaurant, and all lounge users get to take advantage of the buffet breakfast that is served there. The selection was quite large, and an omelette chef was on call to prepare additional options.

Location & Transportation

As I mentioned before, the Bethesda Marriott is better suited for those traveling with their own vehicle. That said, public transportation is still possible, and I used it to get to the hotel from Washington’s Regan National Airport. The nearest city bus stop is on Pooks Hill Road – right across the street from the hotel. This stop is served by bus route #30.

The most useful bus is #46, which stops on the corner of Pooks Hill Road and Rockville Pike. Bus #46 offers service to the Bethesda Medical Center metro station, served by the Red line. The hotel offers a shuttle van service to the metro station, but it is not wheelchair accessible.

The hotel’s concierge can also help you call for a wheelchair taxi.

Final Thoughts

Bethesda, Maryland is home not only to this hotel, but also to the headquarters of Marriott International, Inc. The Bethesda Marriott hotel is a great example of what the company is investing into its existing properties through extensive renovation.

My entire stay was fantastic – from check-in to check-out. The room was accessible and met my needs as a triple amputee and wheelchair user. I’m hopeful that the hotel with check off the last box by moving forward with the shower adjustments that I recommended. If and when that work is done, the Bethesda Marriott will be a great example for other hotels around the country.

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