Hilton has a lot of fantastic hotels in London, including the wheelchair accessible Hilton London Paddington. Located just steps away from Paddington Station and transportation connections to the Heathrow Express, London Underground and numerous city bus routes, the hotel is one of the easiest to get to in the City of London.
I was transiting London this past November – flying into Heathrow Airport and connecting to the Eurostar train to Paris, and needed to spend the night in the city. While the Eurostar departs from St. Pancras International/King’s Cross Station, I decided to stay at the Hilton at Paddington Station, after finding a favorable room rate. It was also in a great area with lots of restaurants, bars and pubs, so it was easy to find a spot for a meet-up with some local friends. You can consult the London travel guide for additional information on the accessibility of public transport in London and at Paddington Station.
Reservation & Check-in
I made my reservation through the hotel’s website at www.hilton.com, but had to call guest services to secure an accessible room. The rate for my Monday night stay was £125 (~$152 USD), which I found to be quite the deal. I was confirmed into a room with a queen size bed and roll-in shower.
At check-in, I was mistakenly placed into an accessible room with a bathtub. The front desk sorted it out for me, and I was moved into the room type I had reserved. Unfortunately, it was significantly smaller than the first room I had been given, and much less accessible. I took photographs of both rooms, and will discuss the accessibility of both types (roll-in shower vs. tub) in this review.
Wheelchair Accessible Hotel Room #255
I’d first like to discuss the room I actually slept in. I’ll provide photos of the accessible room with a tub later in this article.
I mentioned there being an accessibility issue in the room with the roll-in shower, but that issue wasn’t in the bathroom. As you can see from the photo above, there is no space for a wheelchair on either side of the queen size bed. This meant that I had to park my wheelchair at the foot of the bed, and transfer into it from there.
The bed was also set quite high, about 5 to 6 inches higher than the seat of my wheelchair. This made the transfer quite difficult, and physically exerting. And, while the bed did have space underneath it for use with a hoyer lift, transfer lifts are useless if they cannot be positioned alongside the bed.
The room was small, and I am not sure that it should be sold as an “accessible” room. I should have complained to the hotel and requested some form of compensation, but forgot. It’s probably in poor taste to contact the hotel about an issue experienced months prior. That said, I will e-mail them the link to this review, in the hopes future guests with disabilities won’t be forced to deal with an accessible room that is barely accessible.
On the bright side, the bed WAS comfortable. And, power outlets were available above the nightstand. Of course, I couldn’t exactly charge my power wheelchair using those outlets, since my wheelchair was parked at the end of the bed!
On the wall opposite the bed was a nice and accessible desk area. The desk chair was on wheels, and could be moved easily to make room for my wheelchair. Power outlets above the desk were accessible, and this is where I charged my wheelchair.
Remember, if you are traveling outside the United States with a power wheelchair, you will need to consider the higher electric voltages used in other countries. I traveled to London with my own step-up/down power transformer to safely charge my chair.
Wheelchair Accessible Bathroom
Hilton hotels in the United Kingdom feature one of the most accessible bathroom designs I have seen anywhere. The Hilton London Paddington’s accessible bathroom mirrors the one I found at the Hilton London Wembley, and it is just fantastic!
The accessible roll-in shower features a comfortable shower seat that folds down from the wall. The design of this shower chair is fantastic, and I felt more secure in this seat than in any other I’ve used. A grab bar is affixed to the adjacent wall, and another folds down from the wall – meaning there are grab bars on both sides of the shower seat. Another folds down in front of the chair, so you’ll have something to hold onto on all sides!
The water controls are within easy reach of the shower chair, and the handheld shower nozzle is easy to use. The water pressure was quite strong, which is always a plus. Curtains surround the shower space, and are perfect for protecting your wheelchair from the water spray.
The toilet was well placed in the bathroom, and allowed plenty of space to park a wheelchair directly alongside. An abundance of grab bars affixed to all of the surrounding walls will help you make safe transfers between your wheelchair and the toilet.
The bathroom sink was also accessible, with plenty of space for your knees to roll underneath. All-in-all, I was thrilled with the accessibility of this bathroom – one of the best I have seen, anywhere!
The accessible room with more space and a bathtub
Now, for the room that I was mistakenly placed into at check-in. In contrast to the room I slept in, it had the amount of space one would normally expect in an accessible hotel room.
In the first photo above, you’ll notice that the queen size bed has room for a wheelchair alongside it. Power outlets are also affixed to the wall, right next to the headboard.
The second photo is of the accessible bathtub, which has a single vertical grab bar and an adjustable handheld shower nozzle. While I don’t ever use a bathtub due to my disability, I suspect it could use a grab bar that is affixed horizontally to the wall.
Apart from the differences shown here, the rooms were otherwise the same.
One last thing…
Because the Hilton London Paddington rests inside of an old building, there is no level entry into the hotel. The front entrance has several steps, which are not accessible.
Thankfully, there is an alternative entryway, just to the left of the main entrance. There are also steps here, but they are equipped with a stair lift for wheelchairs:
The lift transported me and my power wheelchair, with a combined weight of about 450 lbs. (~205 kg), without issue. That said, this was frustrating, as it forced me to ask for assistance each time I wanted to enter or exit the hotel.
A bellman happily assisted me each time, but this created a situation where I felt obliged to tip. I’m a big advocate of generous tipping to employees in the service industry, but I don’t like to be forced into awkward situations like this. In a hotel with level-entry and an accessible front door, this issue would never occur. It would be possible for the hotel to install an access ramp, and I wish they would just get on with it.
The Hilton London Paddington is a fine hotel, and I would consider staying there again if they can guarantee a larger room than the one I ultimately received on the stay reviewed here. The hotel’s location and access to public transport is a big plus, and it would serve any tourist visiting London well.