“Verify hotel accessibility in advance.”

That’s a lesson shared ad nauseam on this website, and it’s a necessary step to ensuring a positive guest experience. Accessibility is not universal, and even hotel chains that are typically very accessible have inaccessible properties that may leave disabled guests unable to get in bed, use the bathroom, or even enter the building at all..

As I wrote in what I believe is one of the most valuable newsletter articles, I Make Accessible Travel Look Easy — Learn From My Mistakes, I don’t always follow my own advice, particularly when it comes to researching hotel accessibility in advance. I spend hundreds of nights in hotels each year and would not have time for anything else if I sent queries to every hotel. I suppose you could say that I live life on the edge, taking risks in the interest of speed and spontaneity. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t, but I am seasoned enough of a traveler to be comfortable with a bit of uncertainty.

Bathroom with sink and toilet very close together just inside the entryway, with a narrow path to pass unsuitable for wheelchairs.
Bathroom in designated accessible room at Ibis Frankfurt Centrum Hotel.

This week, I booked a single-night stay in Frankfurt, Germany. While I have visited Frankfurt a handful of times before and stayed in some wonderfully accessible hotels like the Moxy Frankfurt City Center, I made a reservation at a new (to me) property from a brand I trust (Ibis Hotels). The accessible room was fine, that is until I opened the bathroom door and found the toilet and sink too close together for my power wheelchair to pass. Even if I had been able to enter the bathroom, there was no shower chair.

The hotel had no other accessible rooms available and I didn’t want to change hotels, so I got creative — utilizing a few pieces of furniture in the room, I made the bathroom “accessible” to me.

Hotel bathroom with a long wooden bench placed between narrow space and a plastic desk chair in the shower.
Furniture placed to create an “accessible” path to the shower.

I first collected a plastic desk chair, which I pulled and pushed into the square roll-in shower. Given that my wheelchair could not reach the shower, it was certainly not “roll-in,” but after moving a rectangular bench/luggage stand into the bathroom, it became a de facto “slide-in shower.”

Using furniture pieces from the room, I was able to create a makeshift route to the sink and shower. While I recognize that this improvised sliding board and shower seat would not have been accessible to most wheelchair users, I think it does illustrate thinking outside of the box to solve for accessibility barriers.

Although my ingenuity allowed me to use the bathroom sink and take a shower, the situation was far from ideal and the hotel is now on my personal black list — I don’t believe that inaccessible hotels deserve to be rewarded with repeat business.

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