One of the most difficult challenges in planning my trip to Gibraltar was finding wheelchair accessible accommodation. While the local tourism board offers a list of accessible hotels, there is very little information on the type and level of accessibility offered. As a triple amputee and power wheelchair user, I can't afford to make sacrifices on accessibility in hotels. The Rock Hotel in Gibraltar proved to be just what I was searching for.
After making a reservation on the hotel's website, I called-in to request one of the hotel's two accessible rooms. I asked a few questions about accessibility, but the answers were not clear. Ultimately uncertain if the room would meet my needs, I traveled to Gibraltar somewhat blindly. Thankfully, The Rock Hotel exceeded my expectations and I now offer this in-depth review of the hotel's accessible accommodation. I hope it will help other wheelchair travelers find confidence in visiting the beautiful city on a rock.
Wheelchair Accessible Hotel Room #215
My room was on the second floor, with keycard access and an easy-to-open door. An elevator was available from the ground floor/entrance to the lobby level, and from the lobby to the second floor.
As is fairly typical in the United Kingdom (and apparently in its territories), the room featured two twin beds pushed together. While this may not be ideal for couples on holiday, there is some benefit when traveling with a personal care assistant. Plenty of open space was available between the bed and floor, perfect conditions for those who use a hoyer lift.
Power outlets above the nightstand were easy to reach, and provided a place for me to plug-in my wheelchair and personal electronics. If you are traveling abroad with a power wheelchair, remember to consider the higher electric voltages used in other countries. I traveled with my own step-up/down power transformer to safely charge my chair.
I was surprised and delighted to find a separate living room in my accessible hotel room. This was not a suite, though in many hotels it could certainly pass for one.
The living room included an additional television, sofa, refrigerator and access to the balcony. Yes, there is a balcony! While there is a lip between the room and outside balcony, a wooden ramp made it possible for me to access the outdoor space in my wheelchair. It was fantastic - take a look:
The views out over the bay and towards the surrounding mountains were unbelievable. Beautiful sunrises and sunsets are a bonus feature of the room. Watching the sun set on my first night made me think that, if I ever get married, The Rock Hotel would be a perfect stop on my honeymoon tour.
There are many important features that make up a wheelchair accessible hotel room, but the availability of a roll-in shower is by far the most important to me. Too often, hotels label a walk-in shower as a roll-in shower, which we know is not the case.
Fortunately, my accessible room at The Rock Hotel had a genuine roll-in shower with a handheld shower nozzle, curtains, a grab bar and a portable shower seat. I wish the grab bar had not been angled, but I can't complain about the accessibility otherwise.
In addition to the roll-in shower, the bathroom includes an accessible toilet with a fold-up/down grab bar. There is plenty of space to maneuver a wheelchair in this area of the bathroom, but a grab bar is missing from the far wall.
The sink is the one truly unfortunate area of the bathroom, as it is not possible to roll underneath the sink basin. You'll have to roll alongside the sink/cabinetry and brush your teeth while turned sideways. As I value an accessible shower more than a truly accessible sink, I was pleased with what the room offered - much more than I expected!
The hotel boasts an impressive restaurant space, along with a truly fantastic menu that "fuses influences from Spain & Morocco as well as modern British cuisine."
I enjoyed a roasted chicken breast with all the trimmings (I'm not an adventurous eater), paired with a glass of my favorite bourbon - Woodford Reserve. The cost of the meal was moderate - under 25 GBP. Because I only had three days in Gibraltar, I had only one meal at the hotel. I wouldn't hesitate to dine there again on my next trip, though!
Location & Transportation
The Rock Hotel is located on Europa Road, 3.5 kilometers south of the Gibraltar International Airport. It is a more manageable 2 kilometers walk from Grand Casemates Square, but portions of the route (particularly the last half-mile) are uphill. It's downhill in the reverse, though!
The hotel driveway (on Europa Road and pictured at left) is very steep, and manual wheelchair users will need assistance in climbing it. The drive has two ends - the easiest path up is on the far end (the exit for vehicles). My power wheelchair handled the trek up and down both ends of the drive okay, but the grade is steeper than my chair is "rated" for.
If you order a wheelchair accessible van, it can drop you off right in front of the hotel's entrance - the van can climb the steep drive, no problem.
Cost & Reservations
The first step in making a reservation for an accessible room at The Rock Hotel is to call and verify that the room is available for your dates. Gibraltar is a destination of several cruise ship lines, and the rooms are not always available. Once you've verified availability, book a standard room on the hotel's website at www.rockhotelgibraltar.com or make your reservation over the telephone. If you book online, be sure to call the hotel again to be placed in an accessible room.
My two nights in December 2016 cost a total of £229. The conversion from Great Britain Pounds to the U.S. Dollar was approximately $286.00 at the time. As you can tell from the pictures above, it was a great deal for a fairly lavish wheelchair accessible hotel.
Gibraltar is a city that was long on my bucket list, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to visit. The Rock Hotel served as a comfortable home base, and the nearby connection to public transportation made exploring the city very easy. Numerous attractions are only a short roll or city bus ride away, including Casemates Square, the Cathedral of Saint Mary the Crowned and Europa Point.
I highly recommend considering The Rock Hotel, which surely offers one of the most wheelchair accessible accommodations in the city of Gibraltar. Enjoy the fantastic views at dawn and dusk, and delight in all the city has to offer from a hotel built into the famous Rock of Gibraltar.