Disability New York Stories 2017 Travel Writing

When The Accessible Hotel Room Is Inaccessible

30th August 2017

The obligatory shoes-in-airport shot.

The first thing we thought about when planning THE TRIP was finding a wheelchair-accessible place to stay on Long Island.

I love my Mom, but having three extra people in her house would not be a clever thing to do.

We thought about renting a room in a house, but couldn’t find a place accessible for me that was also kid-friendly.

Now.  I like staying in hotels.  I especially like staying in hotels rooms with bathrooms I can take a shower in.

So, we needed an ensuite family room with a roll-in shower.  Because I’m disabled and a mother. And since we were staying for a full two weeks, expense was also a factor.  And P.S.  Neil couldn’t drive while were there.  Because we all wanted to enjoy the holiday.

So a moderately-priced, accessible, family room within walking distance of cool things to do.

In the midst of our search, Mom phoned and said she’d booked us an accessible room at Danfords, close to her house and in the middle of Port Jeff, where I spent a bunch of time as a kid.

As for my kid, the hotel was next to the beach and a playground which Isla enjoyed very much.

The last time we were in New York, we had a night at Danfords as part of a Groupon deal, and thought it would be cool to be able to spend more time there.

Before that one night two years ago, Danfords was only a place to have brunch when I was a kid, and nobody I knew actually stayed there.

Now I know why.

Like I said, Mom booked it for us as a surprise.  And what a surprise it was.

Now, when I book hotels I know there’s a difference between fully accessible and accessible with assistance.

Mom was really happy when she booked us the accessible room, with a roll-in shower to boot.

I had day dreams about getting up and going out for bagels and then heading back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the day.  Y’know, like everyone else.

Our flight was delayed on the runway for what seemed like two hours.  When we finally took off Neil and Isla fell asleep, but I stayed awake.  For the whole trip.  As is customary, when we landed, we were the last to disembark.


Isla was unhappy with the flight delay.

I walked to my own chair using the back of the airplane seats.

‘Isla, wait for me, please,’ I said as Isla skipped ahead.

‘Tyler, wait for Mom’, said one of the flight crew.

In case you’re wondering, she isn’t rude.  She didn’t stop because that’s not her name.

Going through Customs has changed for me.  In the past I’ve gotten a ‘Welcome Home’ with my passport stamp.  This time the chat was, ‘So you live there now?’  It was bittersweet in a way I’m still trying to get people to understand.

We found Mom and then we found her car.  Neil put Isla’s USA-grade car-seat in the back and we drove off.  First stop was a gas station.  For snacks.  Isla chose Bugles.  Which we get here, too.  I was kinda disappointed.

We found Danfords without Siri.  Because Mom doesn’t have a mobile/cell phone.  Moving on.

I stayed in the car with Mom and Isla while Neil went to check-in.  He came out with a map.  Basically the hotel is a bunch of buildings put together.  Except they aren’t really together.

Our ‘accessible’ room was up a bunch of stairs with no lift/elevator.  We turned to each other and I saw someone chasing after us.  There had been a mix up and we trooped into reception to sort it out.

Because we were staying so long they upgraded us to a room with a sea-view.  Which was nice.  Except we actually needed the accessible room that Mom booked.  And when I rocked up using an actual wheelchair I think they actually shit themselves.  Issue was, the upgrade that nobody asked for cancelled our original booking.  And the room that we originally booked had someone else in it.

They scrambled to find us another room they thought was ‘big enough’.  The room could be the size of Texas, but if I can’t get into the bathroom, extra fluffy pillows mean not a lot.

When I saw the room they suggested, I thought the bathroom was doable.  I could grab the corner of the shower and turn around and sit down.  Until I tried to do it.

Now.  For me, I’ve never been in chronic pain.  I know enough people who deal with chronic pain to know that I don’t have it.

However.  Sometimes, when I am super-tired, like after a long flight for example, my body stops working.  And it stops working in a way that other people’s bodies may not.

Every time I move in a new situation, I have to think about how the transfer from A to B is gonna happen.  On a normal day when I’ve had sleep I can do things without much difficulty.

After a flight and stress and all that stuff, if A is my chair and B is a toilet without grab rails somewhere in there, I can’t do it.  In order to move a certain way, sometimes I have to tell myself to move.  Out loud.  I tried to use the bathroom with no grab rails.  I needed to twist and sit down.  I stood up, and said,  ‘Move’ and I couldn’t.

I actually wondered if I could give myself the same peptalk every day and it would work.

The thing is this.  I shouldn’t have to.  If things aren’t as accessible as they could be I usually develop workarounds.  But there weren’t any.  And I booked the accessible room because I needed it.

So we went back downstairs.  They said that the room I was in was all they had, because the original booking was cancelled in deference to the upgrade.  Which no one asked for.

And the room we booked was now being used by someone else.

‘Does that someone else need the facilities in that room?’  I asked.

I should mention I had to ask from my position downstairs.  The reception desk was up two steps.  I felt like I was in the orchestra pit at the opera.

And it did get a little operatic.  There were some jet lagged tears and some f-bombs.

Another thing is this.  In another life, before I had Isla, accessible travel was my day job, and my night job, and my home-life, too.  But it’s different when you have to advocate for yourself.  Just to be able to go to the toilet and take a shower.

After hours of travel, with the added stress of a family holiday that you’d like to go really well, but might finish before it started.  Because I was ready to get back on a plane, and we hadn’t even unpacked.

We didn’t get back on a plane.  The next day, we moved into another room, where we stayed for four days until the accessible room of our original booking became available.

I took a shower.  The detachable shower hose didn’t reach the marble platform I had to sit on at the back of the stall.  But I guess you can’t have everything.

And then there was that time we kinda got married again.  They were setting up for a wedding and the aisle was rolled out in front of the only accessible entrance to our room.  I tested out the aisle for the bride.  Congrats to the happy couple.

I did manage to get out and y’know actually enjoy THE TRIP and the hotel did knock 500 bucks off the bill.  Thanks, Danfords.

And yes, we would stay there again, but I would suggest a ramp up to the reception desk.  And replace your nice marble bathroom floors with a non-slip option.



What happens when the accessible room is inaccessible...




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  • Reply Gabi Coatsworth 31st August 2017 at 3:47 am

    I would have come to see you in Port Jeff if I’d known. I live a ferry ride away next to Bridgeport…

    • Reply Lorna 31st August 2017 at 8:37 am

      I did think of you, but it was mostly a family trip, and I didn’t feel like seeing new people in the first couple days. I know seven years isn’t new, but. Next time, I’m coming to your meet-up group, though! x

  • Reply Rachel Ritlop 31st August 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Seriously though, I’m glad you take initiate and stand up for yourself. And I’m glad your trip was still fun.

  • Reply Book Club Mom 1st September 2017 at 2:29 am

    So many challenges for you – things many people don’t even think about. Glad you were able to make the best of things.

  • Reply Allison Brown 1st September 2017 at 4:07 pm

    I can’t even imagine the frustration! Things that others take for granted become insurmountable when simple changes could have made such a huge difference!

  • Reply justine @ sunnyinjune.com 1st September 2017 at 5:56 pm

    i’m so glad your trip was still fun after all of that frustration. a lot of people are so focused in their own little bubble that we are our biggest advocates. <3

  • Reply annepeterson 1st September 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I guess when you don’t have some of the challenges you mentioned, you take them for granted. That was quite a place.

  • Reply Ritu 2nd September 2017 at 9:51 am

    Oh what a nightmare! At least you made the best of it!!!

  • Reply A Girl and Her Passport 2nd September 2017 at 9:59 am

    I can’t believe they thought you would want an upgrade when your mom probably specifically booked the accessible room. Someone wasn’t thinking. Sorry this happened.

    • Reply Lorna 2nd September 2017 at 11:26 am

      This’ll be another post, but the word was used was Handicapped, which is antiquated and means nothing.

      • Reply A Girl and Her Passport 2nd September 2017 at 11:46 am

        Please write that post. I feel like that is something I should know and definitely don’t!

  • Reply fancypaperblog 2nd September 2017 at 12:07 pm

    Wow it is so frustrating. I would have felt tearful too especially when you go to the bother to book everything properly. I am glad you all had some fun though x

  • Reply anhistorianabouttown 2nd September 2017 at 1:14 pm

    What gets me is that even though it’s their fault for giving it away, you were still the one who suffered. I don’t care that they told someone else that they could have the room, it was first promised to you- it was the hotel’s job to have that difficult conversation!!! ARGH, I’m so mad for you!!!

  • Reply Lisa Orchard 2nd September 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Frustrating! But I’m glad to hear you were able to enjoy your trip, even though you had challenges!

  • Reply gemmaorton 2nd September 2017 at 4:37 pm

    Such a simple request, an accessible room, but I know how this often gets overlooked. Who really knows what accessible means? Many venues sure don’t. I’ve booked and actually been given these accessible rooms before. Once somewhere had a roll in shower room so big that the bedroom was tiny and had single bed and bunk beds, perfect for myself and a carer. Not! And did you know all travel lodge (U.K. Anyway) accessible rooms are doubles. I’m not sure my carer wants to share my bed! You should have been given your original room. The mess up wasn’t your problem. Well, shouldn’t have been!
    I look forward to reading the ‘handicapped’ post. Oh how I hate that word!

  • Reply angelanoelauthor 2nd September 2017 at 7:22 pm

    This is a great example of how helping isn’t helping.
    Also, I think you asked the perfect question: does the person who booked the accessible room really need it? How often have I been put in an accessible room? At least five different times.
    Next time this happens, should I make a point of telling the hotel I’m happy to move?
    Sort of like agreeing to be in the emergency row on a plane, any guest in an accessible room (because the hotel put him or her there) should agree to switch to accommodate another guest.
    I think it makes a huge difference that they realized the mistake. It says a lot that you’d be willing to stay there again.

    • Reply Lorna 3rd September 2017 at 9:51 am

      I know hotels overbook, but it is illegal to deny an accessible/adapted room to guests who need one. Shouldn’t be the responsibility of other guests, hotels should re-arrange to accommodate everyone.

      • Reply angelanoelauthor 3rd September 2017 at 1:50 pm

        Agreed. Thanks!

  • Reply Shoot from the Trip 4th September 2017 at 7:42 pm

    It’s a simple thing to expect hotels to cater for nowadays but they still manage to get it so wrong!

  • Reply thebeasley 10th September 2017 at 11:34 am

    Rubbish & completely inexcusable not to mention incompetent. So glad you still enjoyed your trip. There’s so many useless hotels out there.

  • Reply SickChristine 10th September 2017 at 2:15 pm

    How completely frustrating. Want me to kick them in the shins for you? I will get in my car right now and drive all day just to kick them in the shins.

    • Reply Lorna 10th September 2017 at 2:33 pm

      Thank you, but no real-shin-kicking required. However. Tune in next week for I Drink Red Wine On Vacation. Might be related. Ha!

  • Reply Drinking Red Wine On Vacation – Gin & Lemonade 13th September 2017 at 4:52 pm

    […] When we got back to the hotel, we moved into another room.  Even in this one I couldn’t get the chair all the way through the bathroom door, but I was able to grab the counter and walk along.  The accessible room would be available on Thursday. […]

  • Reply katiebutpsycho 14th September 2017 at 2:48 pm

    It’s ridiculous that they would think it was okay to upgrade a room that was specifically booked for its accessibility. You have such a great attitude though and I’m glad you were able to make the best of the trip!

  • Reply Lucy Mitchell 5th November 2017 at 11:16 am

    This was such an eye opening post for me. The challenges you face are interesting but not insurmountable. Great post ??

  • Reply MindOverMeta 5th November 2017 at 12:35 pm

    So sorry this happened to you. Not sure why they would upgrade, because surely people book accessible rooms for a reason? And, the accessible room was up stairs?? Wow. I’m glad you were able to enjoy the trip in the end. I hope it’s smoother next time.

  • Reply fattymccupcakes 5th November 2017 at 11:20 pm

    What crap!! I hate that so often now hotels are really not in the business of serving or providing guests with an exceptional experience. It’s all about the bottom line and NOT customer service ??

  • Reply josypheen 6th November 2017 at 5:21 am

    This is so, so rubbish! I am annoyed on your behalf, even though it sounds like you made the best of it! They should have sent some wine as well as the $500 dollars off!

    What a nightmare. 🙁

  • Reply Blogging Re-Focus: The Same Gin, Only Stronger. – Gin & Lemonade 7th November 2017 at 2:11 pm

    […] like to talk and share more about accessible travel, and when it is inaccessible.  There will be words on wheels from my perspective, and I also want to continue to work with […]

  • Reply Ellen Hawley 20th January 2018 at 2:03 pm

    A disabled couple we know have had so much trouble with accessible rooms not being accessible that they bought a caravan. Which (American that I can’t help being, even after 11 years in Cornwall) I keep calling a motor home. But it doesn’t drive across oceans, so it only solves some problems.

  • Reply diana 23rd June 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Ouch! I get you when it comes to places that aren’t accessible, i’m blind so…I really get you. I wish you good luck for your next trip. Hopefully you’ll be luckier.

  • Reply Sheryl Chan 30th August 2018 at 10:46 am

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. Travelling with kids in itself is already hard work. To manage that on top of disability when things go wrong is really…not fun. I wish you many more wonderful trips back home with your lovely family!

    • Reply Lorna 30th August 2018 at 10:49 am

      Thank you, NY isn’t home, but then neither is Scotland. It depends on the day. And the people.

  • Reply Popping Wheelies 23rd September 2018 at 1:51 pm

    This is the traveler on wheels’ second worst nightmare. (First being that our chair doesn’t arrive safely.) It has happened to us, too. The most recent time we simply said the room was guaranteed and brought our suitcases in. “We’ll sleep in the lobby.” Suddenly the manager appeard, “Give us an hour.” He produced an accessible room and dinner. Usually it doesn’t go that well.

    • Reply Popping Wheelies 23rd September 2018 at 1:52 pm

      … appeared…

    • Reply Lorna 23rd September 2018 at 6:21 pm

      Yep, agreed. I stopped flying British Airways when my chair arrived home after I did. Once.

      Thank you for the visit, I’m happy to have you reading!

      • Reply Popping Wheelies 24th September 2018 at 10:23 pm

        Thank you. Here’s hoping Norwegian is as good as last time. 😎

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