Simply Emma | One of the UKs Leading Disability Travel Resources
One of the UKs leading disability bloggers - providing comprehensive reviews & advice on accessible travel. Simply Emma as a way of sharing my experiences living with a physical disability as well as the other aspects of my life. Focussing on accessible travel and live music events from a wheelchair user’s perspective.
Last month we headed down to Manchester to see the amazing Dermot Kennedy at Albert Hall. We had been looking forward to this gig for such a long time so we were pleased he didn’t disappoint nor did the venue. Everything from preshow communication, to the excellent venue staff and accessibility throughout the venue, were all top class. Here is my wheelchair accessible review of Albert Hall Manchester.
Booking Accessible Tickets At Albert Hall Manchester
“Albert Hall Manchester prides itself on being accessible to everyone.” There is a great section on their website dedicated to accessibility. It provides everything from booking tickets, what to expect on the night and the facilities. The process for booking accessible tickets is straightforward as you can book a standard ticket online and then fill out the online Access Requirements Form to let the venue know your access requirements. You can request a free PA ticket when filling out the form.
Last year we had tickets for Dermot at Liverpool, but unfortunately, the day before the gig the venue got in touch to let us know the venues lift had broken down. We were devastated especially as we couldn’t attend the Glasgow gig because the venue wasn’t wheelchair accessible. Dermot’s manager heard about it and offered us tickets to another show. We picked Manchester and couldn’t wait for the gig. It was exciting to be on Dermot Kennedy’s guest list. Thank you to his amazing tour manager for organising it all.
Arriving at Albert Hall Manchester
We were staying at Crowne Plaza Manchester Oxford Road for two nights which was very close to the venue. As soon as we approached the Albert Hall, we noticed there were people queuing up waiting to enter. One of the security spotted us straight away and asked if we were here for the gig. He immediately took us around the building to the accessible entrance.
The accessible entrance does have steps but then the amazing stairclimber appeared.
Stairclimber at Albert Hall Manchester
I was completely aware before arriving that I would be using a stairclimber to access the venue. The website clearly explains this along with details of the machine and the weight capacity which can accommodate 200kg.
The super lovely door supervisor, Tom was the one operating the stairclimber. He explained how it would work and helped guide me on it and secured my wheelchair in place. There was also the lovely Clare who helped Tom and stood at the front of me, holding my chair and making sure everything was OK.
They were both great, chatting away and making me feel comfortable the entire way up. The stairclimber took around twenty minutes to climb the stairs, but it didn’t feel that long. I think Tom and Claire being so nice and chatting to me made the experience easier and relaxed.
The accessibility area is on the second floor with 52 steps between the two floors. Each landing Tom would manoeuvre the stairclimber and line it up with the next set of stairs. I felt completely secure and the headrest helped support my head when tilted back.
Once at the top of the stairs, Tom unclipped the belts and held my shoulders back while I drove off the stairclimber to save me from falling forward because I don’t have any trunk control.
The stairclimber can look a little scary to some people, but I honestly thought it was great and not as daunting as it looks. It is amazing Albert Hall Manchester have the stairclimber to enable wheelchair users to access the building and attend gigs.
There are so many listed buildings that we haven’t been able to attend because there is no lift. It would be fantastic if they got a stairclimber like Albert Hall Manchester.
Barrowland in Glasgow is an example of this. There have been countless gigs we’ve missed out on because they aren’t wheelchair accessible. They now have a stairclimber but it can only accommodate manual wheelchairs, powered wheelchair users, like myself, still cannot attend.
This was one of the reasons we choose Albert Hall Manchester to see Dermot Kennedy because I couldn’t attend his Barrowland gig. Instead, we chose to drive the 500 miles round trip to see him in Manchester at an accessible venue that caters for powered wheelchairs. Well done Albert Hall Manchester.
Accessible Seating at Albert Hall Manchester
When we got to the top of the stairs, the lovely Em was waiting for us. Em was in charge of the accessible and VIP seating area.
Em had already asked some people to move before I got off the stairclimber, which was helpful and made it much easier when driving in. We were shown to our spot which Em made sure would give us the best view. Thank you!
Em explained everything to us and was always within view if we needed anything. She was very attentive and fully aware of everything that was going on and making sure no one was blocking our view.
There was a drinks runner the whole night so whenever we wanted a drink he would take our order and bring it back to us. Amazing!
During the gig, Em asked if I’d like anything from the merch stand. She explained everything that was there and even offered to go down and take photos on her phone to make it easier to see and decide what I’d like. This is the first time this has ever been offered to me at a gig and I really appreciated it. I choose a long-sleeved tour t-shirt. Thanks to Dermot’s manager for hooking me up with this. I love it!
Emma with Tom, Clare and Em at Albert Hall Manchester
A massive thank you to the amazing accessibility team at Albert Hall Manchester. They were all fantastic, friendly and so helpful. In particular a big shout out to Em, Tom and Clare who helped assist in getting me in and out of the venue via the stairclimber and looking after us in the accessibility area. Staff can make or break an experience, but it was lovely to meet them and they are another reason I’d happily visit Albert Hall again.
I was also super impressed with the communication and quick responsiveness from Charli the supervisor and accessibility coordinator. Charli always got back to my emails leading up to the gig, answering all my questions and even came to meet us on the night to ensure everything was alright. Great customer service from all the staff and accessibility team we encountered. Brilliant!
The accessible toilet was much bigger than I expected. I love when that happens. The toilet is on the other side of the accessible area. Although the staff said they’d help clear a path for me to get to the toilet, I decided to wait until the show had ended to use it as it seemed easier and saved having to get people to move mid-show. Other than the usual accessible features like grab rails, space for manoeuvring etc, there were toiletries including deodorant, hand cream and female sanitary products placed on the shelf and inside a box. Nice little touches that make a difference. Oh and the toilet had a RADAR key, which was great.
Video of The Stairclimber In Action
We were really excited to try the stairclimber for the first time and I was excited to share my experience with anyone who has never seen it in action so we decided to film it. I hope it helps give you an idea of what it is like to use the stairclimber.
AMAZING Wheelchair Stairclimber at Albert Hall Manchester - YouTube
Dermot Kennedy is quite simply outstanding. We’ve been waiting for such a long time to see him perform live, but all I can say is wow. He was absolutely worth the wait. Such an incredibly talented singer-songwriter and musician. Every song is performed at 200% and the power in his voice is unbelievable. Please go check him out as I’m sure you will agree.
Dermot’s set and lights all complimented each other to create an amazing atmosphere. The beautiful venue with its stained glass windows, high ceilings added that extra intimate feel. During his set, Dermot actually stopped playing as there were two people causing a bit of a bother, standing up and causing a nonsense to the people around them not to mention distracting Dermot due to being in his eye line. Dermot explained that people should be considerate of others around and behind them, and not to block anyone from seeing the show by standing up. I couldn’t have been happier at that moment. Dermot gets it!
Job hunting can be one of the most daunting and frustrating things for anyone to do. When you have a disability, it can be even more difficult with extra challenges and barriers. Thankfully there are schemes in places to help as well as specialist equipment, legislation and improved employer attitudes and awareness. These can help when finding a job with a disability.
However, there are still many who believe the outdated stereotype that disabled people are incapable of working.
When in fact, there are one million disabled people in the UK who are able and want to work. Despite their ability and willingness to work, disabled people are more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people according to research carried out by the disability equality charity, Scope.
My Pre-Employment Experience
I left High School with great grades and although I knew I wanted to go into further education, I struggled to know what path to go down. I enjoyed art and Graphic Communication at school, but I couldn’t see myself doing that as a job.
Low self-confidence was possibly the biggest factor in this as well as a lack of confidence in my physical ability at the time.
Having already experienced leaving school and at the time being a disabled college student herself, my older sister was the best person to help guide and advise. Often spending hours going through the college prospectus with me.
Eventually, I settled on doing a Business Studies course at my local college. Two years later I graduated, but again I was back to square one. What will I do now? Will I look for a job or continue with my studies? My college professor was very adamant that I went onto university. She gave me the reassurance that I could absolutely do it.
There was still that nagging voice in the back of my mind telling me I couldn’t do it.
I went straight into the third year at university, which was challenging both physically and mentally. I had to travel almost an hour there and back which meant long tiring days. My younger sister was my PA at University which helped massively.
I’m so glad I pushed through and ignored that nagging inner voice of self-doubt.
Struggles and Success Looking For a Job with a Disability
When I graduated from University, I knew it was going to be hard to find a job, but I don’t think I was prepared for how hard it would be.
Everyone will have a slightly different experience, but whether you have recently been diagnosed with a disability or have been disabled all your life, there will be similar questions surrounding disability and employment.
• When should I disclose my disability?
• Will the application form be accessible?
• What do I do if I’m unable to fill it in?
• Will the employer see past my disability?
• What are reasonable adjustments?
• What support will I need?
These are just a few of the many questions you may have. It is completely understandable and natural.
It took two years for me to find a job. During those two years, I applied for countless jobs and attended multiple job interviews. It was hard work and took a lot of determination. It’s almost a full-time job looking for a job.
At times a real struggle to stay focused and motivated to keep going despite the rejection. In the moment it is so difficult to do, but it’s important to try and use the rejections as motivation to keep pushing through and get to where you want to be.
For many, myself included, rejection can be perceived as the employer not offering an interview purely because we disclosed our disability. Are they only seeing my wheelchair and not my strengths or qualifications?
Again these are all natural thoughts. Not all employers will focus on the disability. Most will see past that and want to employ you because you are the right person for the job.
Employment Services and Support as a Disabled Employee
I’m grateful to be employed in a job I’ve now held for eleven years. However, it is important to remember that even though you have been offered a job there are still things to consider and implement such as reasonable adjustments or funding to apply for e.g. Access To Work.
Reasonable adjustments are changes that an employer must make which will prevent a disabled employee from being disadvantaged in the workplace.
If like me, you have a progressive condition, you will most likely need adaptations and input from Occupational Health to carry out regular work assessments. This will ensure your working environment is suitable for your changing needs and abilities as well as identifying new equipment that will help you undertake your job.
Over the years as I’ve gotten weaker, a specialist workstation and equipment, as well as changes to my work pattern, has helped me continue working while maintaining my health and quality of life.
Don’t be ashamed of needing these adaptations. It doesn’t make you any less of being a great employee. Don’t see it as a hindrance. Instead, consider it an asset. It’s so important not to suffer and struggle in silence at work as it will only affect your health.
Due to having Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy my muscles are extremely weak, which makes the simplest of tasks difficult for me to do. Despite this, I am still able to work, but with support. I need assistance entering and leaving the building and help to my desk. I need support warming up my lunch in the microwave. I’m unable to lift heavy paperwork and need help with photocopying and filing. I am driven to and picked up from work. These are just a few things I need help with throughout my workday.
Tips and Advice For Finding A Job With A Disability
Take advantage of specialist Employment Services, schemes and resources for disabled people. I also recommend identifying disability-friendly employers by looking for the ‘Disability Confident’ symbol when looking at job vacancies. Concentrate on what you can do and not what you can’t do because of your disability. Stay focused, motivated and put in the hard work. It will be worth it in the end.
I hope you have found this post helpful. I also hope it has given you an insight into my own personal experience of finding a job with a disability as well as the struggles and successes while looking for and maintaining employment.
Wishing you all the best and good luck! You can do it!
Please feel free to share your own personal experiences and tips for finding a job with a disability. I’d love to read them.
This post is in conjunction with the disability equality charity Scope but all thoughts are my own
I have Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy, a progressive muscle wasting condition which mainly affects my arms and legs. This means I can’t lift my arms, have zero strength, no trunk control and unable to walk. I use a powered wheelchair and require the support of carers for most aspects of my daily life. My disability not only affects me, but it also affects those closest to me. This being my partner and Mum who are my main carers. I recently shared my parents perspective on caring for a disabled child. Now I want to share the perspective of the person closest to me, my partner of thirteen years. In this post, I ask Allan to answer questions on what it’s like being in an interabled relationship and being my main carer.
Last week was Carers Week so I thought it was a great time to share this Q&A with my caregiving boyfriend. Carers week is dedicated to all the amazing people out there providing care and support for those who need it. It raises awareness of caring, provides support to carers and highlights the challenges of caring, especially for unpaid carers.
Carers make an incredible difference to so many peoples lives, mine included and I know I’d be lost without the care and support of my family who provides my everyday care. In the past, I have had care agencies as well as employing my own PA’s.
1. Did you know anyone with a disability or have previous experience caring for a loved one before meeting me?
Yes, my Mum has epilepsy and so growing up I have dealt with the ups and downs of this. I have also cared for her after several operations she has gone through in the past. I have always been a natural caring type of person I would say.
2. When we first met and began dating, did you have any concerns or worries about what caring for me would involve?
No, it never entered my head what care you would need. I guess that type of thing took a back seat to your personality and the fun we were having dating and being together.
3. What, if any, has been the biggest challenge for you in terms of being in a relationship with and caring for me due to my muscle wasting condition, Muscular Dystrophy?
Every relationship has its challenges and takes work to keep them happy and healthy, but when you add in a disability you then blur the lines as you become both partner and carer to the one you love and this is not always easy. In terms of challenges, I wouldn’t say there were any major challenges as we have just taken things as they come. Naturally, your disability presents challenges all the time in terms of wanting to do certain things, go to certain places etc. I would say I am naturally a compassionate and understanding person anyway, but I have had to work on becoming much more patient over the years.
You definitely need to be committed and totally dedicated to being a carer and partner all in one. You need to laugh, a lot! It can be testing. Making every single drink and meal for thirteen years, doing the washing, cooking, cleaning and everything else as well as all personal care for the one you love 24/7 is tough and takes its toll. Having a great sense of humour makes it easier and we laugh so much that it does lighten things up and keeps it fun.
When it comes down to it, being a carer and partner all in one gives us a bond that is stronger than any other. We think the same, finish each other’s sentences, come out with the same question to each other on many occasions. It’s hard to explain, the bond is just so close.
4. Do you feel like you have personally changed since being a carer? Attitude or perceptions?
I have always been the type of person who would help anyone in need and never judge people. I think I am just more aware of disability issues due to being with someone with a disability myself. It’s that old thing of people not really bothering to notice if there is a ramp for example until they or someone connected to them have a disability, then it matters and they can empathise.
5. What have you learned from being in a relationship and caring for me?
I have learned that life is short and so we must do what makes us happy.
6. What is the hardest part of being a carer?
Seeing your daily struggles and knowing the things you would like to do but cannot do is always hard. Even though I am used to it, it never gets easier.
7. What is the best thing about being a carer for me?
Knowing that I can make some things easier for you. Oh, and also the queue jumping, free gig tickets etc haha. Most importantly the very unique and close bond we have.
8. As an interabled couple, do you feel like we miss out on anything compared to able-bodied couples?
We do, and able-bodied couples take everything for granted. We miss out on so much of the outdoors, which we both love. Things like going to the beach, climbing mountains (something I love doing and would love to experience with you) as well as doing very simple things can mean lots of planning, which in the end sometimes is not worth it and often not possible.
9. What is the one biggest misconception people have about interabled couples?
There are many but people being people, most I find are not open-minded and so judge very quickly without any knowledge of what they are judging. A few of the main ones would be that there is no sex life or that it can’t possibly be exciting. Yeah okay then! You’d be surprised is all I’ll say. Another is that I must be your brother, carer, friend etc. Wrong again! That it won’t last and why would an able-bodied person want to be with someone disabled. Well, it’s lasted thirteen years now and most likely have fewer issues and are stronger than most able-bodied relationships.
10. What do you want people to know about caring for a partner?
I want people to know that it is emotionally and physically tough. It’s essentially a 24/7 job that goes with you everywhere you go even out with your relationship. The worry about those you care for is always there. Even when I am not with you, I worry that you are okay and always have to make sure someone is there for you or that you aren’t left on your own too long. It’s not at all like caring for your sick mother, son, brother, sister, daughter, father etc. Being a carer and in a loving romantic relationship at the same time is something only those who are in it will understand. It’s complex, bloody hard yet beautiful all at the same time.
11. What advice would you give to others like yourself, who are already in or beginning stages of an interabled relationship with caring responsibilities?
Be kind to each other. Take a step back and understand where the other person is coming from and learn to laugh at things, at yourself, at those staring or being ignorant. Just have fun. We only live once.
I hope this Q&A with my caregiving boyfriend has given an insight into what it’s like being in an interabled relationship, thoughts and feelings on caring for a disabled partner with Muscular Dystrophy and hopefully shatters some misconceptions people may have about interabled couples and disabled dating.
I also hope this has possibly helped in some way if you are currently new to disabled dating and have some concerns either as the disabled person needing care support or the partner providing the care support.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below or you can send me an email if you’d prefer to chat privately.
Thank you to Allan for answering these questions and being so open and honest about what it’s really like being in an interabled relationship as well as being a carer. I know I’m hard work and even though I may not always show it, I appreciate everything you do for me.
Are you or someone you know in an interabled relationship? In your experience, what are some of the misunderstandings people have about interabled couples? What impact has your disability or your partners disability had on your relationship? I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
This review of Crowne Plaza Manchester – Oxford Road is courtesy of a complimentary stay in return for an honest review.
Manchester is one of our favourite UK cities to visit. The more we visit the more we enjoy our time there. It’s becoming our second home for gigs with a few more already lined up for the end of the year. So we will be seeing you soon Manchester. Last month we got to stay at the super lovely Crowne Plaza Manchester – Oxford Road which was a great experience. In this review of Crowne Plaza Manchester, I will share what it is like to stay at this hotel in their queen wheelchair accessible room.
Location and Parking
Crowne Plaza Manchester – Oxford Road is a double-decker hotel with Staybridge Suites located within the same building (above Crowne Plaza). Located in the Northern Quarter of the city centre. We found the location ideal for our needs and what we wanted to do. It was only a short walk to the Manchester Museum, which we enjoyed visiting the last time we were in Manchester. The train station is around a ten-minute walk away, so pretty handy if you are travelling to and from Manchester by train.
We arrived around five o’clock and were pleased to find a disabled parking bay not too far from the hotel. There is no actual hotel parking, but there is nearby parking at NCP – Car Park D: Booth Street at a cost of £8.00 for 10-24 hours.
With our blue badge, we were able to park on the street for free so we did that rather than pay for the NCP parking. It was just our personal preference. It took us a few minutes to walk from our parking spot to the hotel which was absolutely fine. There was just one road we had to cross. Luckily we were able to park in that spot each time even though we left and came back multiple times.
Entrance and Reception
The entrance of Crowne Plaza is completely step free. There is a push button to open the door and there is also a revolving door too.
First thoughts when I entered was “wow”. The reception and lobby area is very open and fresh. A group of people were checking in when we arrived but one of the front desk staff quickly called us over which saved us waiting. He took us over to the lowered reception desk and spoke to me directly. Check-in was complete within minutes and I was given the personal evacuation procedure.
Once I had read and signed it, we were shown where the closest refuge point was to our room then taken to our room.
We couldn’t help but notice the lovely smell that filled the entire hotel. I always appreciate the little things like that.
Wheelchair Accessible Room #1007
For the first time in a UK hotel we’ve stayed in, the hotel room door was automatic. The front desk staff was lovely so when he took us to the room he also came in and explained how it worked. We have an automatic door at home, so it was great to have this great accessible feature in a hotel room too.
Our Queen wheelchair accessible room was on the tenth floor with access to the club lounge. It was a comfortable and spacious room with beautiful decor. There are eleven accessible rooms in this Crowne Plaza hotel, two of which are Club Rooms.
We are big fans of interior design and even the carpet design was amazing. One of the first things we noticed was the large windows and a great view of the city. I enjoyed sitting at the floor length windows enjoying the view, especially at sunset. Stunning!
The main feature of the room…the bed! I’m pleased to reveal it was a lovely and comfortable bed with a cosy duvet and plush pillows. I love the complementary deep sleep pillow spray by the brand, thisworks, which is placed on the bed. I like this whenever I stay at a Crowne Plaza hotel.
You probably all know by now that I always travel with my inflatable travel mat (like this one*) just in case the mattress is too hard for me. I was pleased when I didn’t need to use it as this bed was actually very comfortable so I slept well both nights.
The bed height was slightly high, which could prove tricky for some wheelchair transfers. However, if you require portable hoist transfers then it shouldn’t be a problem with space underneath to accommodate the hoist.
I loved how spacious the room was with space on each side of the bed for my wheelchair. There was even plenty of space between the foot of the bed and the desk. In my experience in a lot of hotel rooms, I’ve had to squeeze through or worst still, not been able to pass through at all.
I slept on the side closest to the bathroom as it had the most space for my wheelchair even with the bathroom door open. The bedside tables were free of clutter with only the emergency red cord on one side and the cordless telephone on the other side. I actually loved the cordless telephone and think all hotels should have them in their rooms. It made calling room service so much easier as I was able to sit anywhere in the room and put it on speaker without having to struggle to hold the phone to my ear which usually hurts my back and arms.
Power sockets were located on both sides of the bed so ideal for charging laptops, phones and most importantly my power wheelchair. Having a power socket next to the bed allows powered wheelchair users to charge their chairs while in bed. This is especially important if the wheelchair user cannot walk or travelling alone as they need their wheelchair next to the bed beside them.
The desk area was accessible for my wheelchair which meant I could roll underneath without banging my knees. It was a good height for me so this helped when I was doing my makeup and eating. A Nespresso coffee marker, as well as tea, kit kats, biscuits and hot chocolates, were provided.
The closet had a sliding door for easy access, which is great for wheelchair users. Inside the closet was a mini fridge with complimentary bottles of water, hairdryer, drinking glasses and a safe.
We love ordering room service. Who doesn’t? Lazying about your hotel room and enjoying delicious food never gets boring. We were so happy to see several vegan options on the menu. It was a tough decision, but we opted for the vegan pizza and my goodness, it was amazing. I was so disappointed that I couldn’t manage to finish my pizza though. I’d go back to Crowne Plaza Manchester just for the pizza. In all seriousness, the chunky chips, fries and vegan chocolate brownie were all lovely.
Both mornings we had breakfast in our room too. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, mornings are a struggle and rushing to get up and dressed to head down for breakfast turn an enjoyable hotel stay into feeling rushed and tired.
The view was simply awesome! The floor length windows made all the difference as it allowed me to drive up to the window and enjoy unrestricted views from each direction. Most hotel room windows I’m unable to see out of because they are too high. Our accessible room at Crowne Plaza was amazing. I was even able to see the road and paths, which may sound trivial but I liked being able to look down and watch the world go by so to speak.
We enjoyed chilling in our room and watching the sunset over Manchester. The sky was painted with beautiful colours and cast golden light through our room. It was lovely.
The accessible bathroom in our Crowne Plaza room was large with plenty of space to move around in my wheelchair. There was also space for a portable hoist if required.
The grey slate wall tiles gave a modern contemporary look which I liked. The toilet had a pull-down grab rail on one side as well as two fixed grab bars on the wall. The position of the toilet provided right-hand side wheelchair transfers.
Next to the toilet was a washbasin which was longer in length than it was in depth which meant it didn’t stick out and get in the way when being transferred.
The roll-in shower was spacious with a wall-mounted shower seat. The pull-down grab rail was positioned next to the seat. The water controls and showerhead were within reach.
May has been a busy month with lots of gig and celebrations. There has also been some downtime, which has been nice. I’m looking forward to seeing what June has in store, but for now, here is what I’ve loved in May.
We love Manchester. The more we visit the more we enjoy it. Its one of our favourite UK cities to visit for gigs, which is usually our main reason for visiting. We’ve also had some pretty awesome vegan food each time we have visited Manchester. We randomly stumbled across a vegan shop and cafe, selling lots of great vegan options. Another two trips are already planned for Manchester this year. This time we stayed at the super lovely Crowne Plaza on Oxford Road. It was in a great location and our accessible room gave us amazing views across the city. The sunset was stunning. My hotel review will be coming very soon so stay tuned for all the details.
Sunset across Manchester from our hotel room window.
We haven’t been watching any new TV shows this month, but we did watch an amazing documentary called Last Breath. It was on BBC at the beginning of the month. I highly recommend you give it a watch. It follows the story of a diver trapped on the bottom of the North Sea. We sat gripped to the TV. We couldn’t believe this was real life. It was way more shocking than any thriller movie we’ve watched in a long time.
There was a system failure on the dive support vessel which results in saturation diver, Chris getting stranded on the seabed with only five minutes of oxygen. There is no chance of rescue for more than thirty minutes. Honestly, this is nail-biting viewing. Bear in mind its pitch dark at the bottom of the north sea, so he is basically lost while his crew frantically try to find and rescue him.
I won’t tell you anymore, but please go and watch it then let me know what you think. You can watch it here.
Image courtesy of BBC
My nephew turned six this month. I know its so typical to say, but I honestly can’t believe he is six already. I remember going to see him for the first time in hospital and it doesn’t seem that long ago. It’s been the best six years having him in our lives and watching him grow up. He has brought us so much love and happiness. My friend Claire made him a fantastic Power Rangers birthday cake (thanks again Claire), which he was absolutely over the moon by. Ever since his first birthday, we have taken him to Five Sisters Zoo, so it has now become somewhat of a tradition each year. We enjoyed another trip there this month. It’s great looking back at photos from the previous trips there to see how much he has grown.
Emma and her nephew watching the meerkats.
May has been the best month of the year for gigs. We have been to three gigs and all three have been fantastic. The first was Dermot Kennedy at Albert Hall in Manchester. I’m so excited to share my review of this venue as it was absolutely AMAZING. Accessibility and the staff were top class. We have been wanting to see Dermot Kennedy for such a long time so to finally see him in this beautiful venue will forever be one of my favourite ever gigs. Next up was Maren Morris at O2 Academy in Glasgow. This was our second time seeing Maren and she just gets better and better. The following night we were back in Glasgow for Kip Moore at the Old Fruitmarket for an intimate acoustic night. We were sat in the front row so it felt very special. I can’t wait to share all three gig reviews soon.
Dermot Kennedy on stage at the Albert Hall in Manchester
At the beginning of the month, I took some time off work. For the first time in a long time, we didn’t have any plans involving travel. Surprisingly it was quite nice to have some time at home. We enjoyed a few nice walks around our area and some walks with Toby the dog. One of the walks was to Blackness Castle which we decided to film. We met an adorable old dog at the beach and then we got attacked by flies. You can watch it all on my YouTube channel here.
Emma enjoying time off with nice long strolls.
My favourite photo for this month is one we took in Manchester while wandering around before heading to the Dermot Kennedy gig. Each time I see ‘No Parking’ signs I have a strong urge to pose in front of them. Maybe it’s the rebel in me. Parking controls can’t stop me parking my wheelchair anywhere. Haha.
Emma rebelling against parking controls.
What did you love in May? Anything you’re looking forward to in June?
The Vegan Kind Beauty Box is my bi-monthly treat to myself with makeup and skincare goodies that are cruelty-free and vegan. I signed up for the 6-month subscription back in February and loved the products in the February box so much I wrote a review about it (beauty box Feb). The VeganKind beauty box April and May edition arrived a few weeks ago so I’ve had some time to try out the products and gather my thoughts on each. So here we go with my TheVeganKind beauty box review for April and May.
What’s Inside The Box?
I’m always happy to discover new brands in each TheVeganKind Beauty Box. This box was full of new discoveries and packed with a ton of kindness.
I love a good moisturiser and this one from the Scottish brand, Skin Radiance is lovely and full-size. The Retinol Moisturiser Cream contains Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid and Premium Retinol which is good for anti-ageing, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. This cream is suitable for all skin types and hasn’t irritated my sensitive skin. Win-win!
Official B. Fan Brush (RRP £6.99)
I’ve spoken about my love for Offical B. skincare products before, but haven’t tried their make up yet. So I was happy to see a Fan Brush from the brand in this beauty box edition. Fan brushes are great for gently applying setting powders, blushers, bronzers and highlighters. A great brush for multiple uses.
SHOBU Indulgence Bath Bomb For The Shower (RRP £3)
Everyone loves bath bombs (even my nephew). They look and smell amazing, but I’ve always been a little jealous because I’m unable to get in and out of the bath. Roll-in showers are more my kind of thing. However, I’ve recently discovered shower bombs! I got a few LUSH shower bombs for Christmas from Allan which I really liked. So I was happy to find a SHOBU Indulgence Bath Bomb for the shower in this beauty box. The shower bomb is infused with an aromatic blend of Chamomile, Clove and Cardamon which is perfect for a relaxing shower. The LUSH shower bombs I’ve tried can be placed underwater and then applied to your skin. With the SHOBU shower bomb, just place it on the shower floor and enjoy the beautiful relaxing aroma. Your own at home spa experience. I haven’t actually tried this yet, but looking forward to it though.
From British brand, PHB Ethical Beauty this superfood brightening serum “deeply penetrates the skin to help plump, firm and brighten”. It came in a little sachet sample, which gave me a few days worth of use. It’s made to be easily absorbed into the skin and packed with vitamins, minerals and nutrients. It will plump, brighten and firm. What is not to love about that?
I’ve never heard of CODE Beautiful before so I was excited to try their soft smooth lip liner. It’s a 3-in-1 lip liner, lipstick and lip plumper and it has super clever self-sharpening technology. How cool is that? Especially as I’m unable to sharpen regular lip/eye pencils due to my muscle weakness. So I’m loving that it will sharpen for me. The lip liner is a lovely soft blush shade and is great to apply and blend. It just glides on, which again makes it easier for me to use. LOVE IT!
BYBI Beauty Prime Time Facial Polish (RRP £24)
The most expensive product in this beauty box, worth £24, is this full-size Prime Time Facial Polish from BYBI Beauty which is amazing. This face scrub cleanses, exfoliates and preps the skin as well as removing dirt, dead skin cells while being suitable for all skin types. Each time I use this, my skin feels super clean and fresh. Thumbs up from me!
TheVeganKind Beauty Box Review | April 2019
The total value of products in TheVeganKind beauty box April edition adds up to over £65. I spent £14.95 per box, so that works out to be a blooming awesome saving. I’ve loved trying all six products and will likely repurchase BYBI Beauty Prime Time Facial Polish, Skin Radiance Retinol Moisturiser Cream and the CODE Beautiful lip liner.
20p from every box sold is donated to Animal Free Research UK, which is a charity working on ways to replace animal product testing. TheVeganKind also has lifestyle boxes with vegan food, drinks, treats and a lifestyle product.
Are you interested in subscription boxes? Do you have a subscription box?
Music is a big part of my life. It was one of the main things that brought Allan and me together – our love of music during the good old MySpace days lead to our relationship (read our story here). Some couples enjoy going out for a romantic meal and a few drinks at a bar. For us, going to a gig and seeing our favourite bands is what we love the most. Living so close to two main Scottish cities, Edinburgh and Glasgow makes it super easy to attend all the live music at accessible venues as we want. Since we are big gig-lovers with a range of good and bad accessibility experiences throughout the years, I thought I’d share my tips for going to a gig in a wheelchair.
1. Research The Venue Accessibility
Live music shows range from small intimate bars or clubs to massive arenas and stadiums. Each with very different levels of accessibility. So it’s important to research the venue accessibility before going ahead and booking tickets. Unless of course, you’ve been to the venue before and aware of what it’s like going to a gig in a wheelchair at that venue.
The first thing I always do when researching the accessibility of the venue is to look on their website. I will look for the accessibility section and hopefully, there will be information on how to book accessible and carer/PA tickets, the accessible viewing area, toilet, parking and more. If the information is vague, nonexistent or I can’t find images to back up the information, then I will either email or call the venue directly.
Always do your research. It’s best not to assume the venue is accessible and spend money on a ticket, travel etc only to turn up and have to leave if there is no access.
2. Call The Venue
Give the venue a call if you can’t find the answers on their website. Have a list of questions prepared and anything you’d like confirmed. You may want to ask about accessible parking, how far the accessible toilet/changing places toilet is from the viewing area or the policy on bringing an assistance dog to the venue. If you still aren’t sure about the accessibility, don’t worry, ask for photos to be taken and emailed to you. Seeing photos of the toilet, viewing platform or entrance may be more helpful to you than someone trying to explain what they think is accessible.
3. Free Carer/PA Ticket
Most venues now offer a free carer/PA ticket to disabled customers. This information may not be provided on the venue’s website so always ask before purchasing your tickets online. For venues I regularly attend, like O2 Academy, I know that I can purchase one standard general admission ticket online for myself and then email to request a free carer/PA. If accessible tickets are only available to book over the phone, then it’s important to ask the agent if a free carer/PA ticket will be provided as they may be unaware and charge you for two tickets. Many disabled people prefer or require someone to attend a gig with them to provide care or support, so offering free carer/PA tickets is incredibly beneficial and makes the gig more accessible for disabled customers.
Emma, Allan, her friend Hannah and Megan on the viewing platform at BST Hyde Park.
4. What Can You Take In With You
Most venues will carry out a bag search and have a policy on what is and isn’t allowed into the venue. If you need to carry medication with you or any specialist equipment then it may be best to check on the venue’s website or contact them directly. Let them know what you need to take with you and ask whether you’ll need to provide a doctors letter etc.
5. Viewing Area/Platform
Personally, I much prefer to be seated in a designated viewing area or platform for wheelchairs and disabled guests. I know some disabled people would rather be amongst the crowd or be as close to the stage as possible. However, at the risk of being accidentally elbowed in the face, fallen on, leaned on, being too low down and not being able to see anything, I don’t think it’s worth it. Being in a viewing area or raised viewing platform gives a much better view and allows you to enjoy the band comfortably and safer. Having confirmation prior to attending will hopefully save any uncomfortable and unnecessary conversations about your medical needs with door or venue staff on the night.
Accessible viewing platform at Glasgow Summer Sessions.
6. Early Entry Vs Late Arrival
In my experience, most venues allow early entry to disabled customers. This means you get to enter the venue before everyone else starts piling in. Early entry is handy for beating the crowds and queues, but also for finding a good spot to watch the show. This is especially helpful if it’s a general admission show and there is no designated accessible area. Entering before everyone else also gives you time to get a drink, grab some food or go to the toilet.
Personally, I don’t like going before the doors opens. I’d rather go a little bit later when the support act is on or shortly before the main act come on stage. This may not suit a lot of people, but for me, it works best as I tend not to drink when I’m at gigs so going at 6pm until 11pm can be too long without drinking etc. Also, I get sore sitting in the same position too long, so the less time I’m there the better. So if you can’t be there early for whatever reason, don’t worry, staff are usually good at guiding you through the crowd to your viewing spot. Everyone is different so it’s important to work out what works best for you.
7. Accessible Toilets
Accessible toilets are so important. Your favourite band may be playing at a small bar or club which has an accessible entrance, but there may not be an accessible toilet. If they do have an ‘accessible loo’, it is likely to be on the small side. Always double check what their facilities are like beforehand. If you still really want to go to the gig regardless of being able to access the toilet, a backup plan with the closest accessible toilet is a good idea. I’ve been in many small venues and once the show starts it is impossible to move from your spot.
So going to the toilet mid-show is not an option unless you weave your way through the packed crowd of most likely, drunk, excited or oblivious gig-goers who can’t see you because you’re low down and not at their eye-level. It’s always good to know where the accessible toilets are and mentally plan a route from where you’re sitting in case you need to go. Ask beforehand if you will need a Radar key to unlock the accessible toilet. It’s always a good idea to bring the Radar key with you in case.
Emma in the Changing Places toilet at The SSE Hydro Glasgow.
Extra tips and advice for going to a gig in a wheelchair:
Plan how you are getting to and from the venue i.e. bus, train or car. Book train assistance in advance.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if something isn’t right e.g, you can’t see the stage.
As tempting as it is to take a million photos at the gig, it can leave you with a dead phone. Try not to run your mobile battery down too much in case of an emergency or change to travel plans.
Crowds aren’t much fun to endure in a wheelchair, so it’s a good idea to leave a few minutes before the show ends or wait until the majority of the crowds have left the venue before making your way out.
Get your an Access Card which “informs providers quickly and discreetly about the support you need and may gain you access to things like concessionary ticket prices and complex reasonable adjustments without having to go into loads of personal detail.” You can read my blog on the Access Card here.
Tips For Going To A Gig In A Wheelchair
It’s no surprise that some venues aren’t as accessible compared to the arenas or stadium events. Accessibility does vary quite a bit, but going to a gig in a wheelchair isn’t impossible. It is very much possible and something you should absolutely do.
Accessibility at venues is getting better with disability awareness and facilities becoming more of a priority all the time. Of course, there is still room for improvement. Although the majority of the time a venue is going to do what they can to make it as accessible as possible.
Music makes us feel things. It is incredibly powerful. It can affect us in many different ways. Music lets you get lost in the moment. That is powerful and amazing. Live music has all that and more. Everyone is there to have a great night and enjoy the music. To see your favourite band live is incredible and you will be able to cherish the memories from that night forever.
With that said, going to a gig in a wheelchair can be challenging and a little stressful at times, but as long as you are prepared, do your research, you will have a fantastic time.
For gig and festival reviews, check out the Gigsection.
What are your top tips for going to a gig in a wheelchair? What is your favourite accessible venue?
Travelling with a disability can be a challenge, so it’s important to plan as much as possible. Although the planning and research doesn’t stop once you have booked the flights, hotel and airport transfers. Finding restaurants with wheelchair access can be just as challenging, so to make things a little easier I’m excited to share with you the best vegan restaurants in Barcelona with wheelchair access.
Personally, we have often walked/rolled around a city for a long time trying to find a suitable restaurant with wheelchair access and an accessible toilet. Many times we have spotted a restaurant we really want to visit, but have had to walk past because there were steps.
We also have to factor in if it has vegan options, which can sometimes be a little more difficult. Thankfully we are finding the number of vegan restaurants increasing in cities we visit – creating more options.
Before visiting a new city I always research the best vegan restaurants in that city. I usually check Google and other blogs with lists of vegan restaurants. However, I never find lists detailing if there is wheelchair access, so I then have to do more research. Before I know it I have a kazillion browser tabs open.
So here is my very own list of the top 6 best vegan restaurants in Barcelona with wheelchair access that we have enjoyed.
Flax & Kale Tallers
There are three Flax & Kale restaurants in Barcelona and we wanted to visit them all during our trip. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, but we are pleased that we managed to eat at two of them. Flax &Kale Tallers was the first one we tried and OMG. The decor and food are amazing! We both ordered the ‘Teresa Carles Best Veggie Burger’ and it really was the best. 80% of the menu is plant-based so there is a massive range of options to suit all preferences.
The food is fresh, delicious and beautifully presented and aesthetically pleasing. Black burger buns? Yes, please! Even though we were both full we couldn’t resist dessert. Healthy but super tasty desserts might I add. I went for the coco masala chai ice cream. Yum! Knowing it was healthy didn’t make me feel so bad for eating it all.
Flax & Kale Tallers had the coolest decor as well as a range of seating options. There were round or long rectangle tables so you are likely to find one that suits your wheelchair. We sat at a table with a view out the large windows onto the street. The accessible toilet is upstairs which is accessible via a lift. The toilet was really nice and had everything I needed including grab bars, roll-under sink and space for my wheelchair to manoeuvre around.
The address for Flax & Kale Tallers:
Carrer dels Tallers, 74b, 08001 Barcelona
Not solely a vegan restaurant, but we were pleased to discover SINGULAR had a vegan option on the menu. We visited this restaurant for lunch after spending the morning at Park Güell. Located along from Sagrada Familia, SINGULAR was the perfect spot to enjoy our delicious vegan burgers. I decided to be a bit different by opting for vegetable chips instead of fries but got jealous so stole a few of Allan’s. The burgers came with tomatoes, lettuce, cucumber and remoulade sauce. The vegetables are grown in their gardens in Esparregera and were delicious. So good! To finish I had sorbet which was lovely and refreshing.
Wheelchair access in SINGULAR was very good and the staff were very accommodating. The entrance had level-access and there was space between the tables so I was able to get in and out easily. The accessible toilet was minimalist with plenty of space for my wheelchair. The toilet had grab bars and a roll-under sink.
The address for SINGULAR:
Carrer de Sardenya, 321, 08025 Barcelona
The Green Spot
The Green Spot was our favourite restaurant from our first visit to Barcelona and remains on top after our second visit. We loved absolutely everything about The Green Spot. From the decor, the vibe, the location, the staff, the plant atrium (Yes, the plants) and of course the awesome food. We couldn’t fault this gem of a restaurant. We enjoyed a selection of appetisers before our pizzas, but have also had the sweet potato tagliatelle with macadamia nut sauce and black truffle. A real treat for the taste buds.
The Green Spot has great wheelchair accessibility. I especially like how spacious it was so I didn’t feel like I was in anyone’s way. I was able to drive my wheelchair straight up to the table as it was a good height for me. The accessible toilet was very clean and simple with grab bars on each side of the toilet. As with all accessible toilets we used in Barcelona, I was able to roll easily under the sink.
The address for The Green Spot:
Carrer de la Reina Cristina, 12, 08003 Barcelona
You can’t go to Barcelona and not try the Gran Vegano burger from Bacoa. It is AMAZING. There are five Bacoa restaurants around Barcelona so you have to try at least one during your time in the city. We ate at the Bacoa Barceloneta right on the beachfront. It was a great spot with stunning views of the beach and surrounded by palm trees. What more can you ask for? I unintentionally wore my ‘burgers and fries’ t-shirt that day, which the waiter loved.
Wheelchair accessibility at Bacoa Barceloneta is great because it’s literally on the beach front and not necessarily in the actual restaurant (which is quite small). There are accessible toilets along the beach if required. The next time we visit Barcelona we are going to try the other Bacoa restaurants which are bigger and have seating inside.
Flax & Kale Passage
Located in a beautiful quaint little passage is where you will find Flax & Kale Passage. Its such a pretty area with lovely plants hanging from balconies. All three Flax & Kale restaurants specialise in different cuisines so there are lots of options to choose from. Healthy pizzas and Asian Fusion was the speciality at Flax & Kale Passage. The pizzas were so good and so filling, but again we couldn’t resist the desserts. Who can blame us when they sound and look so amazing.
Wheelchair accessibility was very good in Flax & Kale Passage. One of the first things I noticed was how attentive and accommodating the staff were in making sure the table was suitable and that we were comfortable. Even showing us to the accessible toilet before we left. The accessible toilet was a good size with enough space for my powered wheelchair and Allan to move around. There were grab bars on each side of the toilet and a good size roll-under sink. There was a baby changing table in the corner, but I still had enough space.
The address for Flax & Kale Passage:
Carrer de Sant Pere Més Alt, 31-33, 08003 Barcelona
Gelaaati Di Marco
Strolling the beautiful Barcelona streets or sunbathing on the beach can be hard work. The perfect spot to stop at with a great selection of vegan gelato is Gelaaati Di Marco. Located in the Gothic Quarter which is one of my favourite areas in Barcelona.
Although this gelateria has a step into the shop, I still feel it deserves a shout out because the lovely friendly server made me feel included. While I waited at the step, the server gave me samples of the flavours to help me choose what flavours I wanted. I finally decided on watermelon and fig. It was sooooo good.
The address for Gelaaati Di Marco:
Carrer de la Llibreteria, 7, 08002 Barcelona, Spain
So there you have it, my list of the top 6 best vegan restaurants in Barcelona with wheelchair access. It’s no secret that Barcelona is one of my absolute favourite cities so I can’t wait to visit again and discover more awesome vegan restaurants to add to the list.
Also, if you’re looking for wheelchair accessible things to do, where to stay, an accessible guide to the city or why you should visit Nova Icària beach Barcelona in a wheelchair, then make sure you take a look at the links..
Wow! April has been a quick month, don’t you think? May is already shaping up to be a busy month, but before this month bites the dust, I’d like to share a few favourites and what I’ve loved in April.
Fun In The Sun
The weather last weekend was unseasonably warm. The spring heatwave had everyone outside enjoying the Easter sunshine. While we didn’t do very much over that weekend we did enjoy a little bit of time with our nephews which was lovely. On Saturday we took our nephew to feed some horses in a local field. My nephew always loves going to see the horses and it has been something we’ve done with him since he was about one year old. It was funny and a little strange when a Facebook memory popped up showing us that we did the exact same thing four years ago on the exact same day. Spooky!
Then on Monday, we took our nephew through to Queens Park in Glasgow to meet up with Allan’s mum and our other nephew. It was great to see the two boys playing together in the park especially as they don’t see each other very often. They both had their scooters, played in the play park and kicked the ball about. They had a brilliant time.
‘A Life With Elephants’ with Saba Douglas Hamilton
A few weeks ago I stumbled across a TV show on BBC Two called ‘The Wild Life’. Each day after work I would sit and watch it while I was having my daily physio/stretches done. It followed wildlife expert Saba Douglas-Hamilton, her husband and three young daughters as they moved to the Samburu National Reserve in Kenya to run a safari camp, Elephant Watch. I recognised Saba from watching her in the ‘Big Cat Diary’ years ago – another wildlife show I loved watching.
Saba’s father founded the charity, Save The Elephants and Saba’s husband is now the CEO. The show follows their lives and the many elephant families living in the Samburu National Reserve. After a few days of watching the show, I began Googling more about Saba and the charity. I was so happy to see Saba was doing a UK tour. I booked tickets on Friday and the show was on the following Tuesday at The Mitchell Library in Glasgow (review coming soon).
It was incredibly interesting to listen to Saba talk about her life/work in Africa and elephant conservation. I sat the entire time fascinated by her stories, which were funny, heartbreaking, inspirational and at times scary. They are doing such amazing work for the protection of elephants. It was a fantastic night and I’d love to go to more talks like that.
I’m taking two weeks off and usually we would have a trip abroad booked for this time of year. This year we don’t have anything planned as such and usually, we would be freaking out at the thought of ‘wasting two weeks off’ and not doing anything with them. Instead, we are going to slow things down a little, enjoy some time at home and hopefully do more things and days out locally. I’m looking forward to taking it easy and resting a bit more too.
It’s been a while since I featured a favourite photo of the month and as soon as this one was taken it became one of my all-time favourites. It’s me and my nephew while out on a walk recently. We stopped to watch some swans in the lake and my nephew stood beside me and put his arm across my shoulder. Every time I look at this photo it makes me smile. I absolutely love it. To me, it shows pure love and it makes me super proud to see him grow up to be caring, kind, compassionate and unfazed by disability.
Having A Declutter
Not the most exciting thing to do, but at the beginning of the month I had a wardrobe clear out, declutter and reorganisation. There were clothes that I’ve had for a long time and never worn but for some reason could never bring myself to get rid of. This time, I got ruthless and it felt good. I ended up with a big bag full of clothes that I donated to charity. For the clothes that I really like but never wear for whatever reason, they went into the ‘maybe’ pile.
I’ve been working my way through that pile at the weekends, trying to wear different things together and if I actually like wearing them then I’ll move them out of the ‘maybe’ pile. It seems to be working so far. My wardrobe is looking so much better and I’ve not been tempted to buy new clothes to fill the empty spaces. My goal is to have a capsule wardrobe….maybe one day!
What did you love in April? Anything you’re looking forward to in May?
Last month I had the pleasure of staying at the brand spanking new Travelodge Solihull. I’ve stayed in a few Travelodge hotels throughout the years, but this one is my favourite so far. Here is my honest review of our stay detailing why we loved our stay at Travelodge Solihull and what it’s like staying in a Travelodge wheelchair accessible SuperRoom.
Image courtesy TripAdvisor
We based ourselves in Solihull as we were attending the disability event, Naidex at Birmingham NEC and it was the perfect option for us.
Booking a Room
You can make your room reservation via the Travelodge website. When selecting the room make sure you tick the box for ‘accessible room’ which also has a wheelchair symbol beside it.
Location & Parking
I travelled down by car with Allan and my Mum. It took us around seven hours from Central Scotland, so we stopped off a few times at motorway services for a break and to use the facilities.
Allan was on a mission to win as many soft toys as he could from the grabber machines for our nephew. He was successful in winning four, which my nephew was absolutely delighted with.
It was such a pleasant surprise as we approached the hotel and seen how lovely the location was. This brand new hotel was set on a beautiful leafy street lined with beautiful houses. With the train station less than a five minute walk away and the Town Centre only a five minute drive along the road.
The hotel is a fifteen minute drive from Birmingham NEC, which was our main reason for our trip down south. So in terms of location, it was ideal.
We were pleased to discover the hotel has free car parking and we managed to get a disabled bay right outside the hotel entrance.
Entrance & Reception
The ground level entrance only has a lift and a staircase. So as soon as we entered, I rolled along the hallway and took the lift up to the reception area.
We were then warmly greeted by two of the loveliest and friendliest reception staff. Amber was one of the ladies on reception who checked us into our wheelchair accessible SuperRoom while the other lady checked my mum into her room.
They made us feel very welcome and chatted away while completing the check-in. Within minutes we were headed to our rooms. Amber let us know that she would come up to our room shortly to go over the Personal Evacuation in case of an emergency.
The reception desk didn’t have a lowered section, but as there was no paperwork to complete at check-in, it wasn’t an issue for me.
When Amber came to our room to explain the personal evacuation process I was given a form to complete with my requirements if there was an emergency. I was also given instructions and shown where the refuge point was.
Wheelchair Accessible Hotel Room #402
Travelodge has recently introduced new SuperRoom to their hotels. We had only ever stayed in the standard accessible rooms before. So we were excited to stay in the wheelchair accessible SuperRoom at Travelodge Solihull. My mum also stayed in a SuperRoom. Both rooms were on the fourth floor.
Our wheelchair accessible SuperRoom was cosy, stylish and comfortable. All the things we want while away from home.
As always I packed my inflatable travel mat in case the mattress was too hard and uncomfortable for me. Thankfully I didn’t have to use the travel mat at all as the bed was really comfortable. I love when that happens.
In fact, we all had amazing sleep both nights. My mum is quite a bad sleeper but we were so pleased that she found the bed incredibly comfortable and slept great. My mum loved the bed so much that she has been looking at buying the Travelodge mattress from their website. No joke!
The twin double bed was at a nice low height which made it good for wheelchair transfers. There was even space underneath to accommodate portable hoists if required. As with all Travelodge hotels I’ve stayed in, there is no bedside table, just a little shelf. Personally, I don’t mind this, but it could be a little tricky if you require a table to place medical equipment on during the night. I think the chair could be used for that instead if required.
The shelf on each side of the bed with the power sockets is handy for charging your phone when in bed. the headboard has a control panel for the room lights allowing you to change the setting to night or bright depending on your preferences.
The desk area was accessible and I found the height suitable for rolling my wheelchair underneath. I loved that it had a large mirror above the desk and that it was positioned low enough so that I could see in it.
On the desk was a Lavazza coffee machine, kettle with tea/coffee and two KitKats. An open clothes hanger was attached to the desk with an iron, ironing board, hangers and extra pillows.
As you may know, I love when hotel rooms have full-length mirrors. Especially when they are placed in an accessible spot in the room that I can actually position my wheelchair in front of. I was happy to see our wheelchair accessible SuperRoom had one.
Next to the large full-length mirror was a shelf with a hairdryer. The hairdryer was another perk of the SuperRoom.
I loved the framed map of Solihull hanging on the wall. It showed all the main attractions and buildings around the town of Solihull in a really cool cartoon-like drawing style. I appreciate the little things like that.
I found it easy to move around the room in my wheelchair, which gets two thumbs up from me.
Travelodge SuperRoom Features:
Lavazza A Modo Mio capsule coffee machine
Hansgrohe Raindance 3jet adjustable shower
A choice of hypoallergenic pillows
32” LED Slimline Freeview TV
New Bathroom Design
Hairdryer & Full-Length Mirror
Iron & Ironing Board
USB Charging and Connectivity
Hotel bathroom accessibility is very important when travelling as a wheelchair user. There are lots of questions that I and other wheelchair users need to know before booking.
Will my wheelchair fit in the bathroom? Will there be adequate space for transferring to and from the toilet? Will there be a roll-in shower with a decent shower chair? Will the sink be big enough so my wheelchair can actually get close enough to enable me to brush my teeth?
As soon as we entered our hotel room I was happy to see the bathroom was going to work for me. Instantly I could see that it was large enough for my wheelchair to drive in and turn around. I loved the dark brown wooden vinyl flooring. I haven’t seen flooring like that in a hotel bathroom before so it was nice to see.
The toilet was placed in the corner with space on the left side for transfers. A fixed grab bar was on the wall and a fixed and folding grab bar was on the other side (transferring side). The toilet paper rolls were attached to the wall on the side within easy reach. The toilet was attached to a box unit with a shelf behind, which could be handy for storing items you need.
The roll-in shower had one of the best wall-mounted shower seats I’ve seen. Rather than being a tiny little seat, it was a great size with back support too. There was a folding grab bar on one side and two fixed grab bars on the other side. The handheld showerhead, water controls and soap dispenser were all within a good reaching distance for ease. The double shower curtain was full length to stop the water from escaping too much and would keep your wheelchair from getting wet.
Bathroom sinks can be a real bugbear of mine, but thankfully I was able to roll underneath to brush my teeth and wash my face at this sink. Although I made it work for me, it would have been even better if the sink was just a bit wider to save having to lean over too much.
I really liked the bathroom in our wheelchair accessible SuperRoom. The glossy white walls with light blue accents gave a lovely fresh look.
The bar cafe served breakfast, lunch and dinner for guests. The lovely setting was relaxed each morning we went along for breakfast. The staff were super attentive and incredibly friendly. Offering a buffet style hot and cold breakfast with items like croissants, fruit, toast, cereals, full English with vegetarian options. We enjoyed our breakfasts while seated at the large windows. Unlimited breakfast was included in our reservation. Otherwise, it is only £8.50 and free for kids.