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No room at the Inn

The hotel industry is failing disabled people

The UK’s leading hotel groups are failing to accommodate disabled people, a new survey by disability charity Leonard Cheshire has found.

Thirty hotels across nine groups were surveyed in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for Leonard Cheshire’s No Room at the Inn report and results show that for many hotel companies disabled access is far from a priority.

Three of the nine hotel groups surveyed performed particularly badly, scoring only 13.7 (the Moat House), 14 (Ramada Jarvis) and 14.3 (Best Western) out of a possible 27 points (or 51%, 52% and 53% respectively). The Thistle was the top scoring group, with 22.7 out of 27 points (84%). The remaining groups surveyed were the Holiday Inn, Marriott, Premier Travel Inn, Radisson and Travelodge.

The survey uncovered many potential shortfalls in levels of service across the board:

·        Less than half of the hotels surveyed (46%) said that they offered fully accessible bathing facilities in their “accessible” rooms. The remaining hotels only provided a ‘tub’ bath that required lifting, rather than a wetroom, side opening bath or roll in shower.

·        Less than a third of hotels said that they had lifts with Braille buttons to enable blind customers to travel to their floors

·        A third of hotels said that their “accessible” rooms did not provide half size wardrobes or lower rails, to enable wheelchair users to hang up their clothes

·        Only just over half the hotels (53%) said that they were able to provide restaurant or room service menus in Braille or large print

·        Only 16/30 (53%) of the hotels surveyed said that they had a hearing induction loop installed in their reception area to assist customers with hearing impairments

·        Only one of the 30 hotels surveyed said that it had a text phone installed in its disabled room.

Recent statistics show that some 151 million domestic holidays were taken by the UK population in 2003, with 41% of these trips including hotel stays.* As we head into the holiday season, No Room at the Inn shows that even holidaying at home can be fraught with difficulty for disabled people, with UK based hotels struggling to offer the same facilities and levels of service as they do for non-disabled people.

Harry Heath, a wheelchair user from Ipswich said: “Don’t always believe a hotel when it claims to be accessible. One had a ramp to the bar but it was much too steep to navigate, imagine that after a few drinks. It also very kindly offered a disabled toilet but you had to go through the ladies to get there… and it was just a flimsy cubicle tacked on to the others. Disabled people are just an afterthought.”

John Knight, Head of Policy at Leonard Cheshire said: “Hotels can no longer choose to provide an accessible service - they have been legally bound since October 2004 to do so. There are 10 million disabled people in the UK with an estimated purchasing power of £80 billion”. **

He concludes:  “Hotels need to shape up or risk losing out on a lot of custom”.

Molly Davison from Newbury was also recently let down by a UK hotel: “We booked an accessible room only to find on arrival that it was still being built. The only other room big enough for my wheelchair was the penthouse suite, which was on the top floor and totally isolated in the event of a fire. To add insult to injury, the bathroom door had to be removed before I could even get in. The entire trip was a disaster.”

Disabled people affected by lack of access to services, or non-disabled people such as friends, family and colleagues who believe in access for all, can join Leonard Cheshire’s Campaigns network by calling: 020 7802 8229 or email:



*Taken from the Statistics and Tourism Research website (

** Official DWP figures, Dec 2004


The report is available to download from:

For more information or for media enquiries please call Laura Burnell in the Leonard Cheshire media team on: 020 7802 8265. Email: Out of hours: 07903 949388


Notes to editors


1. Thirty hotels were surveyed in total, from nine of the UK’s top hotel groups. The groups were:         

  • Best Western
  • Holiday Inn
  • Marriot
  • Moat House
  • Premier
  • Radisson
  • Ramada Jarvis
  • Thistle 
  • Travelodge


2. To ensure a representative sample, three or four hotels in each group were surveyed (dependent on whether the group operates in three or all four countries within the UK). In each instance, a hotel in the largest city in which that group operates was chosen, as they were more likely to be tourist hotels, accustomed to large levels of patronage.


Each hotel was asked the same number of questions (23) about accessibility, with bonus points awarded for extra or exceptional service. Each group also received a score out of 4 for its website. Each hotel group then received a total score out of either 92 for groups with hotels in four countries (4x23), or 69 for groups with hotels in only three countries (3x23). This total score was divided by the number of hotels surveyed, and the website scores added to get a final average rating out of 27, from which a percentage was taken.


3. Leonard Cheshire ( exists to change attitudes to disability and to serve disabled people around the world. It has been supporting disabled people for almost 60 years and is active in 55 countries.   The charity supports over 21,000 disabled people in the UK.


Leonard Cheshire operates globally in three core areas:  pioneering new services and projects that reflect the lifestages and lifestyles of disabled people; campaigning to change attitudes in society and for the rights of disabled people; and providing UK operations and activities offering a wide spectrum of services.