Wednesday, May 04, 2005

More Pesky Hotels

Once again (yes, my social life has picked up...) I am off to be at the mercy of another 'accessible' hotel. I booked with a big hotel chain this time, thinking, stupidly, because there was an access sign on their website, that they might be more on the ball with their premises.

To some extent this is true. They have parking. They have handrails in the bathrooms. They have lower storage space for clothes. But do they let crips loose in a double room? Na-ah. Only twin rooms, cos everyone knows we're all single, right?

Except I'm married. And I'm looking forward to a nice getaway with Mr F, husband of less than one year. And the last thing I want is to sleep in a dratted twin bed - and especially not to find out by a short e-mail the oh, by the way, madam, you know that double room you booked? Sorry. We only do twins for disabled people. That is alright though, isn't it?

No it's bloody not.

First off, I rang the hotel (as always) to discuss access with them. Fine. No mention of only twin rooms, although I said I wanted to book a double - did they do accessible doubles? Apparently yes. When I found out how much it was, I balked, and asked why the prices weren't the same as their website advertised. Because you have to book online, a-ha. Its cheaper on the website. Fair enough, it's common practice - although I prefer not to do this usually in case you can't specify stuff like access, ground floor room, and so on. So, I was concerned whether a disabled customer could make access requests online, and the staff member assured me there was a form where I could specify an accessible room was required. So that was ok. Rightie-ho. (Are any of you shaking your heads yet?)

So when I went through the booking process online, there was no form. Hmmm. But there was a booking reference number given to me after they'd taken my money and a call centre number to ring if you needed to make any further arrangements. So I cheerily rung it and explained the situation. Could I please have an accessible double room?

"No." she said. "Can't change any specifications." and just stopped speaking, like I might say "Oh, thank you" and go away. Bloody fussy disabled people, always wanting something extra... etc...

Instead, I said "WHAT?"

She realised pretty quickly this was the wrong answer. "Perhaps I could ring the hotel direct and make arrangements for you?"

I said "YES!" ans then after a small pause, added "Please".

Now, I'm a bit cantankerous, and frankly in my old age, suspicious of young sounding people in call centres. When I was a student, my flatmates worked in call centres, and it's a crappy job with crappy treatment for crappy money. Consequently, commitment to the job was not high, so to cover all the bases, I dropped the hotel sales department an e-mail saying this was my booking reference, I'd like an accessible room, and was it possible to reserve parking?" It's a bit sad when you're driven to do stuff like this, but honestly, previous bad experiences have the habit of turning you into a bit of a manic sometimes. I mean. look at me.

So I got home recently to find this e-mail saying (but not answering my question) that there was parking, and telling me where I'd find it. Not a direct no, we don't reserve it, which I'd not have really minded about, not being on my own. The real purpose of my contact had been simply to warn them a wheelchair user was imminent. On the end of the e-mail was this little remark, by the way, you're not booked in a double, it's a twin - ok?

Cue fuming and the inevitable question every crip has to face at one time or another... AM I GOING TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT THIS?

Like what? I really can't be bothered to find another hotel and go through all the bloody access foreplay all over again. I decided to ring the hotel and barter.

Could they move a double bed into the room? Where they aware that offering access wasn't really effective if the customers could access specific information about what it was? Would they give me a discount if they couldn't move a bed? Why doesn't the staff, the website and the call centre have anyone able to explain the policy of crips always = twin rooms? Do they swap other customers who've booked doubles into twins? and so on. Worst case scenerio, twin beds and a discount. Best outcome, a double bed gets put into one of the accessible rooms and the hotel staff, call centre and website enable people to specify double or twin accessible room in future. I feel you have to do this went you're a disabled person, or people'll never change. And it's cathartic to get something done, either for yourself or for everyone. Better than just sitting here and venting all this up, then going into a single bed muttering about how unfair life is. Spread it around!

So I'm ready to fight another day tomorrow. They're ringing me promptly at 9.00. Diligence to my concern is good, but I have shot myself in the foot - and done myself out of a lie-in.

You can't have everything, can you?


Katja said...

Good for you, and good luck.

Sue_W said...

I've just been through the same farce with Ramada Jarvis.
No one at the booking line or at the hotel (where I was unable to speak with anyone with fluent English) could tell me anything useful about their accessible rooms!
Most of them had to have the concept of an accessible room explained, a disabled room is one that wouldn't work!
So in answer to my bath or shower? query I got the confusing answer "yes", are there grab rails? "yes", what height is the bed? "bed height".
I gave up and have my fingers crossed and my stroppy crip hat at hand in case it isn't right!

Agent Fang said...

Ramada Jarvis?! I try to be discrete, but oh, how coincidental!
BTW, I could have had my lie in after all....

pricklefoot said...

Sincere thanks for taking the time. I know it will help another traveller down the line. (At least, that's what I murmur to myself to keep from pounding the phone on the wall when I'm doing a similar.)

Eliza said...

Am I misunderstanding, or are there TWO twin beds in this room? I realize I'm pretty spatially challenged, but wouldn't there be MORE room for a wheelchair in a room if the two twins were replaced with one double?! Oh, wait, I'm sorry: that would imply that they had actually THOUGHT about how people in wheelchairs actually do things. Like move. Nevermind.

I hope it all gets cleared up and you get your double AND a discount for your trouble. But, if not, I think you should make a big deal at checkout about how grouchy/horny you are because you had been excited to get some that night and hadn't been able to because of the celibacy bed. At least they'll be left realizing that crips have sex.

Sue_W: "a disabled room is one that wouldn't work." HEE. So true, so annoying.

Sue_W said...


It's a small world but I wouldn't want to pdust it!
I am booked at Ealing Common for Thursday and Friday night this coming week. On my booking confirmation it says a Double Room and as I have paid for me and him to stay, not got a freebie for a carer there had better be a double bed! I can pop my comments/review here if you don't mind/think it might be useful?

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