Budget Ibis Hotel, Valenciennes – Accessibility Review

This is an extended version of my TripAdvisor review. I had reviewed this hotel in terms of accessibility with the following in mind:

  • Wheelchair Access: limited
  • Physical Access: single floor / good
  • Disabled Parking: Excellent
  • Sensory: Adjustable lighting / No temperature control / some read noise / linen (plain cotton) / ambient noise – low / reception (strong smell of sandlewood)

Lovely clean room which looked well maintained & had a bath! (Something sorely missed when we’ve travelled before). Fab idea to have one of the kids beds above the double as this saves on room and our youngest was very happy with having her own nightlight. The beds are basic & sturdy (read ‘hard’) which suited me well, but Mr Softie husband wondered if mattress had been optional…

An image of the ground floor family room with a double bed, single bed, & bunk bed width ways over the double bed

Rooms were on the ground floor which meant that you could park right outside the room (lots of disabled bays & plenty of space to get out).

Panoramic image of car parking spaces & entry doors with disabled parking & ramp to doors

The room had a patio door at the back leading to a little patio area & grass, which despite being very close to the motorway, was peaceful and very welcome after hours in a car! The area itself is fenced off which allowed the kids to stretch their legs (with other children doing similar) & us a safe place to store our bikes just outside the door & give us a little more room.

WiFi is included in the price of the room which was very welcome and was a decent speed for general browsing.

Lady at reception was very helpful and took pity on us after our dreadful attempt at chatting in French (I forget words in English, so perhaps a road trip where I attempted to speak French, German, & English was maybe aiming a tad high!). There’s an accessible toilet in reception.

Breakfast was a buffet with coffee, croissant, yoghurt etc. Everything was fresh & very nice. My only issue was using the brilliantly installed wheelchair lift to get to the breakfast bar… which was locked & no one had a key! This was easily solved by sending the family up to the breakfast bar & sitting in the lower table area. This is a potential issue had I been travelling alone.

Wheelchair lift in reception

Getting to reception in a wheelchair is difficult (there is a 2″ step to get onto the ramp which was too steep for me to propel myself manual chair up myself ). Once in reception, there is a lowered desk, although the card machine doesn’t reach it.
Image of tamp to reception with step up get to ramp

There is no resturant on site & if you’re travelling on a Sunday there is very little available. An “emergency” McDonald’s is located 4km up the motorway (about 10 minutes). Usually, there is a resturant available at the neighbouring Novatel.

We booked a stopover here for a family room clearly stating that one person was a wheelchair user at the time of booking. On arrival, we were told that room layouts were either wheelchair accessible for 2 people, or family rooms. As I need physical help from my husband during the night, we couldn’t make use of the suggestion to book 2 separate rooms, so stuck with the family room.

There is a clearly signed wheelchair access route to the rooms from the car park, however this also contains a 1″ lip in order to get up to the walkway. The doors were wide enough to push my manual wheelchair through if my husband helped lift me over the raised frame, and aside from not being able to close the bathroom door & there being no grab handles (remember that this was not billed as the accessible room), the hard floors and clean layout meant that I could scoot about in my chair with relative ease. For those with anything bigger than an active user chair, this wouldn’t be an option.

Overall, it was perfectly pleasant as a stopover with our only grumble being the mildly terrifying ramps & the assumption that a family wouldn’t require an accessible room.

Advertisements

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

I’ve had an utter bitch of a day & I’m going to release it into the world with a great big rant…

I’m basically shit on Thursdays. I’m worn out and generally depleted of all reserves,  so when things conspire, I don’t handle them well. It’s a pattern that other people have noticed too, and today I think I can say I didn’t cope.

I woke up tired which is reasonably standard, but got dressed and sipped some coffee. On the way in I made mental plans to call for help when I got out of the lift to make it up the ramp without dislodging my shoulder like I did on Tuesday (pleeeeeeease hurry up electric chair!). I got to work and managed to park in the disabled bay which is on a weird curve and with the parking sensors being out atm careering into the wall is imminent. I crutch shuffled to the boot & unpacked the chair as everything became nicely damp from the pitter patter of driving rain. *You can do this. Just get in the warm*

The lift is at the back of the building, so off I propel up the ramp to the main door, along the corridor to the maths door,  up the slope to the humanities door, through the block fire door & along to the lift (very thankful that our students have exceptional manners and hold all the doors for me). I saw one of my fellow teachers at the bottom and asked if they’d meet me at the top for the final push. *going better!*.

I push the lift button. Nothing. Try my keys again. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. NOTHING. Urgh lift broken.

image

Dragged self into work because people had gone out of their way to change my teaching room to a more accessible one and now I can’t access it. Sat in chair contemplating if you can throw toys out of something that isn’t a pram. Asked a lovely child to go to the office for help.  Lovely office ladies arrive and in my overtired Thursday reaction burst into tears. Like a total professional (what is wrong with me???!). Just finding being alive frustrating. So, off to the office I propel to arrange cover for registration and hopefully fixing of the lift.

As it was, they turned the lift on and off again and it sort of fixed  (as in it works, but I have to bump the chair up a several inch ‘curb’ as it’s not entirely reaching the 1st floor. I feel so safe)

As usual, the kids were awesome, and lessons went as planned. I had no duty at break, so I wheeled back to the lift to get to the accessible toilet (downstairs). It’s not what you’re thinking, aside from the weird step,  the lift was fine. But the toilet was locked. Not locked as in occupied, but deadlocked to prevent use.

image

Back I go to the front office to ask if anyone has a key. No…. but as they are awesome ladies, this wasn’t going to stop them. They were straight on the phone to premises who said they’d deal with it later. But I need a wee now!

The only other accessible loo is the other end of the school, so I’d better get a wheel on. There’s only 10 minutes left of break. The bell went as I wheeled myself back and I resigned myself to being late for class.

Whilst I resigned myself to this just being a shitty day, the awesome ladies weren’t having any of it and found me in my classroom to tell me that they’d called in occupational health to make sure that I have everything I needed.

During lunch, I headed down to the junior part of the school for the final lesson. Still raining.

Finally time to go home and I headed out to the car. Across the playground, heaving my chair, in the rain. It doesn’t get more pathetic than this. I was tired & grumpy & wet.

image

For those of you who don’t live here and think British weather is just all about the drizzle, it’s not. The three villages I drove through to get home were all flooded. No one batted an eyelid – crappy weather is par of the course.

I miss the warm summer weather with its muted joint pain.

image

Mr Geek hands me a lovely bowl of noodles as I realise that I haven’t actually eaten all day aside from a herbal tea.

Now in bed with the tens machine massaging my knees and my lovely teddy bear fluff blanket warming me up.

Tomorrow will be a better day.