The Brocket Arms, Hertfordshire

We stayed one night at The Brocket Arms last year after flying into Heathrow from Spain before heading back up north the next day. The pub took some finding in the lanes round about but once there, we were pleased we’d chosen it as it was peaceful and relaxing. The exterior of the pub and the accommodation (in converted outbuildings across from the pub) are charming and the room had been refurbished to be charming too – it still had some old-fashioned fittings but generally was very nicely decorated and furnished; shame someone hadn’t cleaned the loo properly but otherwise fine. I think it would be wheelchair accessible but I can’t quite remember so it would be worth checking. You could park right outside on the gravel carpark. The distance from room to pub is about ten yards.
The pub is ‘olde-worlde’ with wooden beams, a mixture of furniture etc. We ate there in the evening: pub fayre, but done well (there were specials available but we didn’t realise until afterwards so I don’t know what we missed!). Breakfast was mixed – good coffee and cooked element, toast OK, juice poor and plastic jam – very odd as they sell jars of fabulous local jam which would have been a vast improvement! At least we were able to bring some away with us to enjoy at home! The staff were very helpful and pleasant and on the whole I would recommend this place although as of course everyone has different accessibility needs, so worth checking in advance.


Middlethorpe Hall, York

We recently had a team ‘away day’ event here in the Barlow room. The website describes it as having access ramps and disabled facilities, but doesn’t mention the gutter which you need to negotiate before you reach the ramp! I was nervous of scooting over the gutter (my scooter is not really designed for rough terrain!) and got off and had colleagues move the scooter over it the first time but braved it after that and it was OK just rather a jolt. I’m not sure how users of self-propelled wheelchairs would find it. The carpark is at some distance but there is no problem about being dropped at the door. Once inside, it is a lovely venue, very well-appointed and with one of the poshest accessible loos ever!

We had lunch in the main house, which despite being a historic house, had a ramp up to the entrance to avoid the steps, although there was another gutter to negotiate, then staff had placed ramps over two short flights of stairs – rather steep but manageable and the staff were very helpful. Scooting around indoors was fine but the lavatories are on the floor below and although there is a lift, a staff member felt my scooter would not fit in. So, it was back to the Barlow room before we had a guided tour of the lovely gardens – flagstones and gravel paths and short grass with just one step which might be avoidable if you went a different route.

It was a lovely experience – lunch was fabulous! – but I’m not sure I would recommend this place if you were looking for a truly accessible venue.

Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5

We stayed one night here before our flight to Spain last year in what was supposed to be an accessible room – it did have grab rails and emergency call buttons so was obviously supposed to be a disabled-friendly room but it had an over-bath shower which wasn’t very helpful. I contacted the company and they have apologised and said they do have rooms with walk-in showers, so I wish we had asked to change rooms! As we were just there one night, we decided to stay there and make the best of it. Other features such as a low swiveling arm chair made it un-userfriendly too. It would be so easy to get it right, you would think such a huge company would try a bit harder. The food in the restaurant was patchy (I think I chose better than my companions!), breakfast was good the disabled parking spaces were very near the entrance and staff were friendly so a perfectly good place to stop before catching a flight, in fact we’re staying there again this year so I’ll report back on whether we get a more easy-to-use room!

Parador de Alcalá de Henares, Spain

We stayed here for the last night of last year’s holiday in Spain – it’s pretty convenient for Madrid’s Barajas airport. The parador is based around an old convent but generally is very hi-tech and modern, almost too much so: a panel at the bedside allowed you to switch off the lights in the whole room, but you couldn’t have one bedside light on without the other being on too – not really a technological advance! The whole place was completely accessible apart from, I think, a tiny step down into the courtyard but I might be misremembering and the bedroom had both a wet-room style bathroom and also a bath with shower over too.
It is in the town centre and has a courtyard rather than any gardens so not as relaxing/get-away-from-it-all as some but peaceful nonetheless. The staff were pleasant, the food good with plenty of choice at breakfast and the town is very pleasant and historic too. I would definitely recommend this for a brief stop.

Parador de Tordesillas, Spain

Some of the reviews of this Parador talk of it being a bit past its best, but having stayed in several other Paradors on last year’s holiday in Spain as well as lots of others at other times I would say it holds up well – they are all different and have different qualities. This one is good at being relaxing, child-friendly and laid back. It didn’t particularly seem in need of smartening up so far as I noticed. What was an issue for me was that while you could enter the lobby on wheels (I use a mobility scooter when there is lots of ground to cover), you couldn’t then access the rest of the hotel. That required entering through the door that gave access to the pool and garden – not a big problem, it was a doorway people used to access the garden, so not a ‘tradesman’s entrance’ but not ideal. To use the sitting room off the lobby we would have had to go out through this door then around to the front and it would still have meant a few stairs so we didn’t bother and didn’t need to as the weather was lovely and we sat out in the garden all day, where people were using the pool and sunloungers, all surrounded by pine groves..
The staff were friendly and helpful, the food good with the usual choices of local and national dishes in the evening (although with a distinct lack of vegetables unless you chose very carefully, which is so odd in a country that produces an abundance of great veg!) and plenty of choice at breakfast: Spanish omelette, hams and cheeses, pastries, fruit, yogurt etc.
We really enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere and the historic town of Tordesillas where the C15th treaty was signed to divide up South America between Spain and Portugal is just down the road.

Gardens, Parador de Tordesilla
Pine woods, Parador de Tordesillas
Pine woods, Parador de Tordesillas

Posada Camarga, Santiago Millas, León

We stayed a night here on our way to Asturias in northern Spain because the place we were supposed to be spending the night at, in a spirit of helpfulness, had swapped our ground floor room for a second floor one so we would be away from the noise of a wedding that was going on, forgetting that we had booked a ground floor room because I have poor mobility. The manager rang a couple of other places and got us booked in at this charming place that was much quieter than the original place would have been and we felt we had really struck lucky!
Posada Camarga was wonderfully quiet, beautifully converted and decorated and we were welcomed with tea and biscuits! There are ground floor rooms and ours at least had a walk-in shower. The proprietress is Spanish but her English is so fabulous you wouldn’t guess; she is an ex-business consultant who has created a lovely hotel and produces the delicious meals available in the evening, from a menu with 3 choices each for each course. The courtyard was full of flowers and we could hear birds singing – a vast improvement on the slightly sozzled renditions of Abba going on at the place we would have stayed! I was able to use my scooter as there was a ramp leading from the rooms to the main house where dinner and breakfast were served. The countryside around was nothing special but if you were on your way somewhere like we were and wanted somewhere quiet and relaxing, with a friendly welcome and simple, delicious food, I recommend this place wholeheartedly.

Parador de La Granja

Parador de La Granja, Spain

Here’s a review I wrote after our holiday in Spain last year. After flying into Madrid, we picked up our hire car and this was the first place we stayed.

We stayed two nights here at the start of our holiday and got thoroughly relaxed which was the plan. My mobility is bad and I was hoping to use my scooter around the building so was really pleased that I could – a member of staff explained where to park around the back and met us there and showed us the way in. There was some issue with our booking both here and at another Parador – they asked if I had booked through an agency when in fact I had booked directly through their website; I don’t know what the issue was, plus they had missed the fact that I’d requested an accessible room but they sorted that out and showed us to the room that was really spacious and comfortable.

The breakfast did not seem to be quite as good as I remembered Parador breakfasts to be – no tortilla or hard boiled eggs, for example, but it turned out you could order scrambled eggs. Food in the evening: the first night I had fish with lots of bones – rather off-putting – but the second night had the tastiest beef dish I have ever had!

The building is great – old but sympathetically modernised. Staff were great too – really helpful when we wanted to look online for directions to our next hotel. We had a bit of difficulty finding this place, actually, as did other people – the signs are not that obvious but you turn left as you enter the gates of the complex.