Could try harder!

How do you reach those automatic doors?

 

The Ashford International Hotel is theoretically accessible but I don’t think they are really committed to getting it right.

We stayed here one night before getting the shuttle the next day and, as you can imagine, chose it for its convenient location rather than its character!

How do you reach those automatic doors?
How do you reach those automatic doors?

When we first arrived, we parked in a marked Blue Badge bay but then realised that to leave the car park meant negotiating a rather bumpy ramp so we decided to use the drop off space by the main door instead. There was a really rather bizarre wheelchair route from the car park to the door which involved a short pathway and then the choice of either rejoining the road or going over some very rough grass to reach the automatic doors. There was no way to get to the automatic doors without going over the grass. We were glad we decided to use the drop-off area but then realised we were going to have to use the revolving doors. Eventually we noticed a blue button with a wheelchair symbol which we pressed and I think it slowed down the speed of the revolving. It was fine but I wouldn’t really choose to use revolving doors in a wheelchair!

Weird wheelchair route Ashford International
Weird wheelchair route Ashford International

The reception desk didn’t have a lowered portion which again doesn’t really show commitment to making things accessible. We checked in and went off to find our room which was down a lot of corridors and meant negotiating heavy fire doors. The route the receptionist indicated was actually not the shortest route!

Weird wheelchair route Ashford International
Weird wheelchair route Ashford International

The room was good and spacious but the bathroom was rather strange. It had a very good shower seat and the basin could be raised or lowered as required but the basin was so close to the loo that you had to sort of sidle in to access the loo. Not brilliant for anyone let alone people for whom sidling is not that easy! The accessible loo in the lobby was an awful lot easier to use.

Not much room to access the loo!
Not much room to access the loo!

This is starting to sound like a list of moans. When we went to the restaurant we discovered that the tables were not the sort you can sit at in a wheelchair so I had to transfer into one of their dining chairs. Generally, I like sitting in a dining chair but when you’re tired it can be easier to just stay put in your own chair.

Restaurant Ashford International
Restaurant Ashford International

On entering the restaurant we were greeted with the information that I was the “Guest of the Day!” What treats did this entail? A plate was put on our table with Guest of the Day piped on it in chocolate and sprinkled with stars. Our excitement and gratitude knew no bounds. Actually, it explained the two mini bottles of prosecco in our room with a note addressed to Hayley explaining that she was Guest of the Day. I was evidently Hayley.

I can’t actually remember much about the meal, other than that we didn’t fancy any of the starters so had mains and desert. The staff were very pleasant and efficient.

Revolving door, Ashford International
Revolving door, Ashford International

We then decamped to the sitting area in the lobby which was rather chilly as the outside doors were open at the far end.

Tricky ramp to exit carpark, Ashford International
Tricky ramp to exit carpark, Ashford International

Breakfast next day was in the same restaurant so there was the same issue with seating but the breakfast was fine with plenty of choices. Could have done without a member of staff having absolutely violent BO, though.

To summarise, a conveniently placed hotel with some accessible features but we would not stay there again, it was just too much like hard work! They emailed a link to a feedback form and I ticked the box asking to be contacted but have not heard anything back, showing yet again that they are not really committed to great customer service and accessibility. Their loss!

For more details and photos, see my review on Euan’s Guide.

Click here for more accessible places to stay.

Ye olde accessible pub!

Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent

The Black Horse Inn at Thurnham near Maidstone in Kent is an 18th-century inn that manages to be accessible too!

The Black Horse Inn, Thurnham, Kent
The Black Horse Inn, Thurnham, Kent

We stayed here one night on our way back to York from Folkestone and although I’m not sure I would stay here again as there are probably other, better places in the area, it was fine and convenient and better than the Ashford International we stayed at on the way down. (that’s another story!)

Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent
Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent

The old part of the pub has been extended sympathetically so that when you’re inside, you can’t really tell where the old parts ends and the new parts begin. According to the website, the pub is mentioned in The Canterbury Tales, so presumably there was an earlier pub on the same site. The accommodation is in barns across the car park from the inn, the four rooms at the top of the slope being accessible, family rooms.

Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent
Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent

The rooms are pleasant and spacious, ours had a double bed and a single plus a couple of tub chairs, coffee table, tea and coffee making facilities (the UHT milk said it tasted like fresh milk and it did!) and a spacious wet-room style bathroom with a fold down shower seat, a couple of grab rails and two sinks, one lower than the other so more convenient for wheelchair users.

Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent
Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent

To get into the pub, they have ingenuously created a brick-paved pathway that takes you up to the back of the pub, although you could go via the car park if you preferred. When we arrived, it was Sunday lunchtime and extremely busy but once we were checked in, (there is a separate reception, but it was closed) we were able to park opposite our room or you can park directly outside and there was a slope to get in to the room.

Accessible pathway at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent
Accessible pathway at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent

We ate in the pub in the evening. The tables were not ideal with a wheelchair but you could get pretty close up to them. The food all sounded great and although it didn’t quite live up to expectations, it was fine. I did the terribly English thing of, when asked if the meal was all right, I said it was fine when in fact the pork belly I had chosen was rather dry. We had a very nice Greek sharing platter for a starter and my glass of rosé was very good so all in all, a good meal. IMG_1725

Breakfast was good with plenty of choices: I had smoked salmon and scrambled egg, Pete had a full English and there was toast with jam and fresh fruit and yoghurt.

Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent
Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent

The staff are pleasant and efficient, it was easy to find, in fact it was surprising to find such a quiet little village so near to the motorway, so a very convenient place to stay.

Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent
Accessible, family rooms at The Black Horse, Thurnham, Kent

For more detail on the accessibility and photos, see my review on EuansGuide and click here for more accessible places to stay, eat at or visit.