Lonely Planet Writer

True hotel rating system for travellers with disabilities on the way

A new company is hoping to build a universal rating system for hotels to judge how suitable they are for people with limited mobility.

Wheelchair sign.
Wheelchair sign. Image by Sean McGrath / CC BY 2.0

Although hotels around the world will often advertise themselves as “wheelchair accessible” – the reality on arrival for guests can often be entirely different.

Trekkable is planning to rank hotels on a grading from 1 to 100 in terms of access to individual rooms and access to the property itself.

Founder Benedict Jones told Lonely Planet: “The idea had been brewing in my head for years based on my travel experiences while having to use a wheelchair both domestically and internationally.

“[It came] from the personal and collective frustrations of people with disabilities, particularly mobility impairments, experience when booking a hotel among other things.”

He said it was often tricky to get information on hotels and that the booking sites, which most people use, offer no special options for searching for suitable rooms.

Mr Jones said they had visited hundreds of hotels and were hoping to get their first set of “trek-rated” hotels online early next year.

“We have strong partnerships within the disabled community among the biggest organisations that advocate and provide information to aid in the quality of their lives,” he said.

The ranking system operates across five categories, including access, general convenience and the standard of hospitality.

A key rating is room access: for instance, whether there enough space in the room in terms of furniture and its placement and if the guest can reach sockets, phones, curtains and temperature controls.

Hotels will also be scored on their bathrooms, and whether they offer easy access to a sink and a handheld shower attachment.

Long distances from the hotel reception to the individual rooms, thick carpets and ease of access at the main entrance will all be taken into account.

Trekkable customers are more likely to end up using in-hotel services for “absolute convenience” so the better those services, the higher the score.

A central location is also a major factor because taxis or other services might be required instead of public transport options.