by Growing Needs | Nov 15, 2023 | Community, Lifestyle & Wellness, Lifestyle habits, Resources
Now let’s move on next to the choice of hotels for the less abled. To begin with, Singaporeans are spoilt. Yes, we are… as we have treated most amenities as “basic necessities”, that are not common elsewhere, so let’s tune ourselves back to “normal standards” before we travel.
Air Conditioning – THIS IS NOT COMMON AND IS NOT A BASIC in the Europe Continent. Take note that, many countries use more heating facilities than air conditioning, as they have almost 9 out of 12 months with temperatures below 22 degree Celsius. So, if you choose to travel to places like Santorini in Greece, Milan in Italy or Cannes in France, check if your accommodation provides air conditioning.
Lift landing floors – yet, another “non necessity” that is assumed by us. Many of the hotels in Europe with a long history may either be equipped with slow moving lifts (if it’s a five-star rated hotel), or have steps going to your rooms even if lifts are equipped. If you are very “lucky” (aka you did not read the fine service list while booking), you may end up with a hotel that does not come with lifts… So please read the amenities.
Example 1A: Room available in Paris
Example 1B: Another option in Paris
Example 1C: Room available in Santorini (4 *)
Example 1D: 4* Hotel with rooms available in Berlin, Germany.
Example of amenities to look out for:
Hotels that are wheelchair accessible, less stairs, bigger rooms and turning radius for public places.
When booking Airbnb or even apartments, look at the fine prints and details. Many of the privately owned apartments may not be equipped with lifts that can accommodate wheelchairs, some may even require you to take a few flights of steps before getting into the rooms/lobby. Take the above example 1A of hotel rooms amenities and facilities, even though the facilities look very “wheelchair friendly” (grab bar in toilet, wheelchair accessible registration desk etc), the very ONE issue will post the biggest challenge for wheelchaired tourists: Upper Floor accessible by stairs only.
At the same time, some very iconic hotels may be great to stay in but again, as they were built decades or even centuries ago, they may not be that mobile friendly. Same thing goes for historical ancient cities. There are also choices of rooms within a hotel, some may require you to take the stairs. As rule of thumb, the 5 star hotels with international names tend to provide more mobile assisted facilities, however, most of us would want to immerse into some “local flavour” by choosing more quaint looking choices
Another amenity you definitely have to look out for in Europe while booking your accommodation, is Air Condition.
Not all hotels provide air conditioning, and if you are booking apartments (whether via Airbnb or hotel booking sites), look out for the air conditioning icon/logo or if they explicitly mention if “single unit AC” is provided in the hotel room. It is best not to assume that all rooms come with it…
The same to look out for when travelling in China, if you choose to “experience the local flavour”.
Good news if you are planning for a trip in Asia: newer hotels are readily available in Asia, as tourism had only became big in our part of the world after jet travelling become popular (1950s), the introduction of the Eastern & Oriental Express (1971, yes it wasn’t that long ago compared to the Orient Express that started in Britain to Paris in 1889). Prior to that, much of the travelling is due to human migration (yes, you got it, the rich Asians uprooting and the 猪仔 being “shipped over”). Franchising of hotel chains did not get introduced in to Asia until late 20st century (think Japanese, after they rebuilt 20 years post WWII). This means, we have newer and better facilitated hotels around the region, with elevators (yes!) in most grand hotels, and basic ventilation and (lightbulb!) Air Conditioning (again, a “by product” of WWII and Japanese defeat).
However, that doesn’t mean that these are available throughout. As elevators were very costly to construct and maintain, most buildings then only opt for lifts to be included in buildings above 6 stories high, and sometimes, it does not stop on every level. Thus, look out for lift access and air conditioning options when you are booking for a guest house, Airbnb and other private home rental.
Next to look out for, will be wheelchair accessible rooms. If you are opting to soak in the beauty of China, by opting for 客栈 (guesthouse) (think martial art stories 武侠小说) ，四合院 (siheyuan or courtyard house), then please ensure you look out for wheelchair accessible options.
Example 2A: room available in Beijing
Example 2B: courtyard house, room on ground floor but no indication of wheelchair accessibility.
Example 2C: another courtyard house offer, indicating wheelchair accessibility
Once you are done checking, calling, planning, you are ready for an almost fuss free holiday!
Growing Needs would like to thank Ms Jeslyn Ho, who spent more than 50% of her time shuttling between cities over the past 25 years, for contributing to the article and sharing tips on travel for seniors.
Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.