Hotel designers don’t need legislation to guide them when it comes to the comfort of guests. There are no laws governing the provision of huge beds, luxurious soft furnishings or indulgent spa facilities.
But when it comes to guests with a disability, it’s common to find that ‘comfort’ begins and ends with legislation. Accessibility can feel like a bit of an afterthought; an inconvenient box-ticking exercise centred around ramps and rails, with little consideration given to the overall guest experience.
Leaving the ethics aside for a moment; there are 14.1 million disabled people in the UK, with an estimated combined spending power of £274 billion – so why is genuine, broad-spectrum inclusivity still not standard in more hospitality venues?
What inclusivity means
When we say a building is inclusive or accessible, we don’t just mean that people in wheelchairs can go in there, or that the toilets have grab rails and call bells.
Truly accessible design is the creation of interiors that consider all the needs of guests and staff, from the physical to the cognitive, sensory and even emotional. Accessible design means removing barriers that cause undue effort, but also stress and/or separation of people due to differing needs and abilities.
Fear of the unknown
For many designers and architects, this can be a daunting prospect. There’s a mistaken perception that access is complex and expensive, and there’s a lack of education around designing for access.
Lack of knowledge and a fear of getting it wrong means design professionals may prefer to stick to the well-trodden path of compliance box-ticking. They may shy away from making their designs accessible because of preconceived ideas and concerns about spoiling their desired aesthetic. They may even have the misconception that accessible facilities are not really needed that much, and therefore don’t warrant the same attention as mainstream suites, washrooms and spas.
This is where collaborating with an expert provider like Fitzroy of London can make all the difference, providing guidance and insight that empowers designers to imagine beautiful, indulgent spaces that also happen to be accessible.
Of course, we’re not just talking about wheelchair accessibility, since wheelchair users make up just 8% of the UK’s disabled population.
As well as understanding their legal responsibilities, hospitality venues and the people who design them need to understand the diverse needs of the other 92% who use accessible facilities. A hotel’s disabled client might be a wheelchair user – but they might also be a person with chronic arthritis, a stoma, or autism.
As well as invisible disabilities, let’s not forget that almost every disabled guest comes accompanied by a partner, family, friend or colleague for their stay, especially in the deluxe sector. When we think like this, it’s clear that for both ethical and economic reasons, accessibility should be the rule, not the exception.
With more than a decade of experience creating decadent, inclusive washrooms for some of the world’s most iconic hospitality venues, Fitzroy of London is perfectly placed to offer guidance and expertise on the creation of accessible spaces.
Luxury hotels are just one example of the environments we regularly work in – but regardless of setting, our belief remains the same: that people with a disability have the same rights to comfortable, indulgent experiences as anybody else.
This starts with helping designers to understand the need, and then create accessible washroom spaces that align seamlessly with their overall design intent. Whether it’s old-world glamour or contemporary minimalism, we help creatives to realise their aesthetic vision within an accessible framework that ultimately delivers the ‘wow factor’ for guests.
We’re committed to accessible design that doesn’t compromise, using the finest raw materials and quality UK manufacturing to deliver products with integrity and style. We’ll work closely with you to develop bespoke solutions, painstakingly matching our accessories to architectural features, existing hardware and overall aesthetics, for stunning hospitality washrooms that deliver the kind of extraordinary experience every guest deserves.
As well as developing bespoke products, we provide overall Doc M compliance expertise and design guidance, helping you develop versatile, intuitive spaces that go way beyond box-ticking to make you a leader in accessible service provision, and deliver a better experience for every single guest.
If you’d like to find out more about our products, or our in-house washroom design service, get in touch!