Clayton Hotel Cardiff Wheelchair Accessibility Review

A hotel accessibility review of my stay in Clayton Hotel Cardiff for Cage Warriors 104 back in April!

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this hotel as a manual wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Booking

This booking process began with me ringing the hotel as I couldn’t find how to book an accessible room online and wondered if I was missing something. I was then told that all the accessible rooms were booked for the period of my stay, so I booked a standard room, knowing that was feasible with my manual wheelchair, and was told my booking would be moved to an accessible room if one became available.

Travel

The travel part was relatively simple as the hotel was a 15 minute or so walk from Cardiff Kingsway coach drop-off point once we’d arrived in Cardiff on Megabus from London.

Experience

The experience started before we’d even arrived at the hotel as they (the hotel) rang while I was on the coach to Cardiff to say that there was an accessible room available and that my booking had been moved to that room. When we checked in, the hotel completed a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP) which, as the name suggests, is a document detailing how I’ll be evacuated in case of an emergency such as a fire. This was the first time I’d had a PEEP done whilst staying at hotel that I know of and it was certainly reassuring to know it had been done. The room itself was on the 3rd floor which, as far as I remember was the first floor which actually had guest rooms. There was large wet room bathroom which was a welcome change as not many accessible hotel rooms, from my experience, actually have wet room bathrooms, There was also an automatic door button to get into and out of the room which, unfortunately, didn’t work. That was disappointing but not a major problem for me as I had someone with me to help me in and out of the room, but I’m aware it could be a problem for someone else.

Overall, this is one of the most accessible hotels I’ve stayed in and I would definitely stay here again if I visited Cardiff again.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Wheelchair Accessibility in UK Venues: Ranked From Best to Worst

Travelling the length and breadth of this fine island for concerts and MMA shows, I’ve been to a variety of venues with varied accessibility. With that in mind,  here is a comprehensive list of the highs and the lows of my experiences with venue accessibility.

So here it is, every venue I’ve reviewed on this blog ranked with a quick word as to why it was ranked that way. I do intend for this to be an evolving document with rankings changing as venue access changes and I visit new venues.

Bristol Bierkeller

The number one spot on this goes to Bristol Bierkeller. This may seem like a bit of an odd one since the Bierkeller could not be classified as  “accessible”, but the venue team were aware of that and did everything they could to make sure I could attend , which yes included carrying me up a set of stairs in a manual wheelchair. I’d rather that kind of  attitude to accessibility than being turned away completely (obviously full wheelchair accessibility is the best option, but I know that can’t be instantly achieved at some venues). I was sad to hear that the Bierkeller had  closed and it will always have a piece of my heart for making sure I could attend a gig I didn’t think was possible.

Viola Arena

Next up is The Viola Arena in Cardiff. The winning element here is the fact that the  wheelchair spaces are amongst the standard seating rather than on some specific accessible platform . This meant I felt more a part of the atmosphere which is definitely one of the best parts of attending Cage Warriors shows like the ones I’ve attended here.

Lyric Hammersmith

The bronze medal goes to Lyric Theatre Hammersmith. Even though our seats were pretty far back here, the staff assistance was great and really made me feel welcome. I had heard that the theatre had undergone refurbishment since my visit so I would be interested to see how the refurbishment changed accessibility or not.

Koko Camden

I won’t lie, when I researched this venue, I was slightly nervous about what their access would involve as I knew it was an older  (possibly listed?) building. However, this was possibly the simplest access in terms of knowing how access was going to work and not having to jump through too many hoops. It showed me that access to older buildings is possible and that “it’s an old building” isn’t a get out of jail free card for not providing access

Symphony Hall Birmingham

I felt this was a quite accessible venue, one where I was able to comfortably attend solo and not feel like I was going to struggle getting around. There was the issue with the restricted view, but this was explained to me BEFORE I bought my ticket for the gig so I was able to make an informed decision that I was ok with a possible restricted view.

O2 Arena London

This is probably the venue I’ve been to the most, for both concerts and MMA shows. I am sad to say that the accessibility and experience for disabled guests seems to be decreasing, particularly when I compare my concert experience to the experience I had at the second UFC show I attended there.

Indigo At The O2

The reason this venue drops behind its “big brother” venue O2 Arena London is mostly due to the VERY limited amount of wheelchair spaces, just a single cramped platform. Add to this the distance from the cage (it was an MMA show I was watching) and I sort of felt like this venue wasn’t entirely built for me to be there and I was intruding somewhere I wasn’t expected to be.

Resorts World Arena

Next up is Resorts World Arena in Birmingham. Now, I’ll be honest here, this ranking is probably a little harsh on the arena and it should probably be higher. Having attended both with a friend and solo, there were no issues with the access here but also nothing mind-blowingly brilliant, and it’s difficult to rank it amongst the others when there’s nothing specific to remember (good or bad) about the accessibility.

Excel London

The thing that struck me about the Excel London is just how busy and difficult to get around it could be despite being such a large venue. The fact that I was attending Comic Con London probably factored into that, but I think my experience at the Excel opened my eyes to the issues with accessibility at conventions in general.

Mama Roux’s

This is another one of those “not terrible but not great” access review situations, other than the accessible toilet being in an adjacent building and the card readers not being detachable. There was nothing particularly terrible about the access here but nothing particularly great either.

Asylum

The main reason this drops below Mama Roux’s is because, despite better access on the ground floor and similar accessible toilet issues to Mama Roux’s, I can’t access an entire floor of Asylum as it’s up a flight of stairs which downgrades the access rating a fair bit.

M&S Bank Arena

Next up is M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool. My main issue here is that the wheelchair space was at the top level of the arena seating  which limited the view. This was specifically annoying as being able to see the action is a major part of seeing a UFC show live, which is the event I was attending

The Roundhouse

Similarly to the M&S Bank Arena, the problem with the Roundhouse in Camden was that the wheelchair space was higher up at the top level of the venue which  limited the view.

O2 Islington Academy

This one was a bit of a double edged sword. On the one hand, the accessible “platform” section was at the front of the venue next to the stage which of course was fantastic in terms of view and what I could hear. However, on the other hand, having the platform right at the front meant having to fight all the way through to the back of the venue when you wanted to leave. This is quite difficult, as you can imagine, when an entire venue full of people is trying to do the same thing.

Kingston Pryzm

This venue goes here as it improves on my one issue with its predecessor Kingston Hippodrome (see below) with a lift to the accessible viewing area rather than a slightly dodgy ramp.

Kingston Hippodrome

My only issue with this venue was that it was difficult to navigate  ramp up to the access platform. Despite the access issues, I’m sad that this venue has now closed but look forward to checking out and reviewing the new venue for Banquet Records New Slang events (Pryzm Kingston).

Dingwalls

The problems here started before I’d even entered, and to be fair I’m not sure there’s that much the venue themselves can do about this. What am I talking about? COBBLES, the cobbled path to the accessible entrance was REALLY not fun for my back. Once we were in, the view from the accessible section was poor and we had to move around the section to near the toilets to be able to get a decent view.

Alexandra Palace

Ahh Alexandra Palace London, those of you who have read my review of this venue will know it’s not a nice review, and that’s all I’ll say. It would have been last in these rankings but for contact and a very lengthy email that was sent discussing the concerns I had raised and informing me about changes that had taken place since my visit.

HMV Oxford Street

I know that since I visited, this “venue” (technically it was a shop, but I attended an in store concert there) has closed but I still thought it worth mentioning. The accessible platform ticket policy, whereby I bought a ticket first and then rang to see if I could secure the one wheelchair space, was odd and felt slightly unfair. It also meant I missed out on multiple shows and had to throw away perfectly good, already purchased tickets and let them go to waste just because I had nowhere to sit.

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I hope this helps put everything I’ve written regarding access reviews into one place!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Viola Arena Cardiff Wheelchair Accessibility Seating Review

CW104 view, photo credit: Keshia Asare

Since I attended Cage Warriors 104 in April, I realised I’d attended 3 different Cage Warriors shows at what is now the Viola Arena (CW97, CW100 and CW104) and sat in 3 different disabled seating sections (Cageside, Block 15 and Block 17). With that in mind, I thought I’d expand on my earlier CW97 post  and compare the 3 sections and the pros and cons of each. Disclaimer, this only relates to the seating for Cage Warriors events as I haven’t attended the arena for anything else.

Cageside: We were cageside for CW97 in September, my first experience of a live Cage Warriors show.  This was definitely the closest seat to the action of the three (see the picture below for our view), it was also the best view for submission attempts and ground and pound work, which is particularly great if you’re a big fan of that side of MMA like I am. These seats were on the ground floor, almost in the traditional wheelchair accessible platform set up that I’ve seen at most gig venues, but I didn’t realise how ow close we were seated until we arrived, so these cageside seats were a great surprise and certainly a welcome perk of this whole wheelchair user situation that is my life! I do wonder whether this seating option still exists for disabled patrons though as it seemed like the arena layout had been changed when I tried to book for CW100 and disabled seating wasn’t available in that area anymore, but it may still be worth checking when you book. The one issue with this specific disabled seating area is that it is sort of felt detached from the crowd and the atmosphere which alters the experience a bit as the party atmosphere at a Cage Warriors show is half the fun. Having said that, I would recommend booking this disabled seating area if it’s the type you need and is available.

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CW97 view, photo credit: Keshia Asare

Block 15: We were in Block 15 for CW100 in December. The main change here is that we were up with the crowd (being at the top of the arena with the crowd in the seats below or in seats next to us, which made it feel as though there was more of an atmosphere which improved on the one issue I had with cageside seats. However, the downside of being  up a level (having taken the lift up) is that it was more difficult to see the intricacies of what was going on in the fights. Having said that, there was a screen in front of us which meant were still able to see the submission attempts and such which, as I’ve said before, was good for me with being a particular fan of that side of the sport. All in all, this is probably the seating section I’d most consistently choose (if it was available) given that cageside disabled seating does not seem to be an option anymore.

Block 17: We were in Block 17 for CW104 in April (see the picture at the top of this post for our view). My main point about this seating area is that it’s next to one of the bars, which is cool if that’s your thing but, as someone who doesn’t drink at events, it’s not mine. It also meant there was lots of traffic going past where we were sitting, which meant a night of bumped, barged, accidentally tripping people up with anti-tip wheels on the chair, and at one point being yanked backwards as someone used my chair to stand up. I’m not mentioning all of this for a whinge, it ends up hurting and causing me physical pain after a while and can also be quite claustrophobic feeling like you’re constantly in the way and tripping people up. There was also no screen (unlike Block 15) which made it difficult to  see when submissions were happening (did I mention the submission side of things is my favourite part?) Overall, it was difficult to fully focus and  enjoy the night  when I  constantly had half a mind on being bumped into, and I would not choose this seat again if the choice was offered.

Stay Invincible!

Invincible Woman On Wheels

Campanile Hotel Cardiff Wheelchair Accessibility Review

Photo Credit: Cardiff Campanile Website

A hotel accessibility review this time! This one’s a review of the Campanile Hotel in Cardiff following our stay in December.

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Booking

The booking process was fairly simple. I was able to book our room online and just put “wheelchair accessible room” in the requests section on the booking form. The hotel then rang later that day confirming that an accessible room had been put aside for us and outlining some of the accessibility issues we may face. These included the fact there was ramp/ gradient slope between the car park and the rest of the hotel grounds and that there was only a bath in the bathroom and not a shower. I was ok with these issues as it was only an overnight stay and I appreciated being warned about access issues prior to arriving.

Travel

In terms of travel, we took the Megabus from London Victoria to Cardiff Kingsway and then, due to the out of town location of the hotel, basically took Ubers everywhere. When I say everywhere, I mean we went from town to the hotel, then from the hotel to the event venue (the event being Cage Warriors 100) and then from the venue post event back to the hotel. The following morning, we finally worked out the buses and took the bus from the hotel to town. For those of you wondering, the buses have a fold out ramp at the front (to be folded out by the driver) and a wheelchair space with a fold out seat for the companion to sit with the wheelchair user. 

Experience

The first thing I noticed when arriving at the hotel was that the rooms were separated, as in physically in a different building, from the main reception, this was not what I was expecting having stayed at other Campanile hotels. The next thing to notes was the steepness of that ramp I mentioned earlier. It was REALLY quite steep, I appreciate that I’d already been warned about it, but it was quite difficult for my friend to push me up and down, so if there is any alternative route or any way to improve access I’d be open to helping figure something out. There was also an, albeit small, step into reception which my friend had to lift me over. While I had my friend with me this time, it did make me aware how difficult it would it be if I was by myself (even if it only seems like a small issue). The most annoying issue was that my wheelchair didn’t fit in the bathroom in a way that allowed me to also shut the door. You really can’t call a room fully wheelchair accessible if I have to get out of my chair and crawl to the bathroom!

Overall, while the booking process was simple and there’s some awareness of access issues at the hotel, a better understanding of the true meaning of “wheelchair accessible” would be welcome, and, as always, I’m willing to help the hotel improve their wheelchair access.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Wheelchair Accessible Travel: Cardiff, Wales

Here’s an access review triple header for you! On the basis of our Cardiff tourist day back in September. I review the access at Cardiff Castle, Pettigrew Tea Rooms and the National Museum Cardiff.

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Cardiff Castle

Ticket Buying

There is a system with reduced ticket prices for disabled patrons, but we didn’t feel like they were that significantly reduced for what I would be able to see of the castle. We then mentioned to someone how I wouldn’t be able to see a good chunk of the castle due to access and we were just let in to see the parts that I could get to!

Travel

We were able to walk about 15 minutes to the castle from our hotel (Ibis Budget Cardiff Centre).

Experience

Like I’ve already said, the castle was only partly accessible, I sort of expected that since it is a castle after all, but a lack of access is still irritating, regardless of whether it’s expected. I must say that what I could get to was very interesting, which probably made the lack of full access even more of an annoyance. The ramp to the section that I could access was also particularly steep, to the point where we had to go backwards down the ramp to stop me going too fast and essentially freewheeling to the bottom. We were able to mention this to staff on the day so hopefully something can be done to make the ramp less steep.

castle (2)

Pettigrew Tea Rooms

Ticket Buying

Being a tea room, this place was completely free to walk into and then you just obviously paid for what you ate/drank.

Travel

Again, were able to just walk here from the castle.

Experience

This place was more accessible than I was expecting (I tend to assume independent businesses are inaccessible for some reason, maybe I should quit with that thought process after this experience!) There was ramp access and a wheelchair accessible bathroom, I mean it’s basic access but somehow, I was still shocked which I think says more about the state of business accessibility in general than about this specific tea room. The space inside was probably a little tight for manoeuvring a wheelchair but the weather was decent enough that we were able to sit outside. There was also an art exhibition upstairs which was only accessible via stairs, which was a little annoying, but I was not overly annoyed as I myself couldn’t see how access was possible given the constraints of the building, although I am always willing to help improve accessibility if the business is willing!

Emma sits in front of a blue table with teapots and mugs on wearing a vest bearing the Gryffindor house crest from Harry Potter

I may be wearing Harry Potter merch but it shouldn’t be an invisibility cloak Photo Credit: Keshia Asare

National Museum Cardiff

Ticket Buying

Again, this was another free walk in situation.

Travel

Again, were able to just walk here from the tea rooms.

Experience

We entered through a separate entrance with a ramp/tunnel entrance under the main area of the building, which was accessed via a gate. This gate was opened by staff who were contacted through an intercom. I know some people say separate entrances and having to enter underneath the building like this hides disabled people, but frankly it makes me feel like some kind of queen or a secret agent and, I might just sound like a child here, but that’s never a bad thing! The lifts were also very “properly” done I thought, allowing access while still being designed to match the look of the building. The were also lockers which were an unexpected bonus as it meant we, as tourists on an overnight stay filling time before our coach home, didn’t have to lug all of our luggage all the way round the museum.

museum

All said, while there’s more to be done for sure, I found the accessibility in Cardiff as a tourist was pretty good. Particular bonus as a student that all these things were in walking distance from our hotel and freeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)

Cage Warriors 97 Wheelchair Accessibility Review (Viola Arena & Ibis Budget Cardiff Centre)

All photograph credit: Keshia Asare

Another new access review for an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) event, more specifically for Cage Warriors CW97 at Viola Arena in Cardiff, as well as a review of our stay at Ibis Budget Cardiff Centre.  As always, ticket buying/booking, travel and on the night seating and experience covered in this review.

(Disclaimer: I’m aware “accessibility” means different things to different people, as I said before, these are MY views on my experience of accessibility at this venue as an electric wheelchair user, I obviously can’t speak for others experiences but feel free to add your experiences in the comments!)

Viola Arena 

Ticket Buying

Ticket buying was as simple as could be, I simply went to the online site and selected disabled seating as the ticket type, so it was the same process as everyone else would go through for their tickets I then double checked that I’d only need one ticket (i.e. that the second “carer” ticket was included, which it was).

Travel

In terms of travel, there were 2 segments to the trip. The first segment from London to Cardiff was completed via good old Megabus.  The journey from our hotel to the arena was an Uber. It was quite simple in that we just had to fold my manual wheelchair and store it in the boot, sometimes we need to remove the footplates and store those separately depending on the size of the boot, but that’s something I approach on a case by case when the Uber turns up.

Experience & Seating

When we arrived at the arena, we realised it was one long queue, which everyone had to stand in, to get in, this was a little unexpected as I’m used to some sort of separate entry or route for disabled patrons. I must also say that security was very stringent, again, this was not problematic just unexpected, and I’d must rather security was stringent, and it took a while to get in.  once we did get in, I couldn’t have felt more like VIP that was on my wristband. It took a while to figure out where our seats were , but once we had, we were led through to practically cageside seats! After some BRILLIANT amateur fight and pro prelims, it was meet & greet time (anyone who knows me knows I’m definitely one for a meet and greet). However, we soon found that the meet & greet room was inaccessible so we brought this up with security to see if there was any way I could still be a part of the meet & greet. Now, let me be clear, this wasn’t me throwing some tantrum and expecting a big fuss and everyone to bend over backwards for me, but the way I’d see it, if you don’t ask if something’s possible, you don’t get it, and I’d really been looking forward to the meet and greet and knew I should be involved like everyone else. We were assured we’d get a meet & greet experience like everyone else, and true to their word, all those in the meet and greet made the time to come say hey and take a picture or 2 (see below). I’ll always thankful to them (and the entire Cage Warriors crew) for making sure I got the same experience as everyone else. Now, this next bit might sound a bit dramatic but it’s true, it’s situations like this that show me MMA shows are where I’m supposed to be, where I’ve found my people, a family of sorts, and one of the few events where I feel like everyone else and not just a disabled patron who has to have a different experience to the norm.

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Ibis Budget Cardiff Centre

Booking

I booked our hotel room over the phone. I prefer to do it this way, so I can talk to an actual person and make it abundantly clear I’m requesting an accessible room to ensure no mix ups with the booking. 

Travel

As I said earlier, the trip to Cardiff was with Megabus. Other than that, we walked to all of our other touristy/exploring things around the city.

Experience

Our room was, for my needs, a fully accessible room. It also had a full wet room, which I oddly see as a bonus. I think that’s because I’m used to the standard “accessible” bathroom which usually has a bath with a showerhead over it, which doesn’t fit my needs. The room also gave me enough space to wheel myself around and I appreciated the independence. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t some super fancy hotel room, but it didn’t need to be, not when it’s just a place to predrink before the event and sleep afterwards. I also appreciated that we were able to add breakfast when we arrived as we weren’t sure what we’d be doing in that regard, and how the trip was going to pan out, until we turned up. It was also helpful that this hotel was within walking distance to all the touristy things as this saved us public transport fares and any messing around with the accessibility of the Cardiff public transport system.

CW room        cw bathroom
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Thank you to the Cage Warriors crew for making sure I had the same experience as everyone else and just became Em, the girl who loves MMA and just HAPPENS to be in a wheelchair, as opposed to being just Em, the girl in the wheelchair. Thanks, must also go to the Ibis Budget Cardiff Centre team for providing somewhere to rest our heads in the madness of the weekend.

Stay Invincible!

Em (Invincible Woman On Wheels)