Design for all

December saw the presentation of the first annual  Bespoke Access Awards – a competition to design fully accessible hotel rooms, run in association with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

Sponsored by Bespoke Hotels, the awards were presented at a ceremony last week at the House of Lords. In his introductory address, Bespoke chairman Robin Sheppard lamented the poor provision of accessible facilities in many hotels, saying “it is time to take the hospital out of hospitality”. Sheppard added that the majority of non-disabled guests who were allocated a disabled hotel room then asked for an upgrade – a damning indictment of the quality of many disabled rooms.

Design and technology in the hotel sector have come on so far in recent years it’s rather depressing to think that disabled rooms are still something of an afterthought at many properties. There’s no need for that to be the case, as the inaugural winner of the the main award, the £20,000 Celia Thomas Prize, demonstrated. The AllGo system, designed by Motionspot & Ryder Architecture, is a universalised approach to hotel room design, aimed at ensuring all hotel rooms are functional, flexible and accessible.

Let’s hope these awards can be the catalyst for a new way of thinking and a more inclusive approach to hotel design.

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