Self-catering suites in the heart of Aberdeen.
This visit included a person who uses: Wheelchair
The location is excellent, access is easy thanks to very helpful and alert reception staff, and they can provide a room with an ensuite accessible bathroom. Our room was equipped with a microwave/grill, fridge, washing machine & ironing booard, dishwasher and sink, and we were able to prepare our own breakfasts and light evening meals and not have to conform to a hotel timetable. Four stars rather than five because there are a few significant ways in which the management could make life easier for the solo wheelchair traveller - see below. The Royal Athenaeum is managed by the Douglas Hotel, which is close by, and guests who don't want to self-cater could eat meals there. Euan's Guide has a review of the Douglas Hotel.
Transport & Parking
Can't comment on the parking. The Royal Athenaeum is close to Aberdeen Station, though the connecting streets (Market Street or Shiprow) are both marked as steep on Aberdeen City Council's accessibility map, and would be very challenging for a self-propelling wheelchair user. The Royal Athenaeum is on Union Street and there are bus stops close by, served by FirstBus. Aberdeen buses have helpful drivers, manual ramps and wheelchair spaces.
There is one step up at the entrance (this was explained to us when we booked), and the receptionists have a small ramp which they can deploy. The entrance consists of two sets of double doors. The receptionists were quick to open these for us. Once inside the circulating spaces are good, and the lift is big enough to contain a wheelchair user and an accompanist. The upper floors are (quite rightly) equipped with fire doors. These are quite heavy (as they should be) but could be a challenge for a solo wheelchair user. We were pleased to see that there was an emergency evacuation intercomm for wheelchair users on the landing close to our room.
Spacious, equipped with a wheelchair-accessible washbasin, wheelchair-accessible loo (side transfer from one side possible), both with good grab rails. The wet room shower is easy to operate, but has no grab rails near it. A movable stool is provided, but this was too low to be safely used in the absence of grab rails. A good bathroom and could be outstanding given a fixed fold-down seat by the shower and sensibly positioned grab rails so that a user who can get out of the wheelchair can move safely into the shower. This wheelchair user needed the accompanist's help. Also, see below.
Friendly, charming, very helpful and clearly well-used to wheelchair guests.
Anything else you wish to tell us?
Nice to have the option to self-cater and also have someone come in every day to make the bed, clean and change the towels. The upper shelves in the kitchenette were too high for a wheelchair user to access. The microwave/grill (which we didn't use) was on the right level. Going back to the bathroom, the alarm cord was in one corner between the loo and the wall, and the bathroom is generous in scale so a user could experience a fall which left him or her unable to reach the alarm. A second alarm cord nearer to the shower would be good. The soap and shampoo dispensers were quite hard to operate - this wheelchair user needed the help of the accompanist but approved of the contents! A very good place for a wheelchair user with an accompanist to stay and we enjoyed staying there. A little more work needed to make it suitable for an unaccompanied wheelchair user.
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