London was calling our name when our favourite band, Kings of Leon announced they’d be headlining at BST Hyde Park festival on 6th July. Having never been to London before other than an overnight stay before a trip to Florida when I was nine years old, but we never left the hotel until we headed to the airport. So I was really excited to take my first ‘proper’ trip to London and see KoL.
Our first two nights in London were spent at Park Plaza County Hall on Addington Street. I was interested to find out how this 4-star luxury hotel would rate for wheelchair accessibility.
Park Plaza County Hall is located in the heart of London on the South Bank with some of the city’s well-known sites within close walking distance. From here you’ll be able to access the London Eye, Westminster Bridge, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Waterloo Station and more.
We decided to book an uberWAV from Euston Station to the hotel and I’m so glad we did as the 30 minute journey only cost £8. Amazing. The driver was also incredibly friendly and found a safe spot for me to get out of the taxi away from the traffic. The street outside and the hotel’s entrance were flat and accessible. There was a revolving door, but on each side, there is also a wheelchair accessible door with a push button to open. We actually never had to do this ourselves as there was always hotel staff happy to open the door whenever they saw us arriving. The hotels exterior was lovely and beautifully lit as night fell. It was clear to see why Park Plaza County Hall is a 4-star hotel.
Entering the air-conditioned lobby was a welcome relief from the scorching heat outside. The reception area was clean and smelt amazing. The front desk staff were all lovely, especially the woman checking us in (unfortunately, forgotten her name). We were given a form to complete in case of an emergency. Although check-in went smoothly, I did notice there was no lowered area for wheelchair users so I had to rely on Allan to check us in and complete the form.
As we were staying during the opening week of Wimbledon, the hotel was decorated for the occasion with tennis balls in vases as well as a ‘Game, Set & Match’ display.
We made our reservation for an accessible junior suite back in January. Having never stayed in a Park Plaza hotel before we were really looking forward to our first stay in London being with this hotel brand. Especially as we had read so many great things about the hotel including its amazing view overlooking the London Eye and Westminster.
With our room key in hand, we excitedly headed to the lift in search for our 12th-floor suite. The glass lift offers internal views of the hotel and rolling out of the lift we were met by a huge map of London. Perfect for an overview of the city before setting off on a day of sightseeing. The spacious hallway was lined with a plush deep pink carpet adding to the hotels luxurious status.
Junior Suite #1228
As soon as the door to our junior suite opened we were hit with one of the best views we’ve ever had from a hotel room. The beautiful London skyline with the London eye gently turning was looking lovely. I quickly rolled across to the large window to take in the rest of the view. I couldn’t believe this was our view for the next two nights.
Upon entering a hotel room I always do a quick look around and analyse the accessibility of the room. I can usually tell straight away whether it’s going to work for me or not. Space for moving around in my wheelchair and the layout of the bathroom being two of my most important factors for a successful stay. However, in all the excitement I had almost forgotten about the rest of the room.
After admiring the view we made sure to have a look around our suite before relaxing. Space wasn’t going to be a problem as the bedroom was separated from the living area, both equally spacious and accessible. Everything seemed perfect until we looked in the bathroom. My worst nightmare was about to come true….but first, let me show you the rest of the suite
As you enter the room there is a wide hallway with the bathroom on the right and the living area straight ahead. This room had a sofa bed, desk, large flat-screen TV as well as a kitchen area with microwave, sink and mini-bar. The desk was a good height for rolling under without banging my knees and was positioned beside the ceiling to floor window, which provided the best view of the London Eye, day and night. The TV was above the desk and directly across from the sofa so it was good for Allan to relax on after being out at the BST Hyde Park festival (review coming soon) all day in the heatwave.
The bedroom was just off from the living area and also offered amazing views. I was happy to discover that the double bed was comfortable so I didn’t have to use my inflatable mat. I love when that happens. Some beds in accessible rooms can be very high, but this bed was lower so it was easier for transferring to and from my wheelchair. There was space underneath if a portable hoist is required and there was a plug socket on each side of the bed for charging mobile phones, wheelchair etc.
The bedroom was large with inbuilt wardrobes as well as another desk and TV. I loved lying in bed and being able to stare out to the London Eye before going to sleep and when I woke up.
As you can see from the photos above, the bathroom was not accessible at all. So much so that my wheelchair couldn’t even fit inside. We had a reservation for an accessible junior suite with roll-in shower, but what we got instead was just a regular junior suite with a tiny bathroom with a bath and shower (with a step up to it) which was completely inaccessible. My heart sank when I discovered this.
I called down to the front desk and explained the situation. The person I spoke with didn’t quite understand, so I was passed to the Guest Relations Manager and I had to explain the situation again. It felt like a battle trying to make them understand the problem I had with the bathroom. The GR Manager couldn’t tell me why I was given a regular room instead of the accessible one which was booked 7 months ago. I even double and triple checked it was an accessible room in the lead up to our stay.
Feeling like I was getting nowhere, I was told she would call me back as she had to look into it. When she called me back I was told that the hotel was fully booked and there was nothing they could do. After some time of back and forth, I was then told that there was a super deluxe room on the 5th floor, but it didn’t have the same view as the one we currently had, only an internal view looking onto the lifts. Not exactly what we had in mind.
Disappointed and frustrated that I was having to give up a suite that should have been accessible, through no fault of our own for a completely different room was not acceptable. I asked to keep the suite but also have the other ‘accessible’ room for showering etc. The Guest Relations Manager refused, saying this could not be done due to being fully booked.
Eventually, I was passed to the hotel’s Operational Manager, James, who sympathised with our situation and understood how upsetting the whole thing was. He explained that the mix up with the rooms was down to “human error” and was very apologetic for the inconvenience. Keen to find a solution that would best suit my needs, he suggested that I keep the suite and have the other room on the 5th floor as my “shower room” so to speak. I explained to him that although not the most ideal solution it was one I had suggested to the other manager and it was rejected. However, James was more than happy to go ahead with it.
We had been checked in for two hours by the time everything was sorted. It was 7pm, we were hungry and hadn’t been able to relax at all. James kindly offered to pay for dinner due to the inconvenience the mix up had caused.
Accessible Super Deluxe #520
Our second room was located on the 5th floor and this time it was an accessible room with a walk-in shower. Although not as big as the junior suite it was still a decent-sized room with plenty of space to manoeuvre my wheelchair.
The bed looked very comfortable and there was also space underneath for a portable hoist as well as an emergency pull cord at the side of the bed. The only window in the room looked out onto the lift and hallway so there was no real natural sunlight. It would be advisable to keep your curtains closed unless you want other guests to look into your room.
The bathroom was smaller than I’d expect for an accessible bathroom, but it was manageable for me during the short periods I used it. The roll-in shower had a nice sturdy fold-down seat which could be moved along the wall due to being attached to a sliding panel. The shower seat was positioned fairly low in comparison to the toilet (as you can see in the photo). From looking at the shower seat we thought the height could be adjusted, but it wouldn’t budge when we tried. There was an emergency pull cord next to the shower seat, but it was too high up and didn’t hang all the way to the floor as it should. The shower floor wasn’t in very good condition. It looked very grimy and in need of a revamp. Slightly disappointing for a 4-star hotel.
The toilet was positioned in the corner next to the shower which meant there was no space to park my wheelchair beside the toilet. This could be very difficult for wheelchair users who require side-on wheelchair transfers. There was one long fixed grab bar that ran from the toilet all the way to the bathroom door, which had towels placed on it. Other than this one there was no other grab bar at the toilet, which I found to be quite unsafe for me as I prefer to have one on each side for support and security.
As I mentioned before, we ordered room service for dinner on our first night. I opted for the butternut squash salad with a side of vegetables and it was lovely. Please note: all those chips weren’t just for me! I did share. Honest! We also had breakfast in our room on both mornings as it was much more relaxed than having to rush to get ready to head down for breakfast. I loved taking it easy and enjoying breakfast in the comfort of our room especially with this amazing view we had. It was a great way to start our mornings in London.
Despite being given a junior suite that wasn’t accessible and the issues we had trying to solve the hotel’s error, we still managed to enjoy our stay at Park Plaza County Hall. It wasn’t the first impression I nor the hotel had hoped for. The views from our suite of the London Eye, Big Ben and Westminster were spectacular day and night. The location of the hotel was fantastic and we enjoyed how close we were to some of the main attractions and public transportation. The South Bank is a lovely area to stay and I’d definitely like to base myself in this area in the future. I would also be very interested in staying in the accessible junior suite if I was to consider staying at this hotel again.
More posts on London coming soon.
I was welcomed as a guest of Park Plaza County Hall for the purpose of this review but as always all opinions are my own.