Is It Wrong to Book ADA (Accessible) Hotel Rooms (If You Don’t Need Them)?

If you’ve done a lot of traveling then you probably have thought about booking an accessible room or maybe you have just been put in one without requesting it.

In those situations, you may have had mixed feelings about taking up an accessible hotel room if you don’t actually need any of its accessibility features

But is it really wrong of you to take up one of those rooms?

Let’s take a look below and break down major questions that people have about ADA rooms.

What is an accessible hotel room?

An accessible room is equipped with features that facilitate ease of movement, including wider doorways for wheelchair access, spacious bathrooms with handrails, and sometimes a roll-in shower. Additionally, these rooms may have emergency assistance buttons, cords, or other accessibility aids to ensure a comfortable stay for individuals with varying needs.

Accessible hotel bathroom shower

How different are the accessible hotel rooms?

Sometimes you might not even be able to tell the difference between an accessible hotel room and a standard hotel room.

But other times, the differences can be much more noticeable.

For starters, doorways are often much wider allowing for easy wheelchair access.

Often you will find a much larger bathroom with hand rails to help people get around the toilet area and into and out of the bath or shower.

They may even have a roll-in shower (that might allow water to spill out which can be one of the major complaints of accessible bathrooms).

The shower may also have a bench and different types of shower heads that can be more easily used by someone sitting in the shower.

It’s not uncommon to find emergency assistance buttons or cords in the bathroom, either.

Sometimes, the entire room may also be larger, almost empty feeling.

You may even notice some minor quirks around the room. For example, the rack for hanging up clothes in the closet could be much lower or the furniture could be spaced out in an odd way.

The rooms are often located closer to the central area of the hotel such as the lobby.

For example, if you’re staying somewhere like a lodge that has multiple cabins, the accessible cabins will probably require the shortest walk.

Other times they may be closer to the elevator or stairs for the quick access.

Because the rooms can be located closer to higher traffic areas, they can be noisier which is sometimes one of the major drawbacks of these rooms.

If the room is designed to cater to those with hearing impairments, you may notice things like flashing lights.

Accessible hotel bathroom

Why would someone book an ADA room?

People book ADA rooms because it helps them get around the room and hotel easier.

But as for people who don’t actually need the accessibility features….

Usually the reason why someone would book an ADA room when they don’t need it is because it is the only type of room left (and possibly the only one left they can afford).

If it’s between a standard ADA room or a presidential suite, most people will just go for the standard ADA room.

Another reason why some people will book an ADA room is because the room is showing a discounted rate.

The discounts may not always be that much but sometimes people will do what they can to save a few bucks.

And finally, some people may book these rooms because they like having more space. Some accessible rooms resemble something closer to a junior suite.

Why do people not want the accessible rooms?

Some people may not want to be put in an accessible hotel room for the reasons mentioned above that deal with being located in high traffic areas that can be noisy.

They also may not feel comfortable taking up an accessible room in the same way that they would not want to take up an accessible parking space or bathroom stall.

But a lot of people don’t like to be put in these rooms because they feel like there is some kind of stigma or something.

It’s as if they don’t want to be “associated” with being handicapped or reminded that one day they may be in need of extra assistance for their daily needs. The sight of walls lined with hand rails can be triggering for some.

And finally, some hotel guests may be worried that the room has some type of weird functionality that is less than ideal.

This actually can be true sometimes with the bathrooms because you may find some of the layouts to be a little bit problematic or even confusing.

For example, sometimes the shower heads could be tough to deal with for someone 6 feet tall and other times you may not have as much counter space.

It also doesn’t help that sometimes the front desk agent presents the accessible room as something that you would only choose as a last resort.

“We only have an accessible room available, is that going to be okay?”

*makes frowny face*

Tip: Always ask the front desk if there is something odd about the ADA room just in case something might present a problem.

Accessible hotel bathroom

Can you get put in an accessible room without booking one?

Yes, you can absolutely get put in an accessible room even when you did not book one.

In fact, this has happened to me many times.

Probably, too many to count.

You could potentially increase the odds of this happening by trying to get early check in but other times it can just be random.

Sometimes if you are booking something like a corporate rate the relationship that your employer has with the hotel could dictate if you get placed in an accessible room or not.

Also, if you were traveling with the family a front desk agent could feel like a larger accessible room will be a better accommodation for you and your kids so they may place you in it.

If a hotel ever offers me an accessible room, I usually ask to be put in a different type of room but sometimes that is the only available room so you sort of have to just accept it.

Here are some tips for dealing with this situation

If you’re wondering about how to go about booking and dealing with getting put in an accessible room, here are some tips.

Always avoid booking an accessible room if you don’t need it

Some people believe that you should never book an accessible room if you don’t need it.

The feeling is that if you prevent someone from having access to an accessible room that truly needs it, it’s just not a very kind thing to do.

I agree with this line of thinking although I know that I’ve been guilty of booking these rooms in the past when I was unable to find anything else.

In reality, the number of people who need an accessible room is probably not so high every night that those in need of an accessible room are denied accommodation.

But still, lots of people don’t like to chance this.

Book an accessible room but include a note that you don’t need it

Sometimes the only type of room that will be available is an accessible room.

If you really need to stay at the property, one option you have is to book that room but include a note that you do not need an accessible room.

The thinking here is that the hotel will be able to shuffle rooms around by the time check-in comes around and you will not have to stay in the accessible room because it can be given to someone else (perhaps someone who needs it).

You can leave a note when booking on the website a lot of times or you can send an email or call the hotel if you need to let them know that you don’t need accessible room.

Sort it out at check-in

If you book an accessible room and don’t need it you can often get this sorted out at check-in.

Simply let the person at the front desk know that you don’t need an accessible room and ask them if they can put you in a different room.

Related: 14 Ways to Avoid Getting Walked by a Hotel

Final word

Overall, I would try to avoid booking accessible rooms if you don’t need them because it’s risking taking up a room that someone may truly need during their trip.

If you do end up booking one, consider notifying the hotel that you will not need it and you might be able to get moved to a different room at check-in.

And if you happen to get put into an accessible room with no alternative, try not to worry too much about it because chances are it’s probably not that big of a deal.

Also, try not to waste energy worrying about any associated stigma with staying in those rooms because at the end of the day nobody really cares.

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