Artist Christopher Samuel has designed a hotel room that is awkward, uncomfortable and vexing to highlight an “extreme lack of understanding” around accessibility.
Samuel, who uses an electric wheelchair, created his installation Welcome Inn at Art B&B in Blackpool. The room, which is available for guests to stay in, features doors that don’t close, a bed that must be accessed by scrambling over a 3ft ledge, lights in awkward places with hard-to-reach switches and a bathroom where nothing can be easily obtained – least of all the toilet paper.
The inspiration behind the project was Samuel’s experience of being placed in emergency accommodation in an ‘accessible’ hotel room. He told The Caterer: “The room was labelled accessible, but it turned out to be the opposite, just getting into the door was an experience.
“It’s an extreme lack of understanding and I was confused why it would be labelled that way. For instance, I couldn’t use the shower because it was over a bath that I couldn’t get to, I couldn’t shut the bathroom door, couldn’t use the toilet. I found it really disturbing.”
Samuel said designing the room wasn’t difficult because of the frequency with which he encounters such things.
He added: “Normally I encounter some sort of barrier, so the room was based on things that myself and others find. For instance, the positioning of the bed is crucial because as a wheelchair user you need space to manoeuvre around it safely and conveniently, and the table or desk needs to be at the right height.
“These elements are not just pulled out of nowhere, they’re real issues that people, including myself, have to deal with. These things make a big difference, most people look forward to travelling and spending a night in a hotel. I don’t, that’s the last thing I want to do, things are not set up for disabled people.”
Samuel urged those designing hospitality businesses, and all public spaces, to speak to people with disabilities to sure they really are inclusive.
Welcome Inn was commissioned by Art B&B and Unlimited. It can be seen at Art B&B in Blackpool, which is now open for guests. Samuel said the feedback received so far has been fantastic with guests describing the room as “eye-opening” and “life-changing”.
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