AT’s Wheelie Traveller enjoys a wheelchair-friendly stay in Sydney
Until recently, booking wheelchair-friendly accommodation online was almost impossible but more and more providers are including wheelie options on their web sites; I found this really helpful when booking my latest weekend in Sydney.
My destination was Rydges World Square so I used the Rydges web site to join their rewards program and book a wheelchair-friendly room.
Too easy! Even so, I did call to confirm the details as I have so often experienced problems in the past. I was assured that my room was reserved and the school holiday special, which included valet parking, was all in order.
When I checked in, my room had been given away! The receptionist explained that as my booking was for three people she assumed that I would prefer to be upgraded to a larger room.
Apparently able-bodied guests often book wheelchair-friendly rooms as they like the extra space in the shower. My scooter, and my printed confirmation that clearly showed ‘Wheelchair Accessible King Room’, was evidence enough that my need was genuine.
The receptionist handled the mix-up with the utmost professionalism. She arranged another room for the guest she had only just checked in to my room and breakfast vouchers to apologise for the inconvenience; she organised for housekeeping to ensure that the room was perfect; she provided breakfast vouchers for my family and drink vouchers so that we could have a drink in the bar while we waited for her to bring us the key. Complaint superbly avoided.
The room itself was fine for me, although a power point by the bed would have been good so that I could charge my scooter overnight. The bathroom had plenty of space and the shower drainage worked quite well. The grab rails, large shower seat and hand-held rail shower were all there as specified on the web site.
My biggest gripe was with the hand set on the shower which produced a pitiful spray of water, but then maybe all the showers were like that. The recessed alcove for the hand basin was a little cramped and two small shelves provided the only bench space.
After checking in we headed to the World Square monorail station just next to the hotel. My eight-year-old son loves the monorail and I’m a big fan too as it is completely accessible.
We alighted at the Galeries Victoria stop and discovered the massive Kinokuniya book store. A Japanese venture that has stores all around the world, it carries a startling array of foreign language books and magazines along with an extensive range of English titles. For bibliophiles like us, it was the perfect way to spend a few hours on a rainy day in Sydney and so refreshing to see children and parents alike sitting on the floor eagerly flipping through and sampling books.
Owing to my son’s love of astronomy, we planned to visit the Sydney Observatory on Sunday. As the forecast was for more rain, we chose not to book a night visit and instead went during the day. The web site mentioned that there was limited disabled parking so we rang ahead and organised for someone to meet us on arrival (they usually recommend that you book the disabled parking two weeks in advance).
My husband dropped me and my scooter at the front entrance and was then escorted to the car park by a friendly staff member. The free, self-guided tour was interesting and enjoyable, though obviously I was limited to the ground floor exhibits; accessibility in such an old building is not easy to provide! If you do want to attend a night session and can’t access the telescopes upstairs, you can organise to have an outdoor telescope installed by prior arrangement.
For a weekend in the city, Rydges World Square can’t be beaten for location. I could easily scoot out of the hotel lift and in and around the World Square precinct to sample some of its great restaurants and the city was accessible by monorail or the street.
I would be more than happy to stay at Rydges World Square on any future visits to Sydney.
Details: Rydges World Square
Rydges World Square // 389 Pitt Street Sydney, Ph: (02) 8268 1888
Kinokuniya Book Store // Level 2, The Galeries Victoria, 500 George Street, Sydney, Ph: (02) 9262 7996
Sydney Observatory // Watson Road, Observatory Hill, The Rocks, Ph: (02) 9921 3485