Bespoke Hotels has launched a new award to champion more stylish guestroom design for disabled travellers. The UK-based group, which operates properties such as Hotel Gotham in Manchester and My Hotels in Bloomsbury, Chelsea and Brighton, has teamed up with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) for the inaugural Bespoke Access Awards.
Comprising three strands – architecture, product design and service design – there is a total prize fund of £30,000, with judges including Paralympian Tanni Grey-Thompson and architect Sir Alan Stanton.
Robin Sheppard, chairman of Bespoke Hotels, and Paul Vaughan, Bespoke Access Awards project director, explained to Business Traveller why hoteliers needed to provide a more inclusive experience for disabled guests, who were all too often subjected to “joyless”, hospital-like rooms.
“A disabled room shouldn’t feel like a downgrade – they should be something to be enjoyed,” Vaughan said. “If we can make a 1 per cent difference, that will be a significant achievement in getting people to feel differently.”
It’s something that Sheppard has personal experience of, having previously suffered from the debilitating Guillain-Barré syndrome. “Ideally these should be the ‘champagne supernova’ rooms that give even more delight – that feel like an upgrade,” he said.
He added that he hoped the initiative would help the issue to gather momentum in the wider industry.
Entries were received from around the world, including as far afield as Hong Kong, Russia, and the USA. Winners to be announced on December 1.