On 17th March 2018, we made the 3hr 45min train journey from Greater Manchester to Glasgow for our much anticipated accessible skiing lessons adventure with the help of Disability Snow Sports UK (a blog on this is in the works!) Of course we needed some place to stay and after some major digging for accessible hotels that were within our budget we ended up booking in at the Ibis Budget Hotel in Springfield Quay, Glasgow just 15 minutes by taxi to where the Skiing lessons would be held in Snow Factor, Braehead.
I originally planned to stay in one of the hotels closest to Intu Soar, Braehead such as the Travel Lodge or Premier Inn but as money was so tight I just couldn’t book until last minute and by that time those nearby hotels had zero availability for that particular weekend. I was skeptical about staying at a lesser well known budget type hotel but from the photos online, it seemed fine and had the basics. Our focus wasn’t to have a luxurious hotel room (though money aside that would of topped off the trip!), but merely have somewhere that had the access and room for 2 adults and 1 child.
Naturally as Ava at the time of writing this is just 2 1/2yrs it wasn’t feasible to take her with us. Instead she had a blast staying with her favourite Aunty for a long weekend. Thank you again Aunty C if you’re reading this!
When we arrived in Glasgow Central Station, I had already pre-planned the bus route (which Google Maps confirmed was just 20mins) to the hotel. Unfortunately Abbie was very tired and irritable with the length of the journey already, plus we had Britain’s 3rd snow storm of the year to contend with, which by some coincidence started on that day! So we decided to flag down a black cab. Now anybody who knows me knows going by taxi makes me very nervous and I only do it if absolutely necessary. I hate navigating telescopic ramps in my powerchair, plus due to the height of my chair I have to tilt it till I’m almost laying down to get in and then sit the chair back up once inside. My worse fear is my wheels coming off the ramp. Thankfully Glasgow Taxis had ramps that were one broad solid piece that anchored into the floor of the taxi, making getting in and out so much less nerve-wracking.
We arrived at the Ibis Budget Hotel in Springfield Quay around 4pm. We were excited to see its part of a retail shopping park. We were surrounded by all your favourite restaurants Frankie & Bennys, Nandos, TGI Fridays. They had a KFC and big stores such as NEXT home and even a huge gym and a MECCA Bingo (if you felt lucky!) I saw when researching that it was near these things but didn’t realise the hotel was part of the actual retail park. A very nice surprise and an even bigger one came later!
The hotel has step-free access and clear decorative wall instructions telling you to go upto the 6th floor (via 1 of 2 spacious lifts) to the hotel reception to check in and out. The lift managed to fit me in my large powerchair, my 5 year old, another adult and 2 large suitcases. I would say you could squeeze in 2 other people too – a pleasant change!
The lady at reception was very polite in checking us in and actually spoke to me like anyone else. As many people with disabilities encounter, if you’re travelling with an able-bodied companion sometimes people will automatically overlook you and speak to them. I always make sure I approach the desk so to make them aware I’m fully capable of such interactions. We would be in room 860 on the 8th floor, a modest family room.
Now you maybe wondering why we didn’t book an accessible room. This wasn’t for want or trying. It seems many hotels have safety rules when it comes to their accessible rooms, in that if it’s a wheelchair user booking in, they will not allow an extra bed in that room. Something about insurance saying wheelchairs need x amount of floor space to move around. Even though I try and twist their arm by saying I actually live in a pretty non-accessible home and am very used to navigating tight spaces, they won’t budge because they’re liable if there was an issue and trusted my judgement. The only hotel I have actually encountered that has wheelchair accessible FAMILY rooms is when we went to Costa Almeria, Spain and they were Amazing! BUT, this hotel DOES have ‘accessible’ rooms which I’m told are more spacious and has a step-free shower with drop down stool.
So I packed an alternative way of toileting and a few bits of extra equipment such as longer charger cords, multi USB plug and a power bar because I knew I definitely would not be able to use the bathroom and because I need my mobile within reach in bed, my wheelchair charger plugged in overnight plus I now travel with my BIPAP ventilator. I was definitely going to need more sockets that are found in standard hotel rooms. So if you find yourself having to manage in a standard room, definitely think about what you need to plug in.
Room 860 consisted of a double bed with a single bunk overhead. Looks very modern and stylish. There was a small table in the corner and pull out stool. A modern TV that was wall mounted high out of childrens reach which I liked! We checked for USB ports on the TV and found it had 2 so you could bring an Amazon Firestick or portable blu-ray or whatever. I could access the side of the bed closest to the door so that’d have to be my side. What I found very interesting was above the pillows on the headboard were these light control buttons! One for the main light, one for the light next to the top bunk and another dim light that ran under the wood panel across all the walls which gives off a lovely relaxing hue. Perfect for getting it dark enough to sleep but keeping one light on for a child.
The bathroom was just a toilet cupboard and the shower and sink were actually part of the bedroom. That part made it feel kind of hospital like but it wasn’t too bad. We also had FREE WiFi which was actually a good speed. I could watch my Nightly YouTube vlogs without the buffering that you experience in most hotels, so that was great! The room was very soundproof considering how big the hotel was and how many floors. The only downside was we never fully figured out the heating control. There’s a thermostat in the room and the heat comes out a vent above the door. Being that heat rises it never really felt warm. It did to everyone else but I was frozen most of the time. However this may not be fair to say was the rooms fault as it was – 6 in Glasgow at the time during a snow blizzard!
I would say their Family rooms would be suitable for a manual wheelchair to an extent. You’d need to be able to walk sort distances to use the toilet, if you parked right at the toilet door it’d be around 5 steps. Zero grab rails though. The shower has a step up into it but if you could manage that you can ask reception for a stool to sit on inside. The sink is reachable for a wheelchair user and there’s a mixer tap that I could work with limited strength and grip. You’d need to be able to self-transfer to the bed or bring a transfer board. If you were bringing someone to help with personal care be mindful they’d be working from the right side of the bed.
The reception, lobby and breakfast areas were all accessible and staff are more than willing to help you get what you’d like if you didn’t have someone with you at the time.
We dined at Frankie & Bennys the first night and can’t believe it took us leaving there to realise we were literally right next to the river Clyde. Which was extremely breathtaking at night with all the twinkly lights of the city of Glasgow. We spent as long as we could tolerate in the bitter cold and snow flurries gazing in awe at the picturesque sight. It was like something out of a film! From Springfield Quay you can see the bridge in one direction and and the wheel of Glasgow in the other.
There are several bus routes that are wheelchair friendly and ample dropped curbs around the retail park. If all else fails, Glasgow Taxis (whom you can book online or via their App!) have good rates, reliable and trained drivers and all their cabs are supposedly wheelchair accessible.
That brings me to the end of my review of the Ibis Budget Hotel. For only £60 per night in March it was what you’d expect from a budget hotel but the location is what really made staying here a winner.