By Denis Sheehan MIH: Accessible accommodation pays dividends for Hotel Brooklyn Manchester.
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In 2022, Hotel Brooklyn Manchester’s first full trading year after Covid-19 restrictions lifted, its 18 accessible Liberty Suites brought the hotel an additional £132,000 over that 12-month period. This equates to £7,333 additional revenue per accessible room and just over 100 extra bed nights every four weeks.
The vision of embedded accessibility at Hotel Brooklyn extends from bedrooms and bathrooms to conference rooms, restaurant, bar, and mini cinema, and the knock-on impact has made the hotel a sought-after event venue for groups that include guests with access needs.
From charity events and award ceremonies to accessible weddings, Hotel Brooklyn attracts everything from large annual events to smaller, regular get-togethers, with many guests also booking overnight stays. Combined, such events contributed £85,000 additional income in 2022, bringing the total contribution from accessible facilities to £217,000 across the year.
The business case for accessibility
While much of the hospitality industry is struggling through a cost-of-living crisis, the investment Hotel Brooklyn made in accessible facilities has made it an attractive destination for all, including guests with access requirements.
Accessible tourism in England is a £15.3 billion a year market (VisitEngland research), with guests requiring accessible rooms tending to travel with others, take longer trips, and are loyal to hospitality venues that get it right.
Far from missing out on this consumer group and its considerable spending power, Hotel Brooklyn epitomises the business case for embedding accessibility from the outset. Its most regular repeat visitors, who have each visited more than 50 times, are both wheelchair users travelling with service dogs.
Making the disabled guest experience as independent and inclusive as possible was central to owner Bespoke Hotels’ ambition for Hotel Brooklyn.
To realise this, the UK’s largest independent hotel group engaged inclusive design specialist Motionspot to design and supply Hotel Brooklyn’s 18 accessible suites and build in attractive access principles and features throughout the hotel’s communal areas. This pioneering approach has paid off, not just in the form of commercial returns, but also reputation. The 189-bedroom hotel which brings a taste of Brooklyn to Manchester is frequently referred to as ‘the most accessible hotel in the UK’.
Robin Sheppard, President of Bespoke Hotels said: “Hotel Brooklyn has demonstrated how accessibility can be incorporated into a luxury hotel. We acknowledge that we are on a journey to provide accessible experiences for all guests, and the feedback we receive from visitors is helping us to raise the bar even further at future Hotel Brooklyn sites. We hope the success of Hotel Brooklyn inspires others in the industry to look at how they can improve their accessible facilities to help make UK hospitality more accessible for all.”
Ed Warner, CEO and Co-Founder of Motionspot said: “In collaboration with Bespoke, we have been able to turn traditional hotel industry thinking on its head. Too often, accessible rooms feature second-rate design and are less desirable but, at Hotel Brooklyn we have proven that the beautifully designed accessible rooms can be the most popular in the hotel. Making accommodation more accessible is not just the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense.”
Accessible design features
The design and subtle accessibility features make the accessible rooms Hotel Brooklyn’s highest occupancy category. This was made possible because the accessible rooms had the hotel’s highest occupancy levels and were universally popular for all guests, generating a peak revenue of £13,000 per month between April and July 2022.
The key accessible design features implemented include:
- Ceiling track hoists subtly concealed in light fittings and stored within built-in storage.
- Removable matt black grab rails and shower seats which can be removed when not required by disabled guests.
- Wall-mounted basins featuring discreet integrated hand grips that can be used from a seated or standing position.
- Lever shower controls and easy-to-use toilet flush plates.
- Discreet accessible bedroom furniture including safes, mini-bars, wardrobes, desks, and adjustable height robe hooks.
- Electric curtains that can be controlled from bedside panels.
- Interconnecting rooms for family and carer access.
- Well planned circulation space throughout the hotel including a wheelchair accessible reception desk and stylish wheelchair accessible public toilets.
Person centric approach
Central to the access vision at Hotel Brooklyn were the focus groups Motionspot conducted with people of different lived experiences of disability. While inclusive design innovation and thinking has moved on significantly since Motionspot first designed Hotel Brooklyn Manchester, feedback and insights continue to be gathered to improve the hotel’s accessibility. These include the addition of profiling beds; use of the WelcoMe app which allows guests to communicate their access needs to the customer service team ahead of check-in; and detailed online Access Galleries which show everything from the height of the key-card entry point from the street to the fact that two members of the hotel team use British Sign Language (BSL). On a wider scale the intention is to continue to improve the access across Bespoke Hotels’ other properties and inspire the UK hospitality industry at large.