A holiday that was not what I had in mind...

Oxford Mail: Niall Strawson Niall Strawson

DESPITE the warm days and nights we have experienced recently, many of us just can’t resist the urge for guaranteed sunshine and a bit of yummy foreign food.

Finding holiday places to stay is a constant headache for us wheelchair users. It really depends on where you are, which organisation you choose to use and what type of accommodation you would like.

Hotel chains are generally reliable as they have a standardised accessible room that they duplicate across the world. Me being me I usually opt for self-catering. That way I can visit the markets and get cooking, get the €4 bottle of wine, and have a chill-out area for relaxing with my friends.

I heard a lot of buzz about AirBnB – mostly excellent. This is a service whereby people rent out their homes when they are away or have a property that they occasionally use. I decided to give them a try. They do have an accessibility filter on their website and photos to check out so I had confidence this would be ok, especially given that the property that we chose was ground floor.

I arrive to blazing heat and blue skies where my friend greeted me and said: ‘Great news the weather is going to be like this all week, bad news the flat isn’t accessible’.

My other friends had been frantically trying to find an alternative all day. It seems that accessible accommodation isn’t available last minute – imagine my surprise and yes I am being ironic.

I immediately arrive and get on the phone to AirBnB. I told them that they have left a disabled man in 32C heat in the street with no access to a toilet and that this needs to be sorted ASAP.

The response? ‘You have 20 per cent more money from your original budget to find somewhere – good luck’. As you can imagine I was hot, irate and getting increasingly concerned about whether I was sleeping on the beach or not. I asked to speak to her manager and she replied ‘why?’.

At this point I went nuclear along with my core temperature.

I downloaded Twitter. Luckily my friend is a Twitter expert and soon America was on the phone – who insisted I get a hotel and get out of the streets and baking sun.

It took another two days of wrangling over the phone and that’s two days lost off an already short vacation. The solution? The remainder of our stay in a hotel with a budget for dinner out – thankfully on AirBnB expenses – which to give credit to them was the only possible solution given the last minute nature.

I would like to mention two real star AirBnB employees – Kennedy and Debbie, thank you. That said two days of three people’s holiday being taken away, plus a solution that was not what we wanted, still leaves me feeling bitter. Based on this experience I wouldn’t trust to use them again and that’s a shame and of course I will also be tweeting this article.

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