Just like Goldilocks, many travelers have difficulty finding a bed that’s just right. After all, a bed that’s too hard or too soft can cause a painful back ache, and that’s a surefire way to ruin any vacation. But for wheelchair-users and slow walkers, bed choice is a more essential issue; because bed height and frame design can be critical components of accessibility.
What is an Accessible Bed?
So what’s the definition of the perfect bed? While many wheelchair-users prefer lower beds for easier transfers, slow walkers favor higher models so they don’t have to bend. Likewise, people who travel with a portable lift need an open-frame bed, so their equipment can fit under it.
To further complicate the matter, beds are not covered in the Americans with Disabilities Act. And although New Jersey and Florida have state laws that require open-frame beds, not all accessible rooms have them.
In short, hotel beds are a huge source of confusion, and there’s really no consistency from one property to the next. In the end, you just have to find the bed that works best for you; so it pays to know what to look for, and where problems may arise.
Asking the Right Questions
Like any other access feature, finding the right bed takes some legwork. The current trend in the industry is towards high pillow top beds, which usually measure 28 inches or higher. As for bed frames, most hotel managers prefer platform beds.
If bed height or an open-frame is important to you, make sure and ask about it when you make your reservation. If the reservation clerk can’t answer your questions, ask to speak to someone in the housekeeping or engineering department.
If you want to avoid high beds, stay away from properties that advertise luxurious or specialty bedding. Victorian properties and historic hotels also usually boast higher models. And if you want to be on the safe side, book a room with a sofa bed, as they are usually lower.
When Things go Wrong
Even when you do all the right things, and ask all the right questions, sometimes things still go wrong. That’s just they way it goes with accessible travel, so you have to learn to mitigate damages.
If you arrive and discover the bed is too high ask if can be taken off the frame. If not, then request a roll-away bed or ask to be moved to a room with a sofa bed. The engineering department can usually convert a platform bed to an open frame model, by placing it on blocks; however roll-aways and sofa beds are another open-frame option.
And if you’d like to travel with a little extra insurance, then purchase a pair of portable furniture risers. Theses stackable rubber cups can raise beds up to six inches and they stow nicely inside one another. They’re the perfect travel accessory for folks who travel with portable lifts, as they’re the only way to absolutely guarantee an open-frame bed.