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How to Make a Holiday Cottage Disabled Friendly

Reading Time: 6 minutes

There are many things to consider when booking a holiday cottage, such as which area to stay in, are the dates available, how much will it cost and what is there to do nearby. But there are a lot of extra considerations for those with disabilities that make finding the perfect place to stay complex. Their priority is to find a cottage that’s suitable for their disability before they can tick off the other requirements.

According to disability equality charity Scope, there are 16 million disabled people in the UK.  But when it comes to holidays, it’s still common to find that the accommodation available is simply not properly adapted for those with a disability.

Everyone, regardless of their needs, deserves to have an amazing holiday experience and to have peace of mind that their accommodation is first-rate. Here are some tips on how holiday cottage owners can make a few changes to make their property accessible for people with disabilities.

The advantages of making your holiday cottage accessible for disabled travellers

The good news for holiday let businesses looking to adapt their properties for disabled travellers is that the demand for accessible accommodation outstrips the current supply. So, by making your property more accessible, you could potentially tap into a huge market of travellers with disabilities.

Disabled travellers also tend to be loyal and return to accommodation they have stayed in before because they know it has the specialist facilities required and it removes the stress of trying to find somewhere else suitable.

Whilst there are thousands of holiday cottages for rent in the UK, a notable proportion of these are still not accessible for disabled travellers.  Adapting aspects of your holiday home enables you to offer something your rivals don’t, so you’d have a unique selling point.

Undertake an access audit

The purpose of an access audit is to help holiday cottage owners identify reasonable adjustments that may be required for guests with mobility, cognitive and sensory impairments.

It is recommended that the audit follows the guest’s journey through the holiday home. This includes the arrival, entry into the property, access to each of the rooms and facilities provided then finally to the exit route. The audit should also consider how people with additional requirements would exit in the event of an emergency.

Are there narrow doorways and halls, hard-to-reach appliances, or areas of the holiday home that are only accessible by stairs or difficult to manoeuvre in? Once you have done your audit you can start to think about modifications to increase accessibility in your holiday cottage.

 You could also hire a trained professional to undertake an access audit and provide actionable recommendations. Here are a couple of resources to find access consultants:


How to make your holiday cottage accessible

Making your holiday home accessible for people with disabilities doesn’t have to be a huge project involving significant structural changes. There are a wide range of possible disabilities that guests could have, and a variety of ways you can accommodate their requirements. You don’t necessarily have to adapt your property specifically for disabled visitors. With clever design you can make the accessible facilities and equipment available if required and, if not, they simply blend into the design.

Adaptations to consider for inside your property

 There are several indoor modifications you can make, here are a few suggestions to consider. 

  • Different levels will naturally present a challenge for disabled holidaymakers. Install a ramp at the front entrance for a step-free access to the holiday cottage.
  • Widen door widths to at least 36 inches to allow easy wheelchair access.
  • Make sure that all door handles are at a lower accessibility point and are easy to use. Could any doors be adapted to become automatic or self-closing?
  • Tiled floors with underfloor heating or wooden floors offer a nice balance of practicality while keeping the property feeling homey and comfortable.
  • Place light switches at lower levels or fit motion-sensor automatic lights.
  • Allow 40 inches of space between furniture to give guests enough room to move around. Freestanding furniture also offers the flexibility to be removed if required.
  • Install a wheelchair lift, stairlift, or a handrail to staircases to assist those less steady on their feet.
  • Ensure power outlets are accessible.
  • Enable subtitles on TVs.
  • Use braille signage.
  • Provide rise and recline armchairs.


  • A ground-floor wet-room style bathroom with a step-free, roll-in shower and shower chair.
  • Hand-held shower head support rail nearby.
  • Grab rails around toilets and baths.
  • Bath seat and hoist.
  • Roll-under sinks.
  • Non-slip surfaces.
  • Accessible-height toilet.
  • Easy-to-reach sensor taps or lever taps usable with one hand.
  • Towels that contrast in colour to the walls and floor.
  • An alarm on an easy-to-reach pull cord.


  • Accessible on the ground-floor.
  • Accessible-height bed.
  • Provide a ceiling tracked hoist or portable hoist (do guests need to bring their own sling?).
  • Door handles usable with one hand.
  • Lowered wardrobe bars and shelving.
  • Space under the bed for a hoist or other equipment.
  • Lowered closet bars and shelving.
  • Zip and link adjustable beds.


Install accessible height appliances and cupboards with shallow work-tops. Removing cabinets underneath kitchen sinks and some work surfaces will make it easier for those who use a wheelchair or walker to cook and prepare food.

Adaptations to consider for outside your property

If you are lucky enough to have parking onsite, is it possible to expand the space to make it handicap-accessible? Handicap parking should be wide enough to unload and for a ramp or lift to deploy. If your property doesn’t offer parking, clarify any alternative options, places for drop-off, or transportation arrangements.

The surface of your drive and paths could also have an impact. Uneven ground could be a trip hazard, while gravel may cause issues for wheelchair users. Paths to the entrance should be well-lit with a grab rail by the front door.

An accessible hot tub or pool with a hoist can be a big selling point.

You should also assess if there are any hazards outside, such as loose flags that need removing or a pond.

Assistance animals

Another key consideration when making your holiday home accessible is to make reasonable adjustments for assistance animals staying at your property. Thousands of people rely on assistance dogs to carry out practical tasks and support with navigation, so you should provide an enclosed area for them outside.

How to create a holiday cottage access statement

Holiday let owners should provide an accessibility guide for their property. An access statement accurately describes the property and its facilities. It highlights any access restrictions and identifies potential hazards, such as steep stairs, changes to floor levels, a gravel drive etc.

Accessibility guides enable guests with a disability or impairment to make a judgement on whether a holiday home is suitable for them.

It’s useful to provide information on:

  • Information relating to access drop-off and parking.
  • What’s the driveway surface – paved, gravel etc?
  • If the main entrance is level, ramped or has steps.
  • Door widths and whether manual or self-closing doors.
  • If there is a lift and or stairs with handrails.
  • Areas that do and do not have level access.
  • Does the property have a ground floor accessible bedroom/bathroom/toilet?
  • Are bathroom(s)/toilet(s) adapted for wheelchair users with support rails, level entry shower, shower chair, hoist, adjustable shower head or lever operated taps.
  • Are the light switches at wheelchair level?
  • Are kitchen work surfaces, sinks, cupboards and appliances accessible when seated?
  • External features such as an area for assistance dogs, path levels, pond or hot tub with hoist.
  • Details of the low clothes rail in the bedroom and if the beds can be flexible (either double or twin).
  • Seating arrangement in the lounge.
  • The TVs that have subtitles.
  • Do you have a hearing loop?
  • Directions to your property, including maps.
  • Distance from nearest town/village with details of the best places to park, eat etc.
  • Provide a list of equipment, either provided as standard, available on request or where to hire.
  • Provide information in an easy-to-read format about the property, its location, local carers/hire companies/accessible taxi/hospitals/doctors etc.
  • Activities e.g. off-road wheelchairs which enable guests to explore the outdoors.
  • What network(s) get mobile phone reception.
  • How the property is rated by the National Accessible Scheme.

For help creating your accessibility guide visit https://www.accessibilityguides.org/

How to promote your holiday cottage as accessible

Once your accessible holiday let is ready to accept bookings, it’s time to promote it to potential guests. Each OTA (online travel agency) such as Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com has its own way of informing guests about accessibility. Ensure your listing on these sites highlight how your property is accessible in the features and amenities section.

One of the benefits of having your own holiday let website is that you can include an accessibility page to demonstrate what guests can expect. This can include photos, detailed information on your facilities, floor plans or a virtual tour.

You can also provide information on the accessibility of local businesses and tourist attractions. For example, if you know your local pub provides step-free access, has an accessible toilet, and offers great food, link to their website.

Also, highlight any reviews from past guests that specifically mention how your facilities for disabled travellers made a difference to their stay.

To summarise

Creating an accessible holiday home is an ongoing process to ensure a great guest experience. Ask guests at the time of booking if they have any accessibility requirements so you make any necessary arrangements ahead of their arrival. You should also ask for feedback from every departing guest on how you can improve accessibility.

Accessible accommodation means that people with disabilities and their families can have the amazing holiday experience they deserve. Start making simple changes to your holiday let today.

Useful tools and guides


  • Karen Wilde |

    My husband and I have booked a week in a holiday cottage in Port Sunlight on the Wirral in July 2019. On the holiday lets website there are lots of photos, interior and exterior, of the cottage we’ve booked and it looks beautiful and well-maintained. However, yesterday, long after the holiday had been paid for, it suddenly dawned on me that there are no photos of the staircase nor any mention of handrails. I asked the holiday lets company, via a Livechat, whether or not there are handrails up the stairs as I have mobility issues. I’d taken it for granted that there would be as the back door of the cottage has two steps with a handrail each side leading down to a patio area and Trip Advisor says that this cottage is safe for children under 5. The reply came back that there are no handrails up the stairs. It’s now 14 days until my husband and I are due to go on the holiday and I simply can’t manage steps or stairs indoors or out without a handrail. We can’t cancel the holiday as its primary purpose is to attend our son’s Graduation Day in Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

    • Philip |

      In the future, if you can’t manage steps or stairs indoors without a handrail then you should ask the owner/agent for their accessibility guide before booking to ensure the property is suitable. Hopefully the property manager can accommodate you in an alternative property. I hope this doesn’t ruin the big day.

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