We recently invited Pippa from lifeofpippa.com to experience 24 hours in Birmingham, highlighting some of the great accessible venues across the city. Hear all about her trip below.

My name is Pippa, and there’s nothing I love more than a little adventure. I also happen to be a wheelchair user, which means that planning my getaways takes a little extra preparation sometimes. In the past, researching accessible accommodation and amenities would often be draining and time-consuming. However, as proven by my recent trip to Birmingham, the work of AccessAble means that enjoying a trip away is easier than ever before.

I got the train from York to Birmingham New Street, to spend 24 hours exploring the city centre. My disability is known as an Energy Limiting Condition and fatigue is one of the biggest challenges I face, so the trip got off to the best possible start when I exited the station and realised I could see my chosen hotel, The MacDonald Burlington, right in front of me.

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Location is key, but location alone doesn’t accommodate all my access needs. That’s where AccessAble comes in – ahead of my trip, I could read a Detailed Access Guide to the hotel and know exactly what to expect of my accommodation for the night. I knew that if I entered through the Burlington Arcade entrance, there would be a permanent slope allowing me to enter. The trained surveyors who create each Detailed Access Guide had rated the gradient of this slope as ‘slight’, so I knew it would be suitable for my (slightly temperamental) power-chair.

The hotel itself was stunning. Despite being a historic building established in 1874, the inside was surprisingly accessible – I could reach every level, plus the restaurant, bar, and conference rooms, independently. In all the public areas, I really appreciated the ample space to manoeuvre while using a wheelchair… and the same is also true for the beautiful accessible en-suite room located on the first floor, just next to the lift. Both the bedroom and bathroom were comfortable and stylish – the bathroom in particular was beautiful, and proved that décor certainly wasn’t an afterthought for the accessible facilities. Thanks to the Detailed Access Guide I knew I could expect a flip-down shower seat, which makes a world of difference when I need to conserve my limited energy – the better I can pace myself and reduce over-exertion, the more I’m able to enjoy my time out and about.

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After a short rest in the comfortable bed, I booked an accessible taxi and headed to Chapter Edgbaston for dinner. This independent restaurant was spacious and full of natural light, and easy to access as a wheelchair user. A permanent ramped slope leads up to the entrance, and once inside there was also a portable ramp available to access the lower, more peaceful level of the restaurant. It may seem like only a small thing, but being able to choose our table out of anywhere in the restaurant (rather than being confined to just one particular area) ensured our evening was off to the very best start. There were so many delicious-sounding items on the seasonal menu that it was difficult to choose what I wanted, and everything I ate tasted so fresh and perfectly prepared. It was also a joy to find a friendly team who were so accommodating of food allergies – the meals are prepared on-site, meaning it was no problem to make a few tweaks to any of the dishes I fancied to make them suitable for me. I’d return to Chapter in a heartbeat!

The next day, fuelled by a nice cuppa and an excellent breakfast in the hotel, I headed to Thinktank – Birmingham’s award-winning Science Museum. I’m always impressed by museums’ dedication to being accessible for all, and AccessAble’s Detailed Access Guide proved Thinktank was no exception. Moving through the interactive exhibits and between floors (including the outdoor Science Garden) in my wheelchair felt effortless, meaning I could focus my energy on engaging with what I was seeing. I also really appreciated all the seating that was scattered around, because adjustments like this ensure disabled people who don’t use mobility aids are better accommodated too. There was no background music playing which is really helpful for people with chronic illnesses and noise-sensitivity like mine, but thanks to the Detailed Access Guide I knew there was also a discreet Quiet Room next to the accessible toilets that I could escape to if needed.

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This was only a flying visit to Birmingham, but I’d love to explore more in the future. There are so many culturally rich things to see and do, and I may or may not have been browsing through AccessAble once again to make a list of other accessible experiences I’d like to try. The Detailed Access Guides I made use of during this visit were funded by Birmingham City Council and are completely free for individuals to access, and I know that the in-person information provided by AccessAble’s trained surveyors is accurate and reliable. To find out more and plan your own exciting trip, visit AccessAble’s website!

Check out more of Pippa's accessible adventures here.

Disclaimer: Although Pippa was gifted her visit to Birmingham, all opinions are her own.