Inaccessible Accessibility :: Country Inns

My mother had a knee replaced recently, followed by a slow, painful recovery in the middle of a dreary East Coast winter. So I thought I’d take her on a pick-me-up weekend get-away to relax at a comfortable, cozy, cute inn along the Chesapeake Bay.

She’s certainly mobile, but a F room would be needed so she could walk into a shower and not have to try to climb in and out of a bathtub. No stairs to reach the room would be a bonus. Since the advent of the Americans with Disabilities Act, I thought it would be easy to find the perfect place where the room would be comfortable for her and we could relax for a couple days in a charming lobby, parlor, library or sitting room.

Not bloody likely.

The usual travel sites — Expedia, Orbitz and their cousins – don’t offer a search option for handicap-accessible rooms while other searches turn up only the charm-less, uninviting chain hotels. A frustrating afternoon of looking around online, calling individual inns or B&Bs and asking the same question dozens of times gave me a headache and made me wonder if things would improve once Baby Boomers start losing their mobility.

Just as I reached the point of thinking I’d take her to New York instead, where lovely accessible rooms and suites are easily found, a final Google turned up the Handicap Accessible page of Bed and Breakfast Inns Online ( which lists hundreds of accessible inns around the country.

But even using that site required more work than it should have and meant separate, sometimes tedious calls to each property because most of their web sites do not provide details about the handicap-accessible rooms – bathroom design; number of beds, width of doors.

It seems accessible is a subjective thing. One B&B had its only accessible room on the second floor – up a winding flight of polished wood stairs! Another said its accessible room had a door wide enough to get a wheelchair through, “but the bathroom would be a problem.�? Another had only one double bed in its accessible room.

Larger inns fared somewhat better but usually offered only one bed in their accessible rooms. It was easier for me to find an adequate room with two beds in a small French hotel on the Mediterranean than in eastern Maryland, but neither of us have the time for France right now.

It took a few days, but we’ve narrowed our search down to three properties that meet our needs. I think I’m going with the bay-facing 18th Century Baltimore-area inn where the reservations agent greeted my questions by happily saying “I had a knee replaced last year; I know exactly what you’re looking for.�?

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