We have found that Airbnb is not the most straightforward platform to use when looking for accessible accommodation but it is possible to find suitable accommodation with a bit of searching.
Here are our top tips for booking accessible accommodation using Airbnb:
Airbnb does have a set of accessibility filters however we find that they end up yielding very few results. The problem is that with Airbnb you're often staying in someone's home which unlike a hotel room is not uniform throughout and won't have to conform to any accessibility regulations. Most people's homes will not be completely accessible but it also doesn't mean that they aren't accessible enough. Also, the filters don't seem to account for different levels of disability and the accessibility needs that come with that.
For example, one of the filters is that hallways are at least 91cm wide. Now at first thought, you would probably choose to tick that filter but you might end up eliminating properties that would actually be accessible. For instance, take the hypothetical floorplan below for a multi bedroom property. There is a large main hallway with 2 narrow secondary hallways leading to more rooms. From the wide hallway, you can access 2 of the bedrooms, a bathroom, the kitchen and lounge. You might not be able to get to the other bedrooms and toilet because of the narrow hallways but does this matter because you can access all the rooms you need to be able to access. This property could be accessible but, because a small part of it doesn't meet the 91cm hallway requirement, using this filter would actually eliminate this property. Another issue is how many hosts have actually bothered measuring their hallways?
Another filter we don't like is the no stairs or steps to enter filter. This is because there is no differentiation between stairs and steps or the height of the steps. A single low step would be no problem for us but a set of narrow steps would be a completely different question. The lack of information here means that again you may end up eliminating accommodation that would be accessible enough for you.
There are filter options for a roll in shower and also for a bath with a bath chair but there is no option to select just a bath. A roll in shower would be preferable but most people don't have one so that filter is unlikely to give many results. A bath with a bath chair would also be fine but most homes again will not have the chair. What the majority of homes do have though are bathtubs. For some people, for example, Craig is a paraplegic who can transfer into a bath, then an ordinary bath would be adequate. Because Airbnb doesn't have a bath filter, using the filter that they do have would eliminate all the properties that do have an ordinary bath.
Curious about wheelchair to bath transfers? Watch the video at the bottom of this article to find out how Craig transfers in and out of a bath.
We filter for all the other things we want such as location, date, number of rooms and budget. Unfortunately, the next bit can be time consuming. We go through the results reading the description of the accommodation and looking through the photos of the property to try and determine whether it would be accessible.
Once we've found somewhere that is potentially accessible we contact the host explaining our situation and ask them specific questions. For example, are there any steps into your property and if so how many? Are your doorways and hallways wide enough to get into the essential rooms (for us that's bedroom and bathroom)? Give them your desired measurements.
When looking for accessible accommodation on Airbnb we find it helps to be open minded. Work out what you need vs what would be nice but not essential. Ask yourself what you need to be able to make do and be willing to be adaptable. If you want something that's completely accessible then you're probably better off with a hotel (although you can find a very small number of completely accessible properties on Airbnb).
If you think a hotel is better for you, check out our guide on booking accessible hotels:
If you do find somewhere on Airbnb and you're not yet a member, please sign up using this link. You'll get £25 credit towards your stay and we'll get credit for referring you. It's a win-win!