female wheelchair user at glamorous party celebrating accessibility

The Blue Badge Access Awards Winners Raise the Profile of Accessible Design

The Blue Badge Access Awards is an international initiative that unites two major design competitions—the Bespoke Access Awards and the Blue Badge Style Awards—with the backing of the charity, Leonard Cheshire.

The Blue Badge Access Awards were established to honour and incentivise accessibility improvements in hotels, restaurants and various public venues worldwide. The awards debuted at the prestigious House of Lords in 2016.

Entries are evaluated on aesthetics, thoughtful design, innovative solutions and the freedom they afford in facilitating exceptional accessibility. The goal of the awards was to inspire leaders in the hospitality industry, architects and designers worldwide to proactively explore avenues for meeting the present and future requirements of guests with disabilities.

The chief judge and co-founder of the awards, Fiona Jarvis, expressed her admiration for the exceptional venues nominated for the 2023 edition: “This evening was incredibly emotional and uplifting, with all the nominees and winners sharing the collective objective of creating hospitable environments for everyone. None exhibited complacency; instead, all expressed a genuine desire to continually improve.”

Blue Badge Access Award Winners 2023/24

The awards ceremony was held on the 26th October at London’s Great Scotland Yard Hotel. All nominations shared the collective agenda to deliver accessibility with style.

Best Accessible Bathroom/Toilet

AbleStay London received two awards: the “Above and Beyond” award and the prize for the finest accessible bathroom/toilet. Ablestay was crafted by co-workers Charles and Jo van Berckel. It’s tailored to meet the specific requirements of their son, Kit. Every aspect was meticulously designed to ensure a seamless and comfortable stay. This includes strategically placed toilets and height adjustable baths, profiling beds, ceiling hoist and kitchen features.

The Best Accessible Luxury Hotel

The Best Luxury Hotel Award went to: The Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel, London WC1. The Kimpton Fitzroy Hotel offers 334 bedrooms, each equipped with stylish and accessible bathrooms and suites. The Kimpton received praise for its roll-in showers and easily accessible baths,  all the while preserving its historical features dating back to the 19th century. Additionally, the Kimpton Hotel gym features a disability-adapted restroom and shower. Along with this, the hotel provides complimentary rooms for caregivers. The Kimpton Hotel knows how to do accessibility with style.

The Best Accessible Boutique Hotel

For the best boutique category, Wraxall Yard claimed the award for its dairy farm turned inclusive holiday accommodation in Dorset. The judges acknowledged the remarkable achievement of revitalizing the abandoned site into an accessible and environmentally conscious lodging, all while preserving the distinctive historic charm of the original structure.

Best Accessible Venue in a Historic Building

Blenheim Palace was honoured with the Best Venue in a Historic Building Award for its outstanding accessibility program, which prioritises inclusivity-focused staff training. Blenheim Palace ensures that all staff members receive comprehensive training, including this year’s Tourette’s awareness training. They have staff proficient in British Sign Language (BSL), designated access champions, sensory maps, access statements, and touch tours, offering visitors a fully inclusive experience during their visit to the palace.

Best Accessible Spa

This year, a new accolade was introduced for the best spa. Chewton Glen was the recipient of this award, recognized for its outstanding accessibility provisions throughout the main hotel and public areas. These include portable ramps, accessible changing rooms, and poolside access. Moreover, the hotel provides pool hoists for safe entry into both indoor and outdoor pools, as well as a stair climber. Trained and experienced staff are available to provide assistance as well as personalised training schedules and exercise regimes.

Best Accessible Restaurant

The following award presented was for the Best Restaurant, which was bestowed upon Gaucho in Cardiff. The judges noted the evident consideration given to crafting an exclusive dining experience at Gaucho’s, marked by exceptional cuisine and comprehensive accessibility measures. From its spacious entrance to access across both floors, inclusive restroom facilities, and comfortable dining areas devoid of crowding or confinement, every aspect reflects a commitment to accessibility.

Best International Venue

For the best international venue, the Amilla Resort in the Maldives took the top spot. This IncluCare-certified resort is part of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower initiative and the Conscious Travel Foundation. Their objective is to incorporate accessibility features into the resort. Additionally, the team is undergoing training to accommodate guests with sensory and mobility challenges, ensuring that everyone can fully relish the paradise of the Maldives.

Best Accessible Bar/Pub

This year’s best bar award went to The Audley Public House, a traditional neighbourhood pub meticulously restored, blending history with contemporary art. They have a driven team with a shared passion to enhance and enlighten lives through art, architecture, food, nature and cultural experiences. The judges commented on the combination of art and atmosphere and how wonderful it is to be accessible to guests of all abilities.

Special Award for Outstanding Achievement in Accessibility

The last award was given to Charlie Lyons of Sesame Access Systems for Exceptional Contributions to Accessibility. This unique accolade was established to honour Charlie’s legacy following his unfortunate passing in March. Charlie designed the Sesame lift to facilitate wheelchair users in accessing any building through its front entrance. To date, more than 200 Sesame lifts have been installed globally, with notable installations at renowned landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, 10 Downing Street, and the Bank of England.

Bringing stylish accessible design to your home

The Blue Badge Access Awards strive to elevate the profile of accessibility within the hospitality and leisure sectors, and wider public life. At Absolute Mobility, our mission aligns with this. We are committed to bringing the best in accessible design to the home environment. From accessible bathrooms featuring innovative solutions such as walk-in tub-style baths, to wet rooms with showers you can control via smartphone. Our team is dedicated to ensuring that every aspect of your bathroom promotes independence, comfort and inclusivity, allowing you and your loved ones to live life to the fullest. With absolute mobility, you can transform your home into a space that not only meets your accessibility requirements but also reflects your personal style and preferences.

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