Airbnb for the disabled?
June 2, 2017 10:32 AM   Subscribe

You can search for wheelchair accessibility within Airbnb's filters, but it isn't very accurate. Are there other options?

I'm idly thinking about plans for the holidays. My family celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas in the Boston area. My mom is fully dependent on a power chair to get around. She can't transfer or walk at all, period. It would be really cool if we could rent a home that is fully wheelchair accessible, and then we could have Thanksgiving in a place where we can actually make Thanksgiving dinner and hang out. What we have done the last few years is celebrate Thanksgiving at my mom's nursing home. They do a really nice job for the holidays, but I can't help but wonder if there are other options.

My mom needs to sleep at her nursing home, so things like lifts for a bed and things like that aren't a consideration. It's just about finding a place that absolutely has no steps, and doorways that conform to ADA requirements.

The problem is that Airbnb stipulates that people who rent their space can identify it as wheelchair accessible without needing to satisfy all the ADA requirements that give the phrase "wheelchair accessible" any real meaning. Many of the listings are, to the naked eye, not places where a person who uses a wheelchair would be able to get around very easily, or even get into the house.

VRBO and Homeaway seem to essentially just be mirror sites for Airbnb these days. Are there any other options I haven't thought of?
posted by cakelite to Travel & Transportation around Boston, MA (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If I were you, I'd identify some appealing Airbnbs and then write to the host, asking specifically about accessibility, wheelchair users' experience in the past, etc. They'll be able to let you know if there is, say, a side entrance without stairs or a narrow doorway into the kitchen or a suitable-sized bathroom or whatever. In my experience good hosts should be good at answering questions before a booking.

That said, I know non-wheelchair users aren't always the best at identifying potential accessibility flaws and you're looking for places that are local to your mom, maybe you can arrange to tour the place well ahead of time so you can get a look at any potential issues yourself as well.
posted by R a c h e l at 11:16 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

I'd seriously consider a major hotel. They will be a lot more rigorous about such things.

That said, I did recently find an AirBNB that was a separate small dwelling next to a larger house (in NC). It turned out it was built for the owner's mother and was wheelchair accessible because of that. If you can spend time asking around, that might yield good results.
posted by amtho at 11:41 AM on June 2, 2017

I'd opt for a hotel chain here, and I say that as a very regular Airbnb user with a relatively minor mobility disability (I have arthritis, use a cane some of the time, and avoid stairs whenever possible). Airbnb is not covered by the same rules, and while there are a lot of great hosts, unless you have a host who has reviews from people who also use wheelchairs, I would not trust their assessment of how accessible the place is. Whatever you go with, I'd talk to them fairly extensively about exactly what your requirements are.
posted by bile and syntax at 11:59 AM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Just wanted to quickly say that I am following up with a (very) few promising Airbnb leads, and hotels aren't really an option because the idea is to cook Thanksgiving dinner.
posted by cakelite at 12:02 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There's Accommable, which is like AirBnB, but accessible.

Try using google for 'wheelchair accessible vacation home boston'. This actually returns results that aren't just on AirBnB.

Good luck. It's not an easy task, but you're starting early, and you'll find something!
posted by hydra77 at 1:47 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In case anyone was wondering, this is one of the reasons that AirBnB's "regulatory arbitrage" is bad for society.
posted by praemunire at 3:00 PM on June 2, 2017

Best answer: We have successfully done Passover seders (fully equivalent to Thanksgiving in terms of food requirements) in hotels - look for an all suite hotel that includes a full kitchen. Also, check out vacation timeshares like Wyndham where you basically get a full one or two bedroom apartment. (Just, for the love of God, dont' EVER buy into one of their timeshares but you can rent them just like a regular hotel room)

You might need a couple of suites to sleep everyone (and it can be a little tight to get all of the chairs around the table but we have done this very successfully for 8-12 people at least three different times. As a bonus, you can each retreat to your separate rooms as needed.

Also, you can compensate for the minimal kitchen by getting most-to-all of your Thanksgiving ready made from some of the high end grocery stores and restaurants - just reheat in the hotel oven.
posted by metahawk at 8:30 PM on June 2, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: This Residence Inn in Boston is the kind of thing that worked for us. It says wheelchair accessible and full kitchen. We would get a mix of studio suites and one or two bedroom suites and pick the largest as the dining room but use all of the kitchens to do prep and heating. In general, hotel staff was helpful about getting us extra chairs and at least didn't complain when we moved tables from one room to another to get enough space of everyone to eat together.
posted by metahawk at 8:39 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

A Marriott Residence Inn is definitely a good option.

Just one caveat about Airbnbs. Do some investigating about the kitchen. We stayed in a place recently that had a full kitchen (except dishwasher), but it was very poorly outfitted. They had some horrible cheap knives that could barely cut an apple. We had to buy a cutting board! Just keep that in mind and make sure you're getting a Thanksgiving-ready kitchen.
posted by radioamy at 11:51 AM on June 4, 2017

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