A holiday in Sardinia is planned for August this year for BBS Founder, Fiona & her wheelchair. As part of Italy she assumed that accessibility would be variable, as evidenced on a previous trip to Milan.

In Milan it was apparent that even the best hotels had a very different view on accessibility compared to the UK & US – namely the weird one grab rail rule!!

Take a look at the Disabled toilet at The Armani Hotel, below and you’ll see what we mean….

Hotel Armani Milan, With The Typical Italian ‘One Grab Rail’ Design! Not Sure Why The Other Bars Are Behind The Table.

However the hotel did have good access and the most stylish bar, The Bamboo Bar, adorned with the beautifully attired Milanese. One of the best places in Milan for a cocktail. We gave the bar 2.5 BBS Ticks for style and access even though the toilet was for the ambidextrous.

Additionally, the boutique Style Hotel she stayed in only had one grab rail in the bathroom and it was placed in between the shower and the toilet. Access was also hampered by a large step up to the hotel entrance but they did put rose petals on the tray for room service! 1.5 BBS Ticks for doing their best to help. Restaurants rarely have disabled facilities unless they are located in upmarket hotels. The Park Hyatt near Piazza del Duomo and Milan Cathedral had a well equipped disabled toilet but impossible to shut the door due to lack of space for the wheelchair.

Even in Milan she only saw one other wheelchair user in 5 her five day stay so one wonders how the disabled people of Italy cope?? The expensive and luxurious Bulgari Hotel (reviewed here) did fare better, with good accessibility and stylish design. We gave them the maximum 3 BBS Ticks.

Other BBS reviews of restaurants and bars throughout Italy identified a lack of accessibility and disabled toilets so stick to large international hotels is our advice. You also need to be aware that in Milan the terrain is rough – cobbles and tram lines are obstacles as well as high kerbs and narrow pavements but style is everywhere and Fiona would go back in a heartbeat.

But back to Sardinia. Lonely Planet have a short review of accessibility and say,

‘Sardinia has little infrastructure to ease the way for travellers with disabilities, and few museums and monuments are wheelchair accessible. Footpaths are generally well maintained, though the access to some of the island’s more remote beaches is on rough, off-road dirt tracks.’

The Italian Tourist Board have a very general statement on accessibility in Italy – it says it’s ‘open’ but there’s no detailed information. So it’s up to us to help and Fiona will report back after her trip in August.

Research for a hotel in Olbia came up with these reviews and the one grab rail issue continues……..

The Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Olbia – Sardinia, is located in the heart of the Sardinia port city of Olbia. Known as the gateway to Gallura region’s popular shops, clubs and restaurants, the area is famed for the many hidden beaches along the beautiful Costa Smeralda. This modern Olbia hotel is adjacent to the city’s central park, Fausto Noce, and boasts a stunning port view location. There is a pool but it’s probably not accessible.

As seen in the pictures below of the accessible room at The Doubletree Hilton there is only one available grab rail in the shower and around the toilet. The disability laws are less strict in Italy compared with other countries and that is why it is likely most bathrooms labelled “disabled” will only have one grab rail. Unlike Milan in Sardinia the international hotels are not a ‘safe bet’.


One mobility user who visited the Doubletree Hilton Olbia said “This hotel is very accessible to anyone with mobility issues. It had doors that open as you get close and the accessible rooms were very large. The key card opened the door by itself, nice! Anything we asked for was given quickly with a happy smile. The pool I did not use as there was just too much to do but it did not have a lift to get you in and out.”

The only other hotel in Olbia with a disabled room is the Jazz Hotel located just 500 metres from Olbia airport, 2 km from the centre of Olbia and a few kilometres from the most stunning beaches of northern Sardinia, the design of the Jazz Hotel is geared towards comfort, with an ‘all-encompassing sense of refined freshness’. Once again the accessible bathrooms only have one grab rail. Fiona will be reviewing both these hotels and she’ll inform us of how useful one grab rail can be, but we are assuming it will not be that practical.

The Jazz Hotel and Doubletree Hilton both get 1.5 unaudited BBS Ticks. We’ll wait to see how good Sardinia is for disabled people but if anyone has been do contact us with your reviews. We’ll continue our research as information is scarce!!!



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