This is an awkward review for me to write because I never actually accessed Bella Italia’s bathroom myself. I couldn’t get in.
I’ve been to this particular restaurant many times before, although not for a couple of years. You can read why and about my recent dining experience and restaurant access here.
I don’t remember if I’ve ever needed to use the bathroom at this Bella Italia (before blogging I never really thought about these things as much) on previous visits. I think I probably haven’t or I’d remember how difficult (impossible) it was. Or maybe I had a smaller wheelchair, the better the technology gets the bigger the chair is. Or maybe my driving skill has declined… unlikely!! But I’m thinking I’ve just not needed the loo there before.
The first obstacle was getting past other tables and diners, as you’ll have read in the previous post this particular Bella Italia is not designed very well. Or rather the seating plan isn’t. It’s very squished, the isles are tiny. Once through the main of the restaurant I come to a desk, chair and corridor. It’s a little narrow getting past the chair to access the corridor, I get a little stuck so my PA pushes the chair as close to the desk as possible, I squeeze through.
The accessible toilet is at the far end of the corridor on the right. I head down, my PA in front of me to open the door.
The corridor is narrow, about the same width as the bathroom door once it is opened. As hard as I tried, around 47 manoeuvres later (I exaggerate slightly) I am defeated, there is no way I can turn the 90 degree angle, on spot, to get through the toilet door! I just couldn’t do it.
Had the door been not quite at the end of the corridor, and the door able to open wider, back on itself, I may have been able to get at a better angle and gain access.
Failing to access the ‘accessible’ toilet I was stuck at the end of the corridor as it was too narrow for me to turn around. I reversed all the way back to the opening, my PA guiding from in front as there wasn’t even enough space for her to pass me. I almost hit into the chair, when a server notices me reversing and moves it to the side.
As I was unable to enter the bathroom my friend Lucy has kindly explained in her words what she thought of it.
‘Although the disabled toilet in Bella seemed in an awkward place the room itself was very clean, the door opened outwards into the corridor and was a little bit on the heavy side to move. I was happy to see the emergency cord hanging down as it should be and not tied up or pushed out of the way. Everything seemed well spaced out, sink was set nice and low but small, there was a mirror but above the sink so anyone in a wheelchair would find it hard to use. Size of the room was alright, I think Gemma would find it hard to turn easily in the room but is bigger than some others. Overall quite a good toilet if it was more easily accessed.’ – Lucy (not a wheeler herself but highly experienced in access due to being my friend and having worked with people having various disabilities).
I couldn’t decide if I should rate this ‘accessible’ toilet under my usual scoring system because this bathroom wasn’t accessible at all for me. However I realise that many people with disabilities can still use this facility, in the same way that I can use many accessible toilets that others can’t. Those requiring a Changing Places for example. Therefore I have still rated it, from a joint perspective of mine (form the photographs my friend took), and her thoughts. I have also added a new category ‘Entering/access’ which I will use to score the pathway to a bathroom and ease of access to it. I will include this in future reviews. I will also go back and add it to previous ones. You can read all my accessible toilet reviews here.
Changing Places 0/10
Thank you to Lucy Betts for the photographs, quote, and help with the scoring.