If you are confined to a wheelchair, or just have trouble with stairs, don’t rule out the pleasure of staying in a bed-and-breakfast. Many B&Bs in Florida offer a handicapped-accessible guest room.
Here is a sampling of your many options.
The Treehouse Cabana, at Melbourne Beach’s Sea Glass Inn, is equipped with extra-wide doors and an oversized walk-in shower. The ground-floor room opens on the courtyard and can be connected to the adjoining Yellow Hibiscus Room.
At the Sea Breeze Manor Inn, in Gulfport, choose the Key West Guest Cottage, “an ideal choice for our physically challenged guests as all facilities, including the shower, are wheelchair friendly,” according to the website.
At the Conch House, in Key West, the poolside cottage has a handicapped-accessible room with tropical wood furnishings and a private front porch.
Heron Cay Lake View goes one step further than most, offering disabled guests a reserved parking space. Its Zoi Garden Room, described as fully compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, overlooks the Zoi Garden, naturally, with French doors that open onto a private deck. (This ground floor room is also pet-friendly.)
Another accessible B&B in wonderful Mount Dora is the Grandview, which I can personally vouch for as I have stayed there twice. (Read my review.) Ideal for those seeking privacy, the Garden Room is the sole guest room in a small building steps away from the main house and the pool. The ground-floor room has a large bathroom and oversized shower.
Are you looking for a waterfront inn? Then check out the Bayfront Marin House, across from Matanzas Bay, in St. Augustine. The first-floor Napoleon Room is handicapped-accessible, with a large walk-in shower. The room can be outfitted with any additional amenities required for the handicapped. From the patio, guests have a view of the bay.
The Fleur de Lis Room at Centennial House, also in St. Augustine, offers a barrier-free bathroom with a walk-in shower.
For luxury, choose the Black Dolphin Inn, a Spanish-style boutique hotel I fell in love with during my overnight stay last year. (Read my review.) As I indicated in my review, the twin brothers who own the New Smyrna Beach property designed rooms for a variety of travelers. One of the two Courtyard View Rooms, adjacent to the Black Dolphin’s entrance and dining room, is designated for the handicapped.
I saw it during a tour. The huge room – with two king beds and a glass-mosaic-tiled bathroom – opens onto a lush, grassy courtyard surrounded by a privacy wall. The courtyard is used for pets.
While in New Smyrna, I also toured an inn down the street, the Night Swan Intracoastal; I would love to return to spend the night. The Mainsail Suite in the guest cottage is ADA compliant.
At the Hibiscus Coffee & Guesthouse, Grayton Beach, the Big Easy Room has a large bathroom and an extra-large shower to accommodate guests in a wheelchair. The room is fully handicapped accessible, semi-detached from the main house, with a small porch outside the front door.
At Port D’Hiver, across from the water in Melbourne Beach, disabled guests can take an elevator to the second floor rooms. I stopped in at this historic inn recently for a tour and was bowled over. I highly recommend a visit; the rates are high – starting at $279 a night – but Port D’Hiver is high class. (Look for specials at B&B Deals.)
Other historic Florida inns that provide access to the handicapped include: Addison on Amelia, Elizabeth Pointe Lodge and Williams House, Amelia Island; Alling House, Orange City; Camellia Rose Inn, Gainesville; Anchor Inn (formerly Longboard Inn), New Smyrna Beach; McFarlin House, Quincy; Sundy House, Delray Beach; Palm Beach Hibiscus, West Palm Beach; River Lily, Daytona Beach; and Tarpon Lodge, Bokeelia.
From what I have read about the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, bed-and-breakfasts are required to make guest rooms accessible to the handicapped in the case of new construction, renovations and when it is “readily achievable” to remove barriers from existing buildings.
The ADA applies not only to physical barriers, but communication barriers – such as faced by the blind and deaf. Inns may be required to provide Braille signs, phones with texting capability, smoke alarms with a visual aid and other amenities. Owner-occupied inns with fewer than six rooms in the same building appear to be exempt from the ADA.
If you’d like to stay at a specific inn, call and talk to the innkeeper about whether he can accommodate your particular disability. I’m sure most will be eager to assist you and welcome your business.
(Note: I accepted no compensation in exchange for writing this article.)