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Premier Inn Apologises to Paralympic Swimmer After Lift Outage

Premier Inn Apologises to Paralympic Swimmer After Lift Outage
18 December 2023

Paralympian Ellie Challis and her father were unable to access their Premier Inn hotel room due to a broken lift.

As reported by the BBC, Ellie Challis, a Paralympic swimmer who is a quadruple amputee and uses a wheelchair, arrived at the Premier Inn hotel in Romford, Essex with her father Paul on the evening of 2 December 2023. 

Ellie had booked a standard room because she finds the wet rooms in accessible rooms uncomfortable, as she told BBC. 

The room Ellie had booked turned out to be on the first floor of the hotel. Ellie and Paul were told that the lift was broken and waited for two hours for alternative accommodation to be found. However, when this didn’t materialise, the father and daughter made the four-hour journey home to Manchester. Premier Inn offered Ellie a full refund and a complimentary stay at a later date.

She told the BBC that she felt online bookings should be “simplified so wheelchair users can book a ground floor room.” Ellie also said: “If I was on my own, I would have been left at 19 to find myself with somewhere to stay at 1 am."

Ellie is a swimmer who became Paralympics GB's youngest medallist at Tokyo in 2020. She won gold in the Women's MC 50m Breaststroke and a bronze medal in the MC 50m Butterfly. 

Premier Inn told the BBC: "When a guest books an accessible room, this automatically triggers a pre-stay call to make sure the room booked is the most suitable for them. However, we understand some people with accessibility issues on occasion do prefer to book our standard rooms.

"Where this is the case we have an accessible email helpline, which again helps ensure the room allocated is the best fit for individual needs.

"In this instance for example, we would have prioritised this booking as a ground floor room so that in rare event an issue with the lift did arise, access would not have caused a problem."

Information from a 2022 press release from Premier Inn's parent company Whitbread suggests that hotel maintenance is managed in-house by a network of regional repair teams. 


Lifts Break Down on Average at Least Four Times a Year


According to data from smart elevator technology company Uptime, lifts break down on average at least four times a year, with each breakdown taking an average of four hours to be fixed. With more than 17 million lifts in operation globally, that’s nearly 272 million hours of downtime each year.

As well as creating huge costs for building and facilities managers, it can seriously disrupt the lives of disabled people and compromise their safety. In September 2023, The Independent reported that wheelchair user Chris Purnell had waited over a week for a lift in his building to be fixed. Fearing for his safety and his ability to attend his upcoming wedding, Chris dragged himself down several flights of stairs to make sure he was able to leave his home in future. 

Picture: a photograph of the interior of a lift showing the doors and button controls. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 18 December 2023


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