Blue Badge Style lifetime achievement award for Charlie Lyons
Pictured here at the awards ceremony are Fiona Jarvis (co-host and founder of Blue Badge Style), Charlie Lyons (Sesame) and Mik Scarlet (co-host). Image Nathaniel Davies

Last week saw the first Blue Badge Style Awards Ceremony in London

They made eleven awards to stylish hotels, restaurants and bars, which have made an effort to attract guests with disabilities. Plus one for the most ludicrous loo, which was apparently a crowded category! Blue Badge Style is a website and app which aims to connect disabled clients with stylish venues where they can be confident of an accessible welcome.

Award winners can be found around Britain

Winners span the country, with the Dakota Hotel in Glasgow winning Best Boutique Hotel and Bryn Williams in Cornwall winning Best Budget Restaurant. There were many triumphs for venues in listed buildings too. The Beaumont won the Blue Badge Style & Historic England Award for Best Listed Building for its combination of art deco and accessibility.

Blue Badge Style Founder, Fiona Jarvis says:

Too often people with disabilities don’t go out because they don’T know what to expect when they get there. Places like the German Gymnasium make it easy and elegant. They won the Best Loo award for having all the right facilities, but getting away from the clinical style of most disabled toilets. The design of their loo is as stylish as the rest of the restaurant and even has cool music and wallpaper!

And the winners are

Blue Badge Style Best Budget Bar – No.1 Duke St., London
Judges said:

No.1 Duke St is accessible and in an old building. It has an exemplary disabled toilet, plus a lift installed for the upper floor.

Blue Badge Style Award for Best High End Bar – Bellanger, London
Judges said:

The ramp into the Bellanger bar area and the low tables make whole place inclusive.

Blue Badge Style Award for Best Budget Restaurant:  Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias, Cornwall
Judges said:

It’s often difficult to find good facilities the further afield you go. But Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias has a well-designed disabled toilet and great access.

Blue Badge Style & Conran and Partners Best High End Restaurant: German Gymnasium, London
Judges said:

Feeling lonely and want to make new friends? Come join the MDM Club for free. Our Club members include people with autism, depression, anxiety, mental illness, blindness, deafness and many other disabilities.

The German Gymnasium is so easy to access and nowhere is out of bounds due to an internal lift in this listed building! Typically German, in the best possible way!

Blue Badge Style Award for Best Boutique Hotel: Dakota, Glasgow
Judges said:

The Dakota hotel in Glasgow has an accessible bedroom on each floor, which is unusual.

Blue Badge Style Award for Best High End Hotel: South Place Hotel, London
Judges said:

South Place is stylish and exceptionally accessible, but the best bit is that you can see all of this by looking at their website.

Blue Badge Style Award for Best Loo: German Gymnasium, London
Judges said:

The Grand CafE, on the ground floor of the German Gymnasium, is the best area and close to the amazing disabled toilets. Far removed from the normal plain white clinical disabled loos the design of these loos is entirely in line with the rest of the restaurant.

Blue Badge Style Award for Most Ludicrous Loo: Tom’s Kitchen, London
Judges said:

Competition was stiff for this award. There were loos which were just big rooms with no grab rails; loos where you needed to be an orangutan to use the rails and ones where the doorway was too narrow to allow a wheelchair in! By contrast, Tom’s Kitchen had all the right kit, in the right place. But the loo had been used as storage space, so it was impossible to use. If they only took the junk out and advertised that they had a decent loo, they might attract some guests with disabilities.

Blue Badge Style & Historic England Award for Best Listed Building: The Beaumont, London
Judges said:

The Beaumont has maintained the style of this Grade II Listed art deco building and yet also made the whole place accessible.

Blue Badge Style Best European Venue – Restaurant Steirereck
Judges said:

One of the best restaurants in Europe, the Steirereck combines style, beautiful architecture and accessibility brilliantly.

Blue Badge Style Award for going Above and Beyond: Bank of England
Judges said:

In putting in a lift for employees and visitors at the iconic front steps, The Bank of England has gone above and beyond the call of duty to make this listed building accessible.

Blue Badge Style Lifetime Achievement Award: Charlie Lyons, Sesame

Charlie Lyons has designed elegant access into previously inaccessible buildings. By creating a lift that retracts stairs and magically transforms them into a wheelchair lift, he has benefitted countless people with disabilities.


Further Resources

You can look for accessible and stylish venues on the Blue Badge Style website (it will open in a new browser window).

It is actually a legal requirement under the Equality Act 2010 to make “reasonable adjustments” in order to provide access for disabled customers – “ a law which is all too frequently disregarded.

You can listen to a podcast interview with solicitor Jonathan Fogerty about using legal resources to improve access, here.

And disabled access crusader Doug Paulley has developed useful tools to encourage others to demand their legal rights – you can read more here.

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