London by Wheelchair
Updated: Jan 24, 2019
Some of London is very accessible, while other parts can be a nightmare for disabled visitors. This guide covers my favourite places that are easy to access, along with tips on getting around to make the most of a trip to London.
London's cabs are accessible, with features including ramps, swivel seats, grab bars, hearing loops, and the possibility to travel with assistance dogs. You can even take a black taxi tour!
London's buses are free for wheelchair users, which is great for those on a budget. They have ramps, wheelchair spaces, priority seating, and audio-visual information.
Places to Visit
Hyde Park has everything: from events and concerts, to memorials, to sports, to self-guided walks. Visitors can take in public speeches at Speakers Corner, swim in the Serpentine Lido or simply relax and enjoy the nature and wildlife. The park is step-free, with accessible parking and toilets, and lots of seating and refreshment areas. There is a scheme called Liberty Drives, which helps people with mobility impairments to enjoy the park. It features a buggy that can carry at least four people! Hyde Park Senior Playground has six pieces of accessible exercise equipment designed to help older people improve core strength, flexibility and balance.
Read about my visit to Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland - Festive London by Wheelchair
South Bank has smooth walkways, ramps, benches and many attractions offering great facilities and services for disabled visitors. These include the London Eye and River Cruise, the Sea Life London Aquarium, the London Dungeon, the Tate Modern, Shakespeare's Globe and the National Theatre. Alternately, South Bank is a great place to people watch and enjoy the many street performers. The Visit London website has an Accessible London Maps section, which can help with getting to and navigating around South Bank.
The self-guided audio tour offers a fascinating insight into the history and traditions that make up Parliament, while giving you a glimpse of the beautiful art and architecture inside. The tour starts in 900-year-old Westminster Hall, and assistants can escort visitors with disabilities from Westminster Hall to Central Lobby, which is particularly interesting, as the accessible route takes you to areas that other visitors don’t usually get to see. The sheer size of the Palace of Westminster is amazing, and following the same route as the Queen at the State Opening of Parliament is pretty special. An accessible public toilet, including a changing bench and a hoist, can be found in Lower Waiting Hall, just off Central Lobby. Visit the Houses of Parliament Shop, where you can buy everything from books, to cufflinks, to wine. There is also a cafe serving yummy treats!
For more information, read my full review of Visiting Parliament by Wheelchair
The Science Museum is full of fun, interactive, experiences and has interesting exhibitions for all ages, each accessible to the widest range of visitors possible. Think full wheelchair accessibility, a large print accessibility map, Braille resources, events for deaf audiences and audio described events for partially sighted or blind visitors! Entry is free for all visitors. A limited number of adult and child wheelchairs are available and may either be booked in advance or borrowed on the day of your visit.
The Noel Coward is a grand, traditional London theatre. Wheelchair users have the advantage of private box seating at a special access price (subject to availability), seating one wheelchair user and one companion. The theatre staff are cheerful, friendly and helpful. Accessible facilities include a ramp, headsets for those with hearing impairments, wheelchair and mobility scooter storage and accessible toilets. The theatre has three bars, which are all accessed via stairs. Staff can bring drinks to customers with access requirements.
The All England Lawn Tennis Club issues an easy access guide to Wimbledon with the purchase of wheelchair tickets. It's very comprehensive, and contains all the information that a disabled spectator needs to visit the Wimbledon Championships. The grounds themselves are completely flat, with a smooth tarmac surface, ideal for wheelchairs. Each wheelchair ticket comes with a complimentary companion ticket and a wheelchair space and reserved seat. There is ample room in the wheelchair space, even for a large mobility scooter. Our space at court 2 had a fabulous view, and a good patch of sunshine! There are accessible toilets near every court, as well as food outlets which are either level with the ground or ramped. If you are after souvenirs, there are several gift shops and stalls, the largest being near court 1, which is more spacious and more accessible than the rest. If you are not fortunate enough to catch a game at Wimbledon, the museum and tour is offered all year round.
For more information, read my full review of Accessible Tennis at Wimbledon
Bars and Restaurants
Bugis offers authentic Singaporean, Malaysian and Chinese cuisine, just around the corner from Kensington High Street. It's located within the Copthorne Tara hotel, which was one of the first hotels in London to have wheelchair accessible bedrooms. Restaurant staff are attentive and helpful – nothing is too much trouble. I've eaten here many times over the last 10 years, and my favourite dish has to be the Nasi goring – spicy fried rice with chicken, shrimps, vegetables and fried egg on top. Save room for dessert – everyone should try chocolate spring rolls with raspberry dipping sauce once in their life!
London is the home of the original Hard Rock Cafe on swanky Old Park Lane. Dine and drink here for attentive service, a buzzing atmosphere, American-style comfort food and delicious cocktails. It is worth calling ahead to be added to the priority list for diners with access requirements – otherwise you could be up for a very long wait! Hard Rock Cafe London has an accessible toilet.
When I visited Icebar London, as someone who feels the cold easily, I wasn't sure what to expect. I need not have worried, as a specially designed thermal cape fit over my wheelchair, which coupled with wickedly strong cocktails served in ice glasses, kept me nice and toasty! The floor is made of non-slip metal, so it easy for those with mobility issues to walk or wheel over. Don't forget to take photos!
A funky atmosphere, imaginative decor, good music and quirky cocktails are all in the offering at Foundation Bar. As the name suggests, it's at basement level, and there's a platform lift along with helpful bouncers to assist those who need it. A spacious accessible toilet is available, and staff are happy to part the crowds on busy nights. The happy hour includes a great deal on drinks and platters, every day 5:30-7pm. Tables, private parties and queue jumps can be booked in advance.
Where are your favourite accessible places in London?