Accessible Pub with Rooms in Northumberland | COVID Safe Travel
How are pubs making themselves safe and accessible for disabled guests in the era of COVID? In today’s #SafeAccessibleTravel interview, I chat with Chris Taylor from The Amble Inn, a pub with rooms offering wheelchair accessible facilities in Northumberland.
Can you tell us a little bit about The Amble Inn?
The Amble Inn is one of 13 inns across the North which is part of The Inn Collection Group. It opened at the beginning of 2019 and offers dining and accommodation services. It’s located in the Northumberland village of Amble, near to the Northumberland coast, as well as the Northumberland National Park.
We have 30 en-suite bedrooms 15 ground floor and 15 upper floor; all rooms are wheel chair accessible. We have two accessible rooms, one with a lowered bath and lowered bathroom facilities and a large area for wheel chairs. We have another room with a large walk/wheel in wet room, fitted with hand rails and emergency pull cords.
We do have a lift to the upper floor; giving us 30 accessible rooms.
Our bar and restaurant area has a large sized lower level; with spacious disabled toilet fitted with hand rails and emergency pull cords.
Guests can find out more about these rooms here or by ringing 0191 5803610, where our friendly reservations team will be able to assist.
Read More: My accessibility review of The Amble Inn
What is your role?
I’m Chris Taylor, General Manager.
How has COVID-19 affected your business?
COVID-19 has had a huge effect on our business as we’ve had to close for over 3 months. Although we are now able to reopen, we have had to make huge changes to how we run the business in order for it to be safe for both our guests and staff, which is our highest priority. We have learnt to function in a way that had never been seen before, which will be the ‘new normal’ for a long time to come.
The Amble Inn provides dedicated accessible facilities for disabled guests. How has the accessibility been affected by any changes you’ve had to make?
All of ‘new normal’ practices mean that we only conduct table service; reducing the need for continuous trips to the bar to order food and drinks, brining a new meal experience to the customer.
Have you taken any extra training to ensure that The Amble Inn is COVID safe?
All our staff have undertaken a COVID-19 Awareness & Prevention course before returning to work. They have also all received comprehensive training on all new measures and polices – we are also currently holding training for all staff in house in the lead up to reopening to ensure they fully understand the new protocols we have in place.
To ensure not cross contamination from room to room happens our dedicated housekeeping staff now wear new PPE which is changed after cleaning one room and entering the next. All rooms are sanitised with our designated suppliers’ recommendations.
Can you tell us about the cleaning procedures you have put in place?
All of our rooms are cleaned with the original cleaning products, and then the room is fully sanitised before signing off as ready; all contact points including door handles even down to coat hangers are fully sanitised.
We have implemented social distancing measures in accordance with government guidelines, with floor stickers and posters placed wherever appropriate. We have increased the already high level of disinfecting and frequency of cleaning throughout our inn, paying even closer attention to high use areas and object. Hand sanitiser dispensers have been installed at all entrances and exits, as well as throughout public areas. Anti-viral wipes will be available to guests too when requires. We’ve installed bespoke partitions/screens in high contact areas (such as check-in/check-out) for extra protection. All staff will be wearing appropriate PPE for their roles, including face masks, gloves, aprons, hand sanitiser and forehead thermometers. We’ve implemented new dining protocols, which include at table service (no bar service) and new disposable menus and condiments. Our tables shall only be laid once guests have arrived and been shown to their table, where we will also request that they stay seated during their dining experience. Hygenikx Air & Surface Amplifier systems have been installed in all our kitchens to provide clean air for food preparations. All rooms will be deep cleaned between each and every stay, with linen and towels cleaned to the recommended guidelines for optimal disinfection. Close attention will be paid to touch points such as TV remotes and door handles. Rooms will only be refreshing during stays on request to minimise contact. All our staff have been retrained to ensure total knowledge of these new procedures, as well as completing a COVID-19 Awareness & Prevention course.
Have you adjusted check-in and check-out times and procedures?
Our check-in and check-out times remain the same, however, the procedure has changed. We are requesting that guests use contactless payments (we can break down their bill to always allows this). We also have a Perspex screen erected to stand between our guests and staff, and staff will be wearing appropriate PPE. If guests must touch anything (card machine, pens etc), these will immediately be sanitised after each use. We have markers on the floor for social distancing in case of more than one check-in/check-out at a time, as well as hand sanitiser stations at the entrance/exit.
When checking out, guests are asked to put room keys in a specific box, which are then sanitised before being re-entered into the stockpiles.
Are you offering extra flexibility for bookings?
We have always prided ourselves in our flexible cancellation policy, which when booked gives guests up to 48 hours before their stay to cancel, as well as nothing to pay until arrival.
As you reopen, roughly how many people will be on-site at any one time?
We have a maximum capacity of 37 tables as opposed to the 43 we originally had, all of our rooms are still available, we have a maximum occupancy of 120.
Eating and drinking – what changes have you made to the restaurant/bar?
We have implemented numerous changes to ensure guests are safe when they dine with us. We will no longer be allowing guests to order at the bar, this will all be done by table service. Guests will be greeted at our entrance and shown to their table – the table will only then be laid once the guests have sat down. Cutlery will no longer already be on the table and we will be supplying single-use condiments too. We’ve created new, disposable menus which will be discarded after every use. Hygenikx Air & Surface Amplifier systems have been installed in all our kitchens to provide clean air for food preparations. We are requesting that guests stay seated as their table as much as they can during their visit. We have implemented a one-way system with a singular entrance and exit too.
For guests who wish to get out and about, are there accessible activities or places to visit nearby with social distancing measures in place?
Druridge Bay Country Park is an open outdoor area, a 7mile country walk, with beaches and a nature walk around the lake. Hauxley Nature Reserve, less than 0.5 miles away from the pub is a fantastic place to enjoy the scenery and observe local wildlife.
An important thing to consider when getting out and about is the availability of accessible toilets. Are you aware of local accessible toilets which are open at the moment?
Unfortunately, at the time of writing, there aren’t any public toilets open locally.
Are you able to provide information about nearby hospitals?
Wansbeck Hospital is situated 13 miles away from the inn and is a district general hospital with an urgent care centre open from 8am-10pm 7 days per week. NSECH is a fully functioning A&E open 24hours a day situated 34 miles away from the pub.
Have you made any changes that we haven’t already covered?
Where can people find out more about The Amble Inn?
Visit our website www.inncollectiongroup.com/amble-inn or ring our team on 0191 5803620.
A huge thank you to Chris for taking the time to answer my questions! I loved my stay at The Amble Inn in 2019, where I reviewed the accessibility, as well as some wheelchair accessible tourist attractions in Northumberland. Read all about it here.
If you’re planning future wheelchair accessible travels, I have some blog posts which may help.
Read More: #SafeAccessibleTravel Interviews