De Vere Orchard Hotel, Nottingham (East Midlands Conference Centre)

My Mum and I had the pleasure of staying at the De Vere Orchard Hotel which is conveniently placed right by the East Midlands Conference Centre and within the Nottingham University Campus. This meant that the hotel had plenty of car parking spaces and was surrounded by ample parking and beautiful grounds! The De Vere Orchard Hotel was also very close to Nottingham City Centre (it took us around 12 minutes in a wheelchair friendly taxi) and has lots of public transport links if you prefer that form of transport. There are more details on the De Vere website at https://www.phcompany.com/de-vere/orchard/.  The hotel has five accessible bedrooms, one of which is fitted with a hoist. I love that the De Vere hotel here are thinking about accessibility and guests who visit with a disability or limited mobility. We loved our girly weekend away here and took the opportunity to pop into the city centre and watch Flashdance the musical; the whole experience was great!

 The hotel is a very large modern building with lots of open spaces and places you can work or socialise in. You enter the Nottingham University campus off of the main road and drive through beautiful grounds with plentiful trees and plants. The signage is a little small to see when driving through the campus so drive slowly to make sure you don’t miss the turning. There are lots of parking spaces and parking is free which is really good when you consider the city centre location. Upon approach, you see the East Midlands Conference Centre on the right and a large car park on the left. There are disabled parking spaces in this large car park and a winding ramp up to the hotel entrance but I would recommend driving to the right and past the hotel steps and parking in that car park. Again, there are dedicated blue badge spaces but this car park is mostly on a level with the entrance so a wheelchair user doesn’t have to navigate a ramp while holding luggage. I wish the De Vere email had mentioned this when booking as a dedicated access email for those who have booked accessible rooms is always really helpful! Pictured below are the hotel sign, front, the conference centre, the first larger car park with ramped access and the second smaller car park to the right of the hotel building.

 You enter the hotel through large glass doors. There is a spinning door and large glass doors which were propped open so we had easy wheelchair access without having to struggle with opening heavy doors. The lobby is really big and has a light and airy feel with modern decor and touches of colour. There were lots of spaces to sit and have a drink from the bar, eat or do office work. Mac computers were available if you hadn’t brought your own. The check-in was an easy process and there was even a small pull-out worktop at wheelchair height for me to sign my checking in documentation which was a nice touch! The staff were really friendly and explained all about check out and breakfast timings for us. They also booked us a taxi that fitted a folded up wheelchair in the boot so my Mum and I could travel to the theatre in the evening. Also, don’t worry about the visible staircase from the Reception as there are lifts to give you access to every floor!

 Our room was really bright and cheerful with a very large window and a lovely photographic wallpaper showing a tree filled with green leaves. The bed was really comfy but was only a double size so wasn’t huge. It is worth noting that all accessible bedrooms have double beds and there are no twin rooms available.  The wheelchair was able to fit all around the room including down both sides of the bed and I liked that the emergency pull cord wasn’t curled away. This meant a disabled guest could reach the cord at floor level. The room was very clean and there were complimentary bottles of apple juice available. Interestingly, the first Bramley apple tree grew close by in Southwell, hence the apple theme of the De Vere Orchard Hotel! I liked the fact that there was a large ring-binder provided in the room with all the essential information such as gym opening times, dining times and local information. I wished the phone used in the accessible room had large buttons for those with dexterity problems but at least there were ‘quick dial’ options to easily call Reception or for room service. Inside the wardrobe was an ironing board and iron, a small safe and tea and coffee making facilities. I got a little confused thinking that the kettle was already plugged in but you just have to lift the tray and carry it to a plug. The biscuits were lovely and I liked that they gave you a couple of sorts of tea.

 I was really impressed with the wet room bathroom as it was clear that they had really thought about a disabled guest when designing this room. I did wish the small pedal bin was closer to the toilet for easy reach as it was across the room. The shower had a foldable shower seat and the toiletry tray was very helpfully within easy reach of a seated position. There was a rolled up non-slip mat provided and the sink was within easy reach of the toilet to wash your hands before transferring back into your wheelchair. There was also a larger sink to wash in at easy wheelchair height with a large mirror above. 

 I did have a few problems getting ready though as the nearest plug socket was a stretch to the full length mirror in my wardrobe for my hair straightener cord and that corner was really dark even with all the lights on! Perhaps a light inside the wardrobe or a nearby lamp could help this? Let’s hope I did my makeup properly! The restaurant in the hotel (Bramley’s Restaurant) looked lovely with plenty of space around tables for wheelchairs but it didn’t open until 6pm which would have been cutting it fine for Mum and I to make it to the 7.30pm musical at the theatre on time so we chose to use the lounge menu for evening dinner instead. We did have breakfast in the Bramley’s Restaurant space so have a look below for further details on this area. There were plenty of tables for a variety of group numbers around the bar and in separate rooms if you wished. We chose not to sit in a booth with the long sofa seats as I find it hard to transfer into these so instead sat at a smaller table for two where we removed a chair to fit in my wheelchair.   

 You ordered your food at the bar and the waiting staff were very busy at that time so there was a little wait to order. I ordered The Bramleys pizza which was topped with bacon, caramelised onion, stilton, mushrooms and apple (£11). This was massive and really flavoursome! Mum is being healthy so ordered the Superfood Salad topped with a salmon fillet (£15); this included spiced sweet potato, feta, brazil nuts, broccoli and quinoa. She said this was really tasty too! We had quite a long wait before food was served but it was worth it. 

 The hotel had conveniently ordered us a taxi which charged us a flat rate of £7 into the city centre and picked us up from directly outside the hotel doors. Flashdance the musical was amazing and we had a great night of sleep in the comfy hotel bed. As mentioned before, breakfast was served in the Bramley’s Restaurant space. It is served from 7.30am-11am on a weekend and 7am-10am on a weekday so we even managed to get a slight lie in! Check out was at 11am so we had plenty of time. The tables were fairly spaced out in the dining area and the busy staff were really helpful in finding us one with easy wheelchair access and with removing the chair that is normally placed where my wheelchair went. Breakfast was self-service which is always a bit of a problem for a wheelchair user as it’s impossible to balance your plate on your lap and self-propel. However, multiple staff members offered their assistance and my Mum was quite happy to push me around. The hot breakfast/ Full English selection was plentiful and the heated food trays were still fairly full despite us coming down towards the end of breakfast. The food was generally really nice (I didn’t like the scrambled eggs but I am really picky with these)  and overall I enjoyed it!   

There were fruit juices on offer from dispensers in the breakfast area and fresh tea, coffee and milk were provided on the table. The continental breakfast selection was good also with a wide variety of jams and spreads for toast and pastries, cereals, smoothies, preserved and fresh fruit and a continental selection of meat and cheese. The pastries were very fresh and tasted delicious! There weren’t too many different varieties available and the trays quickly emptied but perhaps they weren’t being replenished as we did arrive towards the end of the breakfast time.    

 The disabled toilet was close to the restaurant area/ bar area where we dined the previous evening and was nice and clean. It has all of the usual grab rails and  lowered toilet seat facilities. Overall, Mum and I had a wonderful stay at the De Vere Orchard Hotel (East Midlands Conference Centre) and would absolutely join them again for another stay. There were a couple of little “tweaks” to help the access of the room such as moving the position of the small toilet bin in the room and perhaps lighting the wardrobe mirror better. A dedicated access email to disabled customers is always a fabulous idea as it gives them a chance to plan their visit in further detail.  Despite these small areas for improvement, our experience was great! The staff were consistently friendly and helpful, the food tasty and the bedroom and wet room were large enough for me to mobilise in my chair easily. De Vere had clearly thought about their disabled customers’ experiences so I was really pleased with the whole experience!  Thank you for having us De Vere Orchard Hotel!