Kuehne June 2019
accessible restaurants leeds

Wheelchair ‘wining and dining’ around Leeds

Ben Cropper looks at accessible restaurants in Leeds and gives his top tips for restaurants looking to improve disabled facilities.

I’ve enjoyed many great evenings out in Leeds, a high proportion of which have been stress-free, making my disability irrelevant to the enjoyment of my night

The majority of people with disabilities don’t wish to be treated any differently to able-bodied customers. However, it’s appreciated that more venues are training front of house staff to better handle reservations from customers with special requirements. I have also noticed a recent surge in the number of venues that are equipped with spacious, accessible toilets in which there is ample room to fit not only a wheelchair but also up to two assistants.

Accessibility is improving

In the student suburb of Headingley, the newly refurbished Trio Bar and Grill is a reasonably priced, glamorous venue with accommodating staff. All three floors are also wheelchair accessible. If I had to be critical, the only pitfall I could think of would be that the wheelchair access to the building is through the smoking section as opposed to the main doors.

Towards greater Headingley and the village of Horsforth, there are other venues where I have had good experiences. One is The Village Hotel in Otley Road. Access is superb. There’s a wide ramp to the main entrance and the restaurant, bar and outside eating facilities are located on the ground floor, just next to reception, with no stairs to negotiate. Its bedrooms are wheelchair accessible for those also wishing to stay.

If you are looking for a good old fashioned pub to enjoy real ale and some rustic British pub grub, then the Old Ball in Horsforth is my tip. Tables are well spaced, with staff more than happy to reserve an area which best meets your needs.

Leeds has at least one of all the major chain restaurants and pubs, some of which are better than others from an access perspective.

I have found that all three of the city’s Nando’s are reasonably adequate however, when busy, it is often the case that fellow customers are required to move in order for me to get to my table, to the toilet etc.

Another popular chain is the Red Hot Buffet, located on the Headrow. While there are occasional technical issues with the lifts, the buffet area is designed with lowered counters, making independent food selection much more enjoyable.

From a disabled visitor’s point of view, I would wholeheartedly recommend Leeds as an inclusive city.

Ben Cropper is a Journalism graduate from Leeds Metropolitan University

  • Keep things simple – adjustments such as lowering the height of part of the bar so that individuals sitting in wheelchairs can be easily seen are much appreciated by disabled customers.
  • Have easy access to all levels so that disabled individuals do not feel isolated when out drinking with a group of able-bodied friends.
  • Please don’t use lifts as an extra storage area.
  • Stock up with straws.
  • Ensure that all staff are fully up-to-date with the procedure to be adopted for the protection of disabled guests in the event of a fire.
  • In restaurants, it is helpful if tables are kept a sufficient distance apart from each other. Disabled people don’t like to interrupt other guests during their meal to ask them to move so they can get to the exit, toilet or bar.

We also look at how restaurants, hotels, pubs and cafes are affected by the Disability Equality Act and how they can make their establishment welcome to all here.

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