Hospitality Trends & Accessibility

Hospitality Trends & Accessibility

Perpetually engaged in refreshing and reinventing their environments to keep a competitive edge and provide patrons with experience-driven amenities and services, hotel establishments and brands see trends come and go.

Performing ADA compliance assessments at hotels and resorts all over the country – from New York to Hawaii – LCM Architects’ accessibility specialists are frequent travelers and have seen a number of trends unfolding in the industry. They share their observations about trends and the accessibility implications operators and managers should be aware of to ensure guest safety, comfort, and satisfaction.

Reception Pods/Kiosks

In traditional hotels, digital kiosks in the reception area are a time-saving alternative to front desk service for an increasingly tech-savvy population. In self-service hotels, digital kiosks allow for a fully automated check-in/check-out experience.

Accessibility issues:

  • Protruding objects – e.g. counters that overhang
  • Reach range – For items such as brochures or key return boxes that may be out of reach
  • Height of counter and knee space

Great Room Lobby

Lobbies are no longer just transitional spaces, but destinations for guests to plug in or socialize in a community environment with Wi-Fi, plenty of electrical outlets, and furniture that can be flexibly arranged.

Accessibility issues:

  • Accessible routes – e.g furniture obstructing physical access
  • Sufficient accessible laptop work surfaces
  • For digital work surfaces, have outlet locations within reach
  • Protruding objects – e.g. light fixtures, shelves, counters, wall mounted decorations
  • Loose area rugs

Bars and Restaurants

Bars in dining areas or lobbies are guest experience features. Most bars have high top seating, although some restaurants also favor high top tables in the dining area.

Accessibility issues:

  • Accessible counter space at the bar with sufficient space for comparable companion seating
  • Distributed/integrated accessible seating – Dispersed throughout space, not isolated in a corner
  • Don’t use accessible spaces for other purposes – e.g. not for cash registers, food display, or other operational functions
  • Provide tables with clear floor space, knee and toe clearance

Rooftop Amenities

Rooftops have become multi-purpose areas for guest amenities, often featuring a restaurant/bar and swimming pool for guests in the daytime and a bar open to the public at night. As hotels get creative with amenities, adding rooftop gardens, dog parks, or areas for yoga instruction, ADA compliance is still required.

Accessibility issues:

  • Elevator access to rooftop
  • Protruding objects – e.g. counters that overhang greater than 12 inches, light fixtures, shelves, wall mounted decorations
  • Inaccessible bars – Same issues as Bars and Restaurants
  • Integrated, not isolated, accessible seating 

Single User Toilet Room

Often found in restaurants, single-user toilet rooms help solve limited space design concerns while also addressing the issue of gender ambiguity.

Accessibility issues:

  • If there is a cluster of toilet rooms, not all have to be accessible
  • Units can have toilet and urinal, but only toilet is required
  • All elements must be accessible – entryway, turn radius, sink/toilet height, fixtures

Infinity Pools

Infinity pools are a popular amenity driven by visual effects and views to enhance the guest experience.

Accessibility issues:

  • Provide proper pool lift equipment that is operable by user
  • Accessible route to and around the pool lift
  • Surface next to the lift must not to exceed 2.08% (1:48) so wheelchair does not roll toward or away from the pool edge and lift

Grab & Go

Hotels are providing convenience food areas on their premises, so guests don’t have to leave hotel for snacks or quick meals. Ready-made food is available in a food court type area.

Accessibility issues:

  • Accessible routes – Routes free of excessive items/racks
  • Reach range – Proper accessible height for self-serve areas


The trend is to eliminate bathtubs and provide only showers, allowing for a smaller guest room footprint.

Accessibility issues:

  • Different shower types specified by ADA – Transfer shower, roll-in shower, alternate roll-in shower
  • Transfer showers required where bathtubs not provided
  • Number of accessible showers based on the total number of units in the hotel – Typically 3%, but varies according to local codes

Micro Rooms

This trend is towards minimal space, minimal furniture, or amenities – no closets, no desks – in guest rooms. Millennials, who want low rates and tend to spend more time in public areas instead of their private rooms, are a target audience.

Accessibility issues:

  • Adequate accessible routes and turning space – e.g.  route to curtain controls if not mechanized
  • Reach range – e.g. clothing hooks in lieu of closets
  • Accessible bathrooms – Same issues as transfer shower size, smaller footprint

Guest Rooms with Fitness Equipment

Fitness centers have long been an amenity in hotels. With increasing popular focus on personal wellness, some hotels are providing fitness equipment in guest rooms.

Accessibility issues:

  • Accessible routes – e.g. required clearance around equipment
  • Equipment should not encroach on other accessible routes in the room – e.g. route to curtain controls if not mechanized, route to bed or bathroom, etc.


This post was written by Guadalupe Gricelda Romo and Michelle Winnecke, CASp

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