Following last year’s successful trip to Stirling, regular DH contributor, Carrie-Ann and her fiancé returned to Scotland, this time to check out Dundee’s accessibility.
We were really excited to be travelling to Scotland again, as we had enjoyed our previous stays so much. We changed trains in Glasgow, and managed to get from Central Station to Queen Street Station (a few streets away) to catch the ScotRail train without getting lost! As always, ScotRail staff were there to give us a hand.
Our hotel was the Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa, which is in the heart of the new City Quay development, and perfectly placed to enjoy stunning views of the Quay as well as the Firth of Tay and the Tay Bridges. Our room was spacious, with nice modern decor and the bathroom had both a wet-room shower and a bath tub, which provides a good choice for access requirements and preference. I have recommended that the hotel add accessibility information to their website. We had dinner in the hotel’s Metro Bar and Brasserie, where the food was great, and the staff very attentive.
The next morning, after sampling the hotel’s hearty full Scottish breakfast (with optional haggis!), we made our way to Sensation, Dundee’s Science Centre. They have over 80 hands-on interactive exhibits and almost everything is accessible. The atmosphere is bright and interesting, and we found the whole place very engaging – they have ‘Reclaim’ evenings for adults to see the science centre in a new light, socialise and enjoy a few drinks, which I think is a fantastic idea.
We then visited Discovery Point, which tells the story of the RSS Discovery from her beginnings in Dundee and Captain Scott’s remarkable Antarctic expedition over a hundred years ago, through her long ocean-going career until her final journey home.
Next we had lunch at Chambers Coffee House & Restaurant, which won the Eating Place of the Year 2009 award. Their chefs serve only homemade food and guarantee that everything that leaves the kitchen is fresh and, wherever possible, locally sourced. The restaurant is spacious and airy, with plenty of space to manoeuvre a wheelchair, friendly staff and great food.
That evening we had a wonderful dinner at the Hilton Dundee’s Riverfront Bar & Grill. The food was excellent, and we had a window table with views of the Firth of Tay. The only disappointment was that I found it difficult to get into the disabled toilet, because of the way that the doors were placed. After dinner we met the duty manager, and I recommended that the hotel install electronic door buttons. The hotel has wheelchair accessible rooms, a number of aids available for guests to use, and a hoist for the swimming pool.
Before the journey home to Kendal, we had a browse around the shops of Dundee. There is a mix of shops of all sizes, making it a vibrant city centre. I was delighted to discover the statues of Desperate Dan, Minnie the Minx and Gnasher in the pedestrianised area, as Dundee is the home of the Beano and the Dandy comics.
Our journey home, with ScotRail to Glasgow and then on to Kendal, went without a hitch, but it was a shame to leave! Dundee is a wonderful place, and I hope that after reading my report you will decide to visit.
With thanks to VisitScotland, Apex Hotels, First ScotRail and Tay Taxis, plus Dundee Science Centre, Dundee Heritage Trust, Chambers Coffee House & Restaurant, Hilton Hotels, the McManus, and Judith Sleigh of Tourism Scotland, who helped plan the trip.
By Carrie-Ann Fleming
Scotland: For information on Scotland and on accessible accommodation and visit attractions – call VisitScotland.com on 0845 22 55 121, email email@example.com or check out www.visitscotland.com/accommodation/accessiblescotland.
First ScotRail – 08457 48 49 50 www.firstscotrail.com
Virgin Trains – 08457 222 333 www.virgintrains.co.uk
Tay Taxis – 01832 450450
Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa Dundee – 01382 202404 www.apexhotels.co.uk
Sensation – 01382 228800 www.dundeesciencecentre.org.uk
Discovery Point & Verdant Works – 01382 309 060 www.rrsdiscovery.com
Chambers Coffee House & Restaurant – 01382 201533
Hilton Dundee – 01382 229271
The McManus – 01382 307200 www.themcmanus-dundee.gov.uk