Is A Staircase Really That Hard To Walk Up?

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Spiral StaircaseLast month I was hopping around various travel websites trying to figure out a good hotel to stay in for my winter trip to Venice. I usually just consider the synopsis of amenities the hotel provides and take a glance at the photos they put up. Taking into account the images were probably shot just after a refurbishment and only show the best-of-the-best rooms, I make as an informed decision as I can. However, although I’m yet to have a really disappointing experience from a hotel, I thought this time I would check out a few reviews from people who have stayed before. And this little journey around the Internet led to a remarkable observation regarding stairs, lifts and bone-idle laziness.

Now, there are a couple of points I should make here before I get onto the real point of this post; I am staying in Italy – a country whose history can be traced back many hundreds of years, and therefore it’s buildings are fairly old. Of course, this is the very reason why some people visit the country in the first place.

The second point I should make is that I’m a relatively healthy 27 year old who is not averse to a bit of exercise should the need arise. With a flight change in Paris, I will have to run across Charles De Gaulle airport in order to make a connection; a quick dash which from experience seems like a few miles with a ~12kg rucksack on my back. But a bit of effort from my body and mind really isn’t considered a chore to me. So anyway, on with the observation…

Some travel review sites I visited just required a couple of lines generally summing up the experience the guest had while staying there, and other sites required positive and negative points to be made. Some people just said “very homely with attentive staff” as a positive, and “I really cannot think of anything” as the ‘negative’ point. These kind of reviews were among the majority for many of the hotels I was looking at.

However, one particular comment stood out from the screen as I was scanning down the page. As a negative point, one reviewer noted “room was on third floor, and there was no elevator. Is it really that hard to get an elevator installed!?” My immediate reaction was “is it really that hard to walk up three flights of stairs?” Anyway, I dismissed it as a review from someone who complains about anything and everything. The reviewer also listed themselves as an American, which while I try not to judge, didn’t surprise me.

I continued scanning for a while trying to see if anyone had actually made an informing point about the hotel, when lo-and-behold, another grumble about lifts, this time from a Briton. “I can’t believe Italians live without lifts”. Sitting back in my chair, I was a little gobsmacked. I mean, it’s not like there weren’t any stairs! It isn’t as though the hotel staff harnessed you up, padded your hands with chalk a gestured you to climb up the outside of the building to get to your room.

I found about five comments along these lines for one particular hotel, and decided I had spent enough time looking at this place and should check out another. The only negative point I could ascertain from the reviews was that a few lazy people had stayed there previously.

Another hotel I was interested in was quite plush and the official blurb made it seem like one of those hotels I might feel awkward in because I’m not rich nor famous. But, the price was right as it is currently out of season, so I thought I’d have a gander anyway. And not a word of a lie…

Review 1. Do not stay here! My room was on the top floor and the building does not have an elevator. I should just point out, from the exterior photo, the hotel looks to be three stories high.

Review 6. When I asked the front desk where the elevator was, I was gestured towards the staircase. Have Venetions [sic] not heard of elevators?

Review 7. No lift and two flights of stairs with heavy luggage is not exactly what I imagined our holiday to be like. You mean, you carried your bags up and down the stairs every day of your stay? Are you crazy or something?

Review 11. Yada yada yada…

The reviews continued like this for a while, mixed mainly between British and American visitors, and ultimately left me open-mouthed staring at my monitor. What were these people expecting from their 19th Century building propped up from the lagoon and requiring serious maintenance work every five or so years to prevent it from sinking? Seriously!? If I stayed at a hotel that was 20 stories high and was built in the last 30 years or so, a lift would be very handy. However, to stay in a hotel which is older than some countries, and one that is only a couple of flights of stairs high, it really isn’t that much of a problem to lift one foot in front of the other.

And before it is mentioned, I have of course considered those who need help with walking, be it from a cane, frame or chair. But if you are in a position where stairs are going to cause genuine disruption to your holiday, you’re going to check beforehand, aren’t you? You’re going to ask for a ground floor room; you’re going to research the place to make sure it is wheelchair friendly; you’re not going to just presume.

For those people who are perfectly capable of walking up and down a flight of stairs, I have just two or three questions…

Am I really living in a world where people are too lazy to walk up a staircase? When did this happen? How do people cope with this affliction of laziness? My mind is currently boggled.