How wheelchair-friendly is Paradiso?

How wheelchair-friendly is Paradiso?

4 min read
Paradiso is a unique and exciting music venue near Amsterdam’s Leidseplein. Located in a former church building,  its main hall includes high ceilings, spacious balconies and beautiful old church windows framing the main stage. Last month Paradiso hosted a brilliant performance by American singer-songwriter & musician Maggie Rogers. Ticket, wheelchair and friends in tow, I headed to the concert for a fun night of live music.
Paradiso is one of the few places I can say there are perks to being in a wheelchair. The main entrance can only be reached up a steep staircase, so I had no choice but to skip the massive line of people and roll up the ramp to the side entrance. After a quick ring of the doorbell, the door was unlocked, and I rolled inside.
More #wheelchairperks: Using the side entrance means you might just meet the night’s performers. On my way out of the side entrance (on another night) I bumped into Australian singer Jarryd James.
Ringing the doorbell of my VIP entrance
Arriving at Paradiso
Once inside, a Paradiso representative checked my ticket. I was given a lift key, to be returned at the end of the night. This wonderful key gave me the power to be independent and go up and down to the various floors without having to ask for assistance.
Before heading to the main concert hall I did a quick check of the ‘lobby’, souvenir shop and cloak room — all three were accessible.
Prime seating and great views
If you’re visiting Paradiso’s main concert hall with a mobility aid, I recommend heading to the 1st floor balconies for a good view of the stage. My favourite place to sit is in the right-hand corner of the balcony (see photo) as you’re not in the path of people heading to/ from the 1st floor bar. I couldn’t get to the front of the balcony (steps only), but the three bleacher-style levels meant my view wasn’t blocked by people sitting in front of me.
The ground floor area is also accessible for wheelchair users — but given that everyone else was standing, I’d have been lucky to catch a glimpse of the stage. The top balcony is only accessible via a staircase.
Me in a prime seating location on the 1st floor balcony
La toilette
Paradiso’s accessible toilet is located in the basement, easily reached with your BFF  the lift key.  The toilet is spacious, with support beams and an emergency cord. It was clean and well-stocked. My only point of improvement is the fact that the mirror has been hung up far too high for a seated wheelchair user.
A well-equipped accessible toilet in the basement
Potential challenges
During my little Paradiso-Maggie-Rogers-adventure,  I experienced a few challenges in my wheelchair:
  • The ramp up to the side-entrance is very long and a bit steep (I needed a friend to push me up).
  • The doors leading to the 1st floor balconies are heavy (fire doors) and impossible to go through in a wheelchair without assistance.
  • The doorway leading to the 1st floor balcony is do-able with a wheelchair, but not super spacious.
  • On your way to and from the lift & balcony doors, the space between the staircase and the wall is a bit of a squeeze (see photo)
  • The drinks bar is quite high
A tight squeeze on the 1st floor
8/10. Paradiso has definitely made an effort to ensure that guests with reduced mobility can enjoy their concerts and events. While wheelchair users can’t reach every floor of the main concert hall, there are plenty of accessible areas with a great view of the stage. There are a few tight turns and heavy doors, but overall Paradiso has good accessibility.
* Please note: I didn’t get a chance to check the accessibility of Paradiso’s small concert hall. This review is only based on the main concert hall.
Tips for your trip to Paradiso
  • Many concerts require you to buy a Paradiso monthly membership.  Memberships can be purchased in-person at the main entrance, but not at the side entrance.  Make sure to buy your membership online in advance. 
  • For prime seating and great views, head to the 1st floor balcony.
  • Bring your own pocket mirror if you need one – the mirror in the accessible toilet is too high if you’re sitting in a wheelchair.
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Josephine Rees

My name is Josephine Rees (1993) and I am Dutch-British. I was raised in Tokyo and Moscow and moved to The Netherlands to study Anthropology & Human Geography in 2012. After briefly living in Thailand and Cambodia, I am now based in Amsterdam. I love exploring Amsterdam and hope to help others by sharing accessibility tips.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Gail

    Looks like you will be a regular visitor to the Pardiso club! So glad you can get around there. I’m at the end of a large house renovation. Seems they have done well with most things in terms of infrastructure – adapting buildings for slightly different uses is never easy!

    Websites like yours, and greater awareness generally of the needs of those with different mobility needs, will surely only help to continue improving opportunities for people who find themselves unable to negotiate stairs etc. Maybe you can link up with architects and building designers to include helpful things at design stage in future buildings.

    Congratulations on your very stylish website!!

    1. Josephine Rees

      Thank you for your support! Indeed, there is a lot to think about when renovating and making a place accessible for people with reduced mobility. It’s great to see places making an active effort to be accessible and inclusive. Great tip about linking up with architects or building designers – I’d also find it interesting to learn more about the various accessible design possibilities out there. I’ll definitely keep that in mind for the future.

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