Tag Archives: hotel

Showers. 2.

What perversion of the mind besets the brains of bathroom designers? Surely, after a couple of hundred years of bathing, we, as a species, would have clearly defined rules about how to place a shower head.

Again it has happened to me in this hotel. I am so afraid of turning on the water to the shower and being blasted by an atomised spray of freezing water (usually enough to bounce off my arm and into my face) that when I turn on the shower, it is the same analogy of the snake catching spoken of in the other shower post. And it never works.

Come on guys. Place the shower head above the tap or faucet, and if you’re trying to make a design statement and absolutely need to place the thing somewhere else, give us hotel-livers a little stick with which to turn on the tap.

It’s almost the most stressful thing in my life to turn on the shower and see if I can outsmart the jet of water coming from some hidden orifice.

The Cold Shower

The other week I was at a hotel somewhere in the US. I had clearly chosen a poor time for my morning shower as I heard water flowing in the pipes in the walls of my room. This poor choice was accentuated when I turned on the water in the shower and only a strong, gushing, tepid stream came out. You know, the type that is just marginally colder than body temperature, the type that you wish for just a single degree warmer to make it bearable. I tried forcing the handle, turning it the other way, using harsh language on it, everything, the temperature did not change.

Side note: I cannot understand why the US has the taps (faucets) that do not allow the volume of water to be controlled. It is off, or on, and only the temperature can be adjusted. I can only think that it is a litigation thing – you must turn the control from cold to hot so that it is virtually impossible to scold oneself by having only the hot water on. Whatever the case, it is infantile, in my opinion. Like the warnings about the contents of coffee being hot. That’s like saying that when showering one could get wet.

Anyway, I waited for a long, long time, hoping stupidly that the temperature might increase. The gushing of water in the pipes (which I was acutely aware of) had already alerted me to the fact that this was not a problem with pipes between the furnace and jet of water emitting from wall in my bathroom needing to be heated up, this was a problem of there being no hot water in the hotel at all to heat up any pipes. It was also pointless phoning the front desk as I was sure they were not going to run outside and stoke fires on the incoming lines to sort the problem out – this was a problem that required more time to solve than I had available.

So, gritting my teeth, I stuck my arm in. Imagine someone trying to catch a venomous snake just below the head when it isn’t looking and half way in realising that the snake is turning his head. That quick – in, out. Lather up. To rinse off, more like the action of the drive rods on a steam engine, in-out-in-out in a blur.

This continued until I was approaching hypothermia. But my body was clean. (Ever notice how cold soap smells on the body?)

As I tried to turn the tap off, I got blasted by a jet of super-heated steam. It seems that there was some super-complicated sequence to get the hot water to come out, that I had not been educated in. Next time I will know better and do as most Americans would – phone the front desk and threaten to sue.

Boudoirs (Toilets)

This is one of those posts that Ma and Pa might not approve of.

I simply hate the toilets on airplanes. Usually I need to go just before the pilot needs to turn on the seat-belt sign. Generally I ignore the air-hostesses when they reprimand me (after all, I’m not going there on a sight seeing jaunt, I really have something that needs doing). But once I’m in, I know that there is probably a good chance that the pilot was not playing a practical joke on me and that there was a good reason to turn the sign on in the first place. Like my personal toilet nightmare, turbulence.

I am fairly tall, which means that using the toilet on any aircraft for a pee means cocking my head to the side, bracing my shoulders against the door, aiming carefully, peeing, and then spending 20 minutes cleaning up my misguided aim. I refuse to sit on the seat for masculine, and territory marking reasons. I realise I am not alone in this situation because the floor of the toilet is usually speckled with other people’s mis-aiming. I am sorry, but I hate to walk into a toilet with my dry flight socks on and leave with them wet, so I try to clean up after myself. My aiming is not from lack of practice, it is an error brought on by so called parallax, and clearly most of the male (hopefully not female) flying population suffers the same problem.

But peeing is only the beginning. No matter how desperate the situation, I do not use the bathroom to defecate (or shit, for the less refined reader). If I need the bathroom for that, even if it’s 15 minutes into a 16 hour flight, I know that there is 15 and 3/4′s hours of mental will-power ahead of me.

This is in part due to the fact that I have come to know that there are some really perverse little enzymes in my gut. A normal meal results in a normal smell for most people – processed in my gut it generates paint stripper. And paint-stripper that lasts for a long, long time. My children have consigned me to the outside bathroom for this very reason. The other part of the reason is that I am usually, first seat behind, nose-in-the-door close, to the bathroom – and I try to do unto others as I want done unto myself. (My seat allocation is a fact of life, like the fact of life that my bag is NEVER first off).

The result of this is that when I finally get to my hotel room after a flight, the first (desperate) order of business is the bathroom. I don’t know what they intentionally place in airline food, but the result, in my experience, is similar to an unhealthy dietary combination of beans and the hottest chili dish on the planet, all simultaneously trying to exit my body in one unearthly blast. It is quite unnerving, even to me.

As a consequence, I have become acutely aware of toilet design. I can, with a level of confidence derived from many desperate uses of these devices, compliment the US on the best toilet design in the world. No matter how desperate the situation, no matter how explosive the decompression, no matter how gut-crampingly bad the airline food, US hotel toilets flush it all away without the slightest sign of use.

So, to hotels the world over: stop putting those signs about using a face-towel instead of a body towel after a shower to conserve water – invest in US toilets and your staff won’t need to flush the toilet 20 times to get rid of traveler’s desperate relief (me included).