Restrooms – Travellers’ Issues


Restroom design, maintenance and cleanliness vary in many regions and countries. In some regions, restrooms can be appalling, infested with flies, are dark, uncomfortable and downright unhygienic.

Northern Europeans, North Americans, Japanese and Australians pay special attention to restroom cleanliness, whereas Middle Eastern countries in general pay scant attention to restroom design and cleanliness.

In Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Georgia, Armenia, and Egypt expect none existing or poorly designed restrooms except in hotels and luxury restaurants. Further, east, some tourism-oriented countries have done a lot to change their restroom “culture”. China is in the process of adapting new and improved standards mainly due to pressure from travel agencies organizing group tours. Japanese design, and maintain very clean toilets. In fact, they have developed a total toilet culture complete with bidets, heated seats, diaper change boards, automatic flushes.

Toto is one of the largest manufacturers of toilet equipment, and proudly presents its products in public places, including department stores in Tokyo. Chinese tourists visiting Japan are impressed enough to purchase one billion dollars’ worth of restroom equipment (2014 figures). In Italy, Spain, and France tourists attempting to use hotel and restaurant washrooms without purchase of food or drink or lodging are not only frowned upon, but simply told to leave. In Venice, all tourists must pay high fees to use very poorly maintained seat less public toilets.

In North America , all hotels and chain restaurants including fast food facilities allow anyone to use their restrooms. Most, if not all, are properly designed and maintained. If you are travelling in a group visiting Turkey, Iran, Russia, or any former U.S.S.R country make sure before embarking on a sightseeing tour to ask the tour guide where and when there will be a `restroom break`.

Group travellers are generally senior citizens and are particularly fastidious when it comes to restroom design, construction, and maintenance, especially if you are handicapped!

When travelling to developing countries make sure to take a few rolls of `western manufactured“ toilet paper if you are restroom fussy. Before travelling to any Middle Eastern country try to train yourself to use `eastern style` toilets.

You have been warned!