Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The World's Best

In case it's not clear yet, I love a good bathroom. When reminiscing about my travels, often the details that stick out most in my mind are the personal facilities that I encounter. Some are glamorous, others torturous. Asian bathrooms can generally be placed in the latter category, but Europeans know how to do it right.

Two cans of distinction stand out in my mind as the best the world has to offer, both swanky hotel lobby ladies' rooms:

First place: Claridge's Hotel in Mayfair, London

Not the lobby bathroom, but you get the idea. And that ain't no ¡Bidet Ole!

This hotel is the best London has to offer. As my mother repeated a minimum of 450 times during our happy hour in the bar, "This place is SO. CLASSY." The lobby itself warrants a few minutes of open-mouthed awe -- the tiled floor! the velvet seating! the crystal! the marble! the molding! And my god, the art deco.

As this particular trip was several years ago, I don't remember the finer points of the restroom, save for a few things. The hand soap smells better than Chanel, you could eat off of the toilet seat (not that I recommend it), I'm pretty sure the TP was eleven-ply, and when you ask the concierge where the loo is, he wordlessly leads you directly to it.

The men's room - even the urinal anti-splash screens are classy! (The women's room is way better, trust)
Drool over their class-drenched website here.
Rating: 18/10

Runner-up: Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens, Greece

A decent view, if you're into the Acropolis and that sort of thing.

This modest little gem is where I spent 20 Euros on a martini to celebrate my 21st birthday (I could only afford one - tragic!). Their rooftop bar offers bubbly cocktails and soothing breeze to help you forget about all the plebeians scurrying below.

Part of the lobby. Yes, part.
If you're actually staying in an $8 per night hostel six blocks away, it's best to show your face around the lobby a couple of times so that the doormen recognize you before casually slipping down the velvet staircase to the lower-level lounge four times a day. I think by the end of week in Athens, the concierge tipped his cap to us every time we entered (just to use the bathroom, of course, but he didn't need to know that).

A "classic room" commode
This particular restroom comes in handy for the weary backpacker. Lots of seating (aside from the toilets), luxurious soaps and lotions to refresh yourself with. Amenities are Gilchrist & Soames, which I gather are quite expensive. Because the bathroom is downstairs and out of the way of lobby traffic, its seclusion offers a tranquil environment for the shy among us. Each marbled stall is its own little bathroom, complete with sink and mirror. This situation is ideal if you need a little extra privacy to do your deed. Actually, I managed to lock myself in one of these precious little privies. Thank god I wasn't traveling alone, and my companion heard my screams for help (she was seconds away from summoning the concierge, which certainly would have exposed our scheme). I suppose if I had to be trapped in any confined space, it would definitely be this one.

Better not look at their website unless you're planning a trip, because you might cry.
Rating: 12/10

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