Broad is the Gate and wide the Path
That leads man to his daily bath;
But ere you spend the shining hour
With plunge and spray, with sluice and show’r –
With all that teaches you to dread
The bath as little as your bed –
Remember, whosoe’er you be,
To shut the door and turn the key!
Harry Graham- “The Bath”*
Harry Graham had it right, the bathroom is a private place. So why do the designers of hotel bedrooms think it smart or at all appropriate to put baths in bedrooms, or even worse a glass partition between the bathroom and the bedroom? I think it’s fair to say that after a certain age every man, and woman, would prefer to bath in private and unless you’re Paris Hilton most of the things you get up to in a bathroom are better sight unseen.
Privacy is a pretty basic requirement, but there’s so much else that the designers of hotel bathrooms get wrong. Minimalist taps are among the worst offenders, where a single lever controls hot and cold, bath and shower and you’re not given the slightest indication of how it works, so you can only find out by trial and error, usually getting drenched by cold water in the process. I encountered a pretty bad example of poor bathroom design today at the brand new Holiday Inn at Mediacity in Salford Quays. This is where the BBC put up all their guests. Holiday Inn is part of the Intercontinental chain which, with 646,000 hotel rooms worldwide, is easily the world’s largest. You’d have thought they’d have got it right, but not at Mediacity, by a long chalk. The rooms themselves are lovely and large, with floor to ceiling windows and are only let down by a ghastly purple and pink patterned carpet. But the bathroom has the world’s most unfriendly bath, so narrow that no American could fit in it, so short that your knees are up to your chin, and with a soap dispenser which can only be reached if you are using the shower. The shower, by the way, is fixed, so that if you are by any chance small enough to fit in the bath you can only rinse your hair by standing up to use the shower. The one redeeming feature There’s a door, with a lock.
* This is one of Harry Graham’s best – see here for a link to the complete verse.