The restroom report
James Fryer took a few days off in loo to blow the lid on the unsung – but very handy – heroes of hotels, bars and restaurants. Photography by Karel Kita.
The UAE is has made it’s name as a land of luxury, opulence and a no-holds-barred attitude to building the biggest and the best. A place where no expense is spared, whether it be shopping malls, ski slopes, marinas or islands mapping the world. While these creations grab newspaper headlines around the globe, it’s rare that we stop to appreciate the smaller things in life. Have you ever taken a minute or two to appreciate our fine, ahem, thrones? The last bastion of peace and quiet. The final frontier of privacy. A place to relax and contemplate. What’s On set out on a quest to unveil some of the best restrooms in Dubai and discovered that someone has spent millions to ensure that spending a penny is never a chore.
LAVS OF LUXURY
These restrooms are far from bog standard. In fact, when can we move in? It’ll save a fortune in rent...
Khaymat Al Bahar
Tel: (04) 3668888
The abaya-clad lady who appears on the door to the ladies’ bathroom at the Khaymat Al Bahar restaurant in the Madinat Jumeirah gives some clue as to the taste of traditional Arabia that can be found at the tables. A long, low-lit room is decorated with sandy tones and opulent half-vase-lights, embellished with bright gem-like features. Golden washbasins shimmer away so even the worst hygiene-dodger will was their hands, while archetypal Arabian music wafts gently through the space like a cooling desert breeze. Bathroom bliss.
Grosvenor House Hotel
Tel: (04) 3998888
“Have you seen their bathrooms? I’d stay there for a night!” is something What’s On heard more than once when discussing Dubai’s best bathrooms. No wonder the hotel bagged the Excellence in Interior Design Award at the Arabian Travel Market, and got voted “one of the coolest hotels in the world’ by Conde Nast Traveller. The judges clearly went to the loo and found Fashion TV on the flat screen, chic velvet chairs, linen towels, yellow roses on the central island, an amazing bush-like chandelier and the sexy red curtain hung behind a row of mirrors. This lush lav lives up to the hype.
The Fairmont Dubai
Tel: (04) 3325555
It’s only fit that Dubai’s classiest clubbers should get the classiest of bathrooms. Peppermint punters can head next door to carry on the party on the funkiest of polished chequerboard floors or relax in what feels like a huge social dressing room lavished with marble work. The style stakes are heightened further still with the addition of tall hardback chairs shaped like a jester hat from a music festival, only with slick, black upholstery. Mirrors and fixtures are given a tasteful gold edge and every home aspires to have such rich, velvety, green curtains. If only there was a bar too...
Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club
Tel: (04) 2956000
The bathrooms just off the Aquarium Bar and Restaurant must be the only place in town to offer champagne-breathed beauties a welcome mouthwash fresh-me-up. It’s a simple but much appreciated gesture for returning to chat up, sorry, chat to, the boss’s wife. Decor is bright and airy with a combo of orangey beech woods and speckled cream tiles. The ladies even get a couple of comfy chairs and a vanity area with a bowl of floating pretty orange flowers, not to mention hair spray and brushes – as if they need to be encouraged to spend any more time in the loos.
Ritz Carlton Hotel
Tel: (04) 3994000
There’s only one way to follow up on a delectable tea at the Ritz, and that’s with a delightful wee at the Ritz – an equally classy affair. Timeless black marble is offset by regal touches including the Olympic-style light holders and slatted wood doors so you can take a truly private pee in peace. Well, it is the Ritz after all, old chap.
Tel: (04) 3520222
The mall’s shoppers have been blessed not only with a huge new extension and wealth of new designer shops, but also bathrooms boasting walls of deep, earthy pastel green mosaics you could just dive into. Simple but bold porcelain with silver fixtures are married with chocolate-brown panelling concealing paper towels. Soft jazz and classic piano ditties keep the beautiful people happy and refreshed before another assault on Dubai’s finest boutiques.
Tel: (04) 3668888
Go from exquisite food and surroundings in the Mina Al Salam’s Zheng He’s restaurant to the equally impressive bathrooms. Time-honoured Chinese music is piped out into a compact area boasting amazingly striking red and black speckled walls. A scattering of red petals surround bowl-like washbasins and hovering just above you’ll find the elegant fixtures jutting out from the bold tile work. It’s classical oriental elegance that’s a world apart from your typical toilet.
Our favourite toilet scenes from the silver screen, where the loo is the real star.
One of the most infamous, disturbing toilet scenes ever. Ewan McGregor as Renton crawls into Scotland’s worst toilet – which looks like it should be condemned – before diving in and finding a magical coral reef. Brian Eno’s Deep Blue Day plays merrily away.
Missing his watch, Butch (Bruce Willis) stops by his flat. He finds his watch, toasts Pop Tarts and notices a MAC-10 submachine gun on the counter. The loo flushes. Butch grabs the gun, Vincent (John Travolta) appears and, as the toaster pops, Vincent is shot.
Meet the Fockers
Despite Greg’s efforts to be taken into his father-in-law’s ‘circle of trust’, he is blamed when Mr Jinx, the father-in-law’s beloved cat, flushes Moses, the Fockers’ pet Chihuahua, down a motorhome loo. Luckily Moses only ends up in the sewerage system, but he emerges covered in bright blue cleaning liquid. And that’s after Greg destroys the toilet with a fire extinguisher, naturally.
Dumb and Dumber
When Lloyd (Jim Carrey) discovers Harry, (Jeff Daniels), has muscled in on Mary he spikes his tea with a laxative. A comedy poo scene ensues, but once he’s finished, Mary informs him that the loo won’t flush. Harry rips the bowl off the floor rather than confess his mess to his red-headed, doe-eyed dream girl.
Death by T-Rex while on the loo – is there a crazier way to go? A scared chap takes refuge in a portaloo but an escaped dinosaur plucks him from his toilet seat and he is devoured in one fell swoop.
ALL CISTERNS GO
All your washroom worries rinsed away with What’s On’s handy etiquette guide.
Gone are the days of simple taps that are twisted on and off. Today it’s all about style over substance and testing the patience of those seeking the aqua goodness. Is there a hidden knob? A sensor? Should you start clapping? A foot pedal? Whatever you try you’re guaranteed that just as you deem the faucet faulty, out spurts the water. Usually on your trousers.
What’s On advice: Push, pull, twist and wave. Or just wait for someone else to show you the way.
To tip or not to tip
If an attendant has turned on your tap, given you a squirt of soap and then presented you with paper towels, should you be reaching into your pocket? And then, how much should you tip?
What’s On advice: Don’t be so stingy. If there’s a dish containing chewing gum, lollypops and five dirham notes, it’s clear how flash you should be with your cash. If you decide to instead make a quick, sharp exit without literally spending that penny, you better hope your bladder doesn’t let you down again anytime soon.
Line of sight
Gents suffer the dilemma of not knowing where to look when at the trough. Especially the first time you find yourself rubbing shoulders with your boss. Should you strike up conversation? What’s a suitable subject at that delicate moment? Do you look him in the eye?
What’s On advice: See the ad for all-you-can-eat buffet night in front of you? Don’t take your eyes of it, only speak when spoken to and stick to the topic of football. This is no time to pour out your heart because your wife has left you for her tennis instructor.
At the queue for the ATM, the fruit and veg weighing counter and the bathroom mirror, you’ll always find those people too impatient to wait their turn to get their cash, apples or lipstick touched up.
What’s On advice: Ladies, you might be the fairer sex, but don’t be afraid to get down and dirty. It’s polite to wait your turn to get to the mirror, and but then you must guard your position with all the might you can muster while simultaneously applying mascara.
Girls in the boys
Girls, fed up of waiting in line often make a dash for the men’s. After all, blokes don’t even use the cubicles, right?
What’s On advice: Why you’d ever favour such a risky option over waiting a few more minutes is beyond us. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. It’s not becoming – and we know what your reaction would be if a man starting unzipping in the ladies’ toilets.
Flushing away the myths with facts to bowl you over. We won’t yank your chain...
- We spend around three years of our lives perched upon the porcelain potty.
- Research has revealed it really does take longer for girls to spend a penny than boys.
- On average we visit the toilet between six to eight times a day – that’s about 2,500 times a year.
- The first cubicle in a public bathroom is likely to be the least used and the most clean.
- Most toilets flush in the key of E flat.
- November 19 is World Toilet Day.
- We use an average of 57 sheets of toilet paper a day.
- Way back in 1391 the Chinese Bureau of Imperial Supplies first produced toilet paper – 720,000 sheets a year measuring a rather generous 2’x3’ each – for use on the bottom of the Emperor.
- The average toilet is flushed eight times a day.
- In China there are public toilets for dogs.
- Diana Ross has allegedly been known to insist on having cellophane-wrapped toilet seats in her dressing room.
- Judy Garland, Elvis and Catherine the Great all met their maker while sitting on the loo.
- Queen Elizabeth I used a box-shaped portable toilet covered in red velvet and trimmed with lace, complete with a lid and carrying handles.
- Arthur Giblin is argued to be the inventor of the flushable toilet as we know it today. He is rumoured to have later sold the rights to Thomas Crapper who branded the cistern with his name. American soldiers stationed in England during World War I returned to the US using his name as a euphemism for the toilet.
- Around the time of the Industrial Revolution, people would toss their waste out of windows and shout “gardez l’eau” meaning watch out for the water, thus giving rise to the word ‘loo’.