Puzzled by Hotel Bathroom. Help!

Can someone please explain what I'm missing here? My husband and I traveled to Switzerland last month. We stayed in 3,4 and 5 star hotels. In the 3 and 4 star hotels, the bathtubs used a folding glass door that covered about two-thirds of the tub when unfolded. However, while taking a shower, the water from the showerhead would spray the back wall of the tab enclosure and then splash on the floor. Adjusting the showerhead towards the inside wall or folding the glass shower door at a slight angle to deflect the water didn't help as the water also leaked out from the base of the door. It was even more difficult for my (tall) husband to maneuver when he tried to deflect the water from spraying outside of the tub. We intend to return to Switzerland and skip the 5 star hotels (large fully enclosed showers but really pricey room rates). How do we use those shower doors correctly without making a daily flood?

Posted by James
Frisco
1796 posts

Pamela, I cant wait to hear the educated responses you get to this one. No, seriously; we have the same issue when traveling. Did your husband actually try to sit down in one of those tubs. Way too narrow and too deep usually. Dang near impossible for me to get back up. Why sit? So I wouldn't spray water all over the bathroom with the shower. When we finally had the opportunity to own our own place in Europe we made sure that the place had a real American shower. So you aren't alone with your confusion.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3205 posts

I've traveled throughout Europe a lot (it's not just Switzerland) and the exact same thing always baffles me! It is one of the Great Mysteries and seems incredibly illogical. Water getting all over the floor must happen to them too.. I do not understand it! And what's up with that hand held shower head in the tub with no inclosure at all? James, you not only have to sit in the tub, but you have to sit sideways so it's aimed at the wall! So ridiculous.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17776 posts

Pamela, I've also encountered that style of shower on several occasions, most recently in Spain in June. I find it to be a rather awkward arrangement, as the glass "wing" is mounted on hinges and often has a limited range of motion, sometimes making it difficult to access the shower. I'm always afraid of breaking it. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that rooms using that style of shower are constructed as a "wet room", and therefore it doesn't matter if some water gets on the floor. I tend to use the hand-held shower nozzle, and try to direct the water away from the glass panel, but invariably some water always ends up on the floor. I just throw down the bath mat and don't worry about it. I've also encountered some rooms where an open-style shower is provided, with just a low rim around the enclosure and a small shower curtain. With those it's virtually impossible to keep water off the floor (or the toilet, sink or anything else), so I don't worry about it. Travelling in Europe is always an "education" on the differences in other parts of the world. Cheers!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7827 posts

I am not quite understanding this but are some of you saying you do not know how to use a handheld shower head that is in a tub but without any enclosure? The idea is simple. Sit down in shower. Take shower head and wet down your body. Put shower head back on stand. Rub soap on your body.. then take shower head off holder and rince youself off. Other way is many people use tub as a tub, and then simply use shower head to rince off before they get out.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3205 posts

"are some of you saying you do not know how to use a handheld shower head that is in a tub but without any enclosure? " Yes! The water bounces off you and gets on the floor... Especially if I have to wash my hair.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17776 posts

@pat, I think the majority of us here know how to use a hand-held shower. The problem is more how to keep water off the floor when there's only a short glass panel instead of a full shower curtain. I assume the room is designed for that type of shower, so I tend not to worry about getting some water on the floor.

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9130 posts

It's not only in hotels that you find this. Some modern homes in Europe come equipped with "open showers", where the shower sits in a slight alcove and has no screen or curtain of any kind. I admit, I'm baffled by this arrangement as well. Call me untrendy or old-fashioned if you will, but I fail to see the benefit of water splashing all over the bathroom floor.

Posted by Ms. Jo
Frankfurt, Germany
4764 posts

You can always look at photos of the hotels you are reserving to see what the baths and showers look like. Either from their website, or look on Trip Advisor, where people post their own photos. If there is a shower problem, they will probably say something in their reviews. I guess I am not really sure what is being talked about here though, as it isn't something that I have experienced in any hotel in Europe. All of the hotels I have gone to have mostly just been showers, no tubs. My own tub and shower at home has the folding door, but my bathroom doesn't get wet. The door goes almost the length of the tub and the shower is at one end. The door needs to sit flush, on top of the tub, as it has rubber at the bottom. If it hangs over or is folded, the water will of course run out onto the floor. Husband is tall, so we adjust the height of the shower head, and he likes the "rain" feature, while I dial it to something different. This for me is the best feature, as opposed to American showers where the shower is fixed to the wall and with no hose. That drives me crazy! For times when you don't want to get your hair wet, or maybe just want to wash your feet, you just lower the shower head. You can get fully enclosed showers in hotels that aren't 5 star. Have had them at Motel One and Ibis as well as just about any other hotel I have stayed in.

Posted by Jim
Bern, Switzerland
341 posts

If there is a bath then the expectation is that you take a bath as it is consider more environmental friendly. The spray head is intended to be used to rinse you down after you've had your bath, that is why it is not fixed to the wall.... You only take a shower where a shower is provided and not bath. In such case is a shower curtain or similar enclosure is not provided then the bathroom has been designed to deal with the excess water, so don't worry about it.

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2275 posts

Jim has it exactly. The hotel obviously isn't too concerned about water getting splashed on the floor, so why should you. Just use extra towels to mop up the spillage. That is what I've always done. Generally, the floor is tiled with a separate floor drain.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7976 posts

Note the drain grill/hole in the middle of the floor.

Posted by Agnes
Alexandria, VA, USA
616 posts

I was laughing when I read this because I've flooded the bathroom of just about every country I've been in (and I grew up in Europe as a kid). The only bathroom I haven't flooded was in Iceland where the entire room was a bathroom (no enclosures at all) and the water would just go everywhere, luckily in the floor drain at the end. I think this is one of those bloopers Europeans play on us, and we fail every time...LOL

Posted by Lee
Lakewood, Colorado
11274 posts

I think back about my first visit (business) to Germany in 1987. Our Munich office put us up in a typical Germany hotel. My coworker and his wife were "offended" that the hotel shower did not have a shower curtain (although it was contained on three sides). I found out then that Germans (or Europeans) hold the shower head facing inward, at low flow, and wet themselves down, then soap themselves, then rinse in the same way they wetted themselves. This procedure was devised because they had limited hot water and that was more efficient. Today, most hotels have plenty of hot water and shower enclosures, but I guess some places stay true to tradition.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3205 posts

To the guys who say who cares if water gets all over the floor, or just mop it up with towels... I care.. I don't want water all over the floor and I don't want it all over my stuff. And I definitely don't want the extra job of having to mop it all up... :) How can a bath be more environmentally friendly than a shower? It takes a lot more water to fill a bathtub.

Posted by Edgar
Medford, OR, USA
248 posts

Some of the bathrooms in Norway do not have sills confining shower water, just a floor drain. They provide a floor squeegee to help move the water towards the drain. The more deluxe as acomodations have heated floors to evaporate the remaining liquid water. I suppose that the advantage is having the floor cleaned or at least rinsed off after every shower. The real bottom line is just live with it. You could be in a self-service mountain hut without indoor plumbing.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7827 posts

Susan yes, it does take more water to fill a tub.. so they don't fill the tub... hence my example. sit in tub. Turn on water , use hand held shower head to wet body. Turn off water. wash yourself. Turn on shower and use it as a hand held to rinse off. minimal water use I am not saying its easier then how we would wish to do it, standing properly enclosed etc.. just saying I know thats how some of my relatives have explained it to me as the way to do it. It sucks for me with long hair. Ps I usually try and book hotels that have "shower only" option as its those tub/shower combos you run into this issue with mostly.

Posted by Monte
Genesee, ID
1376 posts

Some of you would have REALLY had trouble with the computerized showers we had in several hotels in Ukraine last year. They come with no instructions although hotel staff happily explained them.

Posted by Sarah
Chicago (formerly St. Louis), IL, USA
1311 posts

Glad to hear I'm not the only traveler who has trouble with European bathroom fixtures! The handheld shower still baffles me. I understand it in theory - take a quick shower, turn it off, soap up, wash off - but how do people wash their hair? It takes me more than a few seconds to wash shampoo out of my hair, which isn't long but it is thick. I find it pretty much impossible to hold the showerhead with one hand while rinsing my hair with only my other hand. Pamela - I encountered the folding glass doors in my friend's mom's apartment in Germany. The doors had some kind of magnet in them to make them click closed, but I'd bump against them often in the shower and knock them open, thereby getting water on the floor. They basically turned the bathtub into a shower, but not without the mess it seems!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

I am laughing at the visual of all the RS well- travelled posters cursing at the stupid showers. I also was completely aghast at the mess I would make in the bathrooms...shooting water everywhere, especially when my hair was really long. I always gave the Europeans credit for being ahead on most technology, but could not figure out why they didn't follow the lead of the US when it came to showers. I haven't encountered as many of them recently, but I do remember one in Italy where the shower floor was actually raised about 3 inches (probably to add plumbing) but there was no curtain, and the drain in the floor was so small that the water ran all over the bathroom and out into the main hotel room...crazy!

Posted by Lo
Tucson
648 posts

How come no one has mentioned the tiny shower cabinets? The ones with the corner closures that always leak. The ones that are so narrow it's almost impossible to bend over to pick up the soap without bumping some part of your anatomy against one of the walls. My German apartment in the 80s had the large bathtub with the hand held shower wand. It took some getting used to but I learned how to get clean and wash my hair just fine. My husband insists on a shower head on the wall or above for our European lodgings. Often the only way I've been able guarantee that is to look at the pictures. We don't care if things get a bit wet although we aren't fond of the wet room set up. Our all time favorite bathing experience was at an old hotel in Varenna on Lake Como. The bathtub was the typical long, narrow and deep Italian tub. Attached to the middle of the wall adjacent to it was an umbrella like contraption that you pulled around to encircle yourself while using the shower. We called it the Cirque de Soleil shower. We enjoy all the shower differences when we travel, but then our shower at home has no door or curtain and the floor is made of small rounded river rock type pebbles.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3205 posts

Pat, I totally understand what you're saying.. makes sense, but that's not a relaxing, enjoyable way to bathe. In that scenario the point is just to get clean and get out.. :) About my bath question.. I was responding to what Jim said above.. "If there is a bath then the expectation is that you take a bath as it is consider more environmental friendly". Agnes, Sarah, Terry kathryn and Lo... I so relate. Have had all those experiences too. Your posts made me laugh! I am a seasoned traveler, and I love most every thing in Europe, but I'll never get used to the half glass, the no enclosure at all, the folding enclosure that comes open, the showers so small you can't pick up soap and the hand held shower head (I have one of those in my tub/shower but I have a shower curtain that works! And keeps the water inside the tub, where it belongs! Amazing, I know. Lol.). I SO agree with you Terry kathryn.. baffles me how anyone can think any of the above makes any sense.. : /

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9130 posts

Perhaps this would be an appropriate space to relate what was probably the strangest shower arrangement I've ever encountered in Europe. This was over a decade ago in Bulgaria, so I can't comment on how typical this scenerio would be now (or even then). But when I stepped into the shower-tub combo, as always, I placed a towel on the floor to step out onto when I finished bathing. I failed to notice the drain in the middle of the bathroom floor or the slight slope of said floor towards the drain. Why was this important? Because the water from the tub drained not into a pipe, but directly onto the bathroom floor and from there, down the drain that I previously overlooked. So, much to my surprise, my towel was completely soaked after I finished.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7827 posts

Definately does suck,,,its a rare thing to get a nice big shower stall that has good water pressure, a good seal , and lots of hot water.. ( at least in my hotel budget range).. I do reviews on tripadvisor.com and I always mention the bathroom set up..

Posted by Judy
Adelaide, SA, Australia
802 posts

The bath/shower arrangements and taps attched have always been a source of curiosity and some degree of frustation when travelling to the UK and Europe. When you guys mention American showers, I presume you mean the same as the majority of homes in Australia - a separate fully enclosed shower area/cubicle with a full door.

Posted by lisa
akron, ohio
98 posts

I have to say that I hate the 1/2 door showers described here! I will never understand why they have them. When traveling with my niece a few years ago, I somehow managed to figure out how to shower without watering the entire room. I had to stand in the corner farthest away from the open area, with my back to the corner and spray behind me. That was the only way I could keep most of the water out. My niece however, with her long hair and total disregard to the fact that towel supplies are quite limited, would just let the water fly wherever and then wipe up as some on this post have suggested. Every towel was soaking and didn't leave anything dry for later use. Yuck!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8755 posts

I've found on baths with the folding glass door along part of the length of the tub - which I mostly seen in Germany - there is often a trick. I get in the tub by folding the "V" into the room, then pulling the main part back centred on the edge, then swinging the end bit all the way around until it is perpendicular, or nearly so, to the wall. I find that that forms sort of a cubicle. Maybe I'm doing it wrong but it works for me.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1520 posts

One nice hotel in Paris had a shower in tub, with the half glass wall. The bottom of the tub was almost "V" shaped. Very steep walls, with the bottom only about 6" wide. I had to stand with one foot in front of the other, and that's an odd way to take a shower. I'm not sure how you'd sit in that tub.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7209 posts

The half screen you mention is used to save space. In most European bathrooms there isn't enough space to have a swinging door. I think the idea isn't to completely eliminate water getting onto the bathroom floor, just to minimize it. One way that helps quite a bit is to take the handheld shower off the holder and spray it back toward the alcove that is formed by the screen and the rest of the shower enclosure. You can also try pointing the head more down than out.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1353 posts

Pamela, i experienced those fun things on my recent trip. but ive never had a shower w/o some type of wall on one or 2 sides. but on the showers with a partial glass wall, i just didnt turn the water on full bore and i was able to adjust the head towards the long wall and towards the shower controls. I was able to minimize the water on the floor. mind you not eliminate it. happy trails.

Posted by Thomas
Snyder, Texas
503 posts

We have had that type shower door on many occasions. I make sure the gasket on the bottom of the door is on the inner part of the bathtub. I can take a shower now without getting much water outside the tub. It just takes some practice. I remember back in 1972 having a bathroom in our room in Venice. That was nice because all before this one had been down the hall. Directly over the toilet was a huge shower head mounted on the ceiling about 12 feet up and pointing straight down. The control knobs were right by the toilet. When you turned on the water, a very large amount of water fell right on the toilet. It was quite awkward and made a big mess, but my roommate and I enjoyed having a shower. Water ran under the bathroom door out into the bedroom onto the hardwood floor. For the second shower, we learned to wedge a used towel in front of the door and to put the toilet paper out in the bedroom somewhere far from the bathroom. Later in my life, my in-laws had a motor home with exactly the same set up except on a miniature scale. And the shower head would always fall down just as you needed to rinse soap out of your hair.
Bathrooms make life interesting.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

This is so great for a laugh... reading this I realized I almost forgot about the bathroom at the Holiday Inn that I stayed at with my 16 year old grandson in Paris a few years ago. The bathroom was enormous with a beautiful hi-tech sink, a full bathtub, glass shower doors and lots of plush towels... the oddity was that there was a huge window right on the wall by the bathtub that went right into the main part of the room! We were laughing so hard when we saw this. There happened to be a shade on the bedroom side of the window...so we pulled it down,but it was translucent. What were they thinking??? I thought it might be a honeymoon suite :) but after calling the front desk and explaining the weird situation we were told all the rooms were that way. Thankfully I had a fleece sleeping bag with me so I took it and hung it over the translucent curtain so we could have some bathroom privacy. I don't care who I am traveling with I would prefer my privacy in the bathroom...I wonder what the maid thought when she came in and saw our innovative curtain.

Posted by Warren
Castlegar, BC, Canada
173 posts

I having a blast reading this post. Just finished a bunch of work related trips here in Canada, and managed to flood the bathroom every day except one, once only using the coffee maker.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2899 posts

Tom described perfectly the bathroom that I lived with for 2 years in Stockholm. There was a drain in the middle of the floor. The bathtub just drained right onto the floor towards the drain. The only problem was that the floor was not perfectly sloped, so every morning after my shower I had to squeegee water down the drain. I still remember being in a bathroom in Italy in the 80s where the shower just came out of the wall, the drain was in the middle of the floor, and there was no curtain at all. The first day, turned off the shower and then noticed that the roll of toilet paper completely sopping wet. After that, learned to put the toilet paper outside of the bathroom when showering.

Posted by Andrea
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
435 posts

It goes both ways -our Polish friends were astounded by our shower-over-bath with a vinyl curtain!

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3311 posts

I have to admit that I'm a bit intrigued that everyone is so wound up about this albeit in a humorous fashion. I've run into these showers many times in UK B&B's and just not worried about it. I just made sure that my stuff was stashed somewhere dry and took my shower. I figured it was their problem if water got on the floor. But maybe that was just my clueless obliviousness trait that seems to pop up now and then. PAm

Posted by Sam
Green Bay
2275 posts

@ Pamela NYC. My sister's first apartment in the 70's on the Lower East side was an old 5 floor tenement building. It went up before the advent of indoor plumbing or at best, one toilet to serve all the apartments on the entire floor. It was retrofitted a few decades later so each apartment had its own toilet and bath tub. In her unit, they put the toilet in the broom closet (and took out the brooms, no more room) and the bath tub was in the kitchen. It was one of those old cast iron claw foot numbers, with a single pipe sticking up in the air with a shower head and a ring for the shower curtain. It stood in front of the kitchen window next to the stove. Talk about "Cirque du Shower".

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Why is this such an issue for people? The first time I ran into something like this was in a nice boutique hotel in Paris...tub had no shower curtain, shower door, etc. but did have a shower head/hose combo. I did my best to keep the bathroom from getting soaked, but no dice. Still, I really didn't care. If the hotel doesn't care, why should I? Later, I started traveling in Asia, where there's just a shower head somewhere in the bathroom on a wall and a drain somewhere in the floor. Everything takes a shower...that's the way regular people live. Seriously, it's no big deal.

Posted by Pamela
New York City, NY, USA
3311 posts

SAm, that's a hoot. I have a lovely 1 bedroom apartment near the Queensboro Bridge. I was recently complaining that my bathroom is a late 1980's/ early 1990's special--gold fixtures and counter to ceiling mirrors on two walls. I will now think about the broom closet and be happy. Back to travel, there are always the hotel rooms that may not have a toilet, but do have a sink and sometimes even an in room shower at the end of the bed. Pam

Posted by Fred
San Francisco
2695 posts

My first time encountering a shower with no curtain or door and a toilet and wash basin all in the same room was in London at a B&B at Kings Cross. It baffled me at first since you could see that the entire room floor would become wet, and it did. The hotel where I stay at Gare du Nord remodeled their en suite rooms using this type of shower set up and also hand held. What we call the "bathroom" was larger than what I had in London. I had read a review of this Gare du Nord hotel in booking.com, the reviewer didn't like the showere set up at all, said the whole floor was wet at the end. True. He was right on that. It all depends if that bothers you or not, not me. I don't care if the floor is all wet after I'm done, but I did notice that within 15-20 mins or so, more than half of the wet floor had dried. Closing the door and leaving the lights on helped.

Posted by Pamela
Honolulu, Hawaii
3 posts

Thank you, everyone for your informative and sometimes hilarious replies...and here I thought I was the only one stumped by that contraption! James, you were right; the question seems to have triggered memories of all kinds of encounters with The Shower from H*ll. Susan, I agree with you that washing our hair using the hand held spray is a pain. Ray and Lisa, I'm going to try your ideas on my next trip, but just in case, I'll pack a floor mop, too. :0) I enjoy traveling because it's always an adventure. I guess I should remember that part of the fun of traveling is learning how people in other countries live and just going with the flow. Pamela

Posted by Lo
Tucson
648 posts

I think any newbie traveler should watch a few episodes of HGTV Househunters International to prepare for their trip. Bathrooms around the world are often the biggest surprise to the people seeking a place to live, especially to those who are more used to American/Canadian/Australian sizes and designs.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3205 posts

So true Lo! Sometimes their reaction is the funniest part of the show..

Posted by Brian
Silverdale, WA
43 posts

Since were on the topic of bathrooms... Something that baffled me is many (older) toilet bowls in Germany have the water pool at the front, and a "shelf" at the back. I would see these in many pensions which are not ultra modern by nature. A fellow American living in Germany had this in his rental house and said his family referred to it as a "display case sh**tter," which was quite funny and very accurate. He told me that the design was intended as a sort of personal health check back in the day. Those do seem to be getting phased out, but in the meantime...it's kind of nasty. FYI - I've had many a soggy floor as well from taking a shower with a partial...or non-existent...tub enclosure.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

I actually haven't experienced those in Germany, but I have in Austria. It's pretty nasty...I would really prefer my waste be much further from me than the "shelf" once it leaves my body. It's hard to square the enlightened refinement of Vienna with such an unrefined piece of porcelain. Then again, it's better than the hole in the floor at that Shell station near Passau or the hole in the floor at Milano Centrale.

Posted by Lo
Tucson
648 posts

My apartment in the 80s in Germany had one of those toilets. The 1912 building had survived the war(s). I was told it was a water-saving method, devised long before water-saving toilets. Oh, and the toilet itself was on a platform about 4"-6" above the floor. It was in a separate room two doors (kitchen and dining room) down the hall from the bath tub (the one with the shower wand, but no stand up shower) and bath sink. There was a tiny sink in the toilet room. There was also a small window above the toilet. I was on the top floor and the window went onto the slanted roof. Pigeons liked to roost right outside that window and when I opened the window, I usually got a little flurry of pigeon feathers in the toilet room. Fun, eh?

Posted by Beatrix
Calgary
1974 posts

Well, if you are asked to bring a stool sample to the doctor's office, you might appreciate the shelf-style toilet ;-)

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1353 posts

i had a chance to use one of those shelf style toilets on my recent trip. sort of puts a twist on things... the word that comes to mind is..."courtesy flush" happy trails.

Posted by Elaine
Mission Viejo, Calif., USA
783 posts

My husband and I have also experienced many very strange and sometimes dangerous bathtub/shower experiences. We have had them in Europe and even recently in Australia. One of the greatest shockers though was in Montreal, at a very nice hotel. There actually was a double electrical outlet on the bathtub/shower wall. Yes an outlet in the shower. Beyond weird and most certainly dangerous.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
611 posts

We are heading to Costa Rica next month and I hear suicide showers (electric outlet above/next to the shower hear) are common place. If I survive I've provide a descriptive update.

Posted by Mark
Fairfield, CA
6 posts

OK folks, get a grip and embrace these nuances. 'Viva la differance' as some put it. But HERE"S something to be concerned about: have you seen the photos of the bathrooms in Sochi, Rus. with NO partitions between fixtures? Both men's and women's, some with as many as 5 toilets in an open room. And they're worried about the spread of homosexuality, what's wrong with this picture?