Let’s talk about the bathroom (aka toilet, restroom, loo, WC, water closet, crapper, or washroom) here in NL. Whatever word you use, Dutch bathrooms are different from the ones back home in the USA. This was quite surprising to me as the Netherlands is a developed country in western Europe, so I didn’t think there would be much difference or much to say with regard to the Dutch bathrooms. Well, I was certainly in for a shock upon my arrival because Dutch bathrooms are unique in a few interesting, awkward, and not-so-obvious ways!
1. The toilet is often in its own room in the flat, i.e. it is not connected to the shower, the full (large) sink, or tub. While this is inherently not unique, it is often odd where the toilet room is located. In my flat it is right off the common space, which in our case means the toilet room is right next to the dining table. This is not at all awkward when you have to go #2 and your flatmates are outside eating supper! In the other flat I stayed, the toilet room was in a long hallway between the kitchen and the living space. In any case, the toilet room is kinda like going to the bathroom in a box because it is super small with only a toilet and usually a tiny sink (see #2).
Toilet room in my flat_________________Toilet room door to the left
2. The sink in the toilet room is often super tiny and it only has cold freaking water from the tap. Let me repeat that…only ice cold water flows from the tap in the toilet room. No I can’t wait for the water to warm up because there is only 1 handle on the sink and it is blue, for cold ass water for washing your hands. Mind you, it is winter right now in NL and when only ice cold water flows from the tap, handwashing becomes a chore. This is still the most surprising and annoying Dutch bathroom culture thing that I cannot get over. Everytime I come out of the toilet, I cringe and wash my hands in a completely non-public health manner which involves me passing my hands so quickly under the water to rinse the soap off that the total time of exposure to the water is limited to approximately 3 seconds, maybe. With that cold water there is absolutely no way I am washing my hands for the full 30 seconds to ensure I am germ free. Public health microbiology be damned, that water is too bloody cold.
3. Dutch toilets are even unique in that they have an inspection shelf in the bowl. I plan to go into this in more detail in my next post because, frankly, any toilet that has a shelf in the bowl so you can look at your poop following a bowel movement deserves discussion. For right now, I will just say when you go to the toilet nothing falls down into the water below like in a US toilet instead it falls on a shelf right below your butt. This is not a joke and it is not a lie. I have a Dutch toilet in my flat. UPDATE: Post on Dutch toilets is here.
4. The toilet has its own room and often the shower does too. In my flat, the shower is actually located directly off a hallway and is just what it sounds like, a shower room. In other configurations, I have seen a shower room directly off the kitchen, but I have also seen proper (according to my very spoiled American ways) half baths where the shower, tub, and sink are located in another room. Our shower is also extra odd in that the washer and dryer is located behind the shower room, so the shower curtain is on the backside to protect the W/D from getting wet as opposed to protecting the bathroom from getting wet.
5. Public restrooms often charge for use. This means at the train station, at shops, and sometimes even at food & drink establishments where you have been a patron. Grrr. If I paid to have food or drink at your establishment, you should let me use the restroom for free!
6. Toilet rooms often contain both a calendar and air freshner, the latter due to the fact that there is no ventilation in the bathroom and no windows.