Readers who have been following this blog, or who have read some of our restaurant reviews, will have noticed a peculiarity that we try to include in our restaurant reviews. We post pics of the food, the interior, we write about how we were welcomed, the service, and the atmosphere, and …. we also try to include a photo of the smallest room of the restaurant. Well, mostly the toilet or restroom is the smallest room of the restaurant, although we have also encountered some where you could almost park a car 😉
‘Why are there photos of toilets in some of your restaurant reviews?’
A restaurant experience is formed by many things. First, and foremost, the food of course, but there are many other factors that shape our impression: comfort, tidyness, service, attitude, location, accessibility, choice of vegan options, presence of non-vegan items, etc. And yes, also the state of the toilets or restrooms.
Hygiene is of course important in a setting that serves food to clients. How clean a toilet is (or not) might be an indicator of the overall attention to hygiene elsewhere in restaurant. Although we do of course realise that careless and dirty guests can make a mess of the toilet and ruin it for others, and our visit on that timeslot can give a distorted impression. But mostly, the overall cleanliness or tidyness of the toilet environment can reveal a lot and one can truly see (and often also smell) a difference between a toilet that is cleaned thoroughly on a regular basis, or one that just gets a superficial swipe (sorry for the pun 😉 ) every now and then.
Other things that also determine the overall impression of toilets are what is available to dry one’s hands and whether that is clean (one big towel – is it changed on a regular basis? individual towels, paper towels), or whether it is working properly (rotating cotton towel, air dryer …). I think air dryers are a good invention, but one that hardly blows any (warm) air and with which it takes just a long to dry one’s hand as if you would just hold them up in the air, is totally useless. And also the tap (sometimes there’s hardly any water coming out!), the availability of toilet paper, the bin, the doors and walls (are the toilets just open air cubicles or real ‘restrooms’?), the interior and decoration (which is of course mainly personal taste, but some nice tiles, a lovely mirror or frames are always nice), the soap (bonus points for vegan soap! although that seems a rarity, even in vegan friendly restaurants), the lock at the door, the toilet ‘brush’, etc.
Another aspect is the accessibility of the toilets. Are they on ground level? Does one need to take any steps to reach them? Are they wheelchair accessible?
As I have mobility issues, and also sometimes use a wheelchair, it is one of the aspects that we increasingly are paying attention to when visiting a restaurant. Regarding this aspect, we were pleasantly surprised to see that most of the restaurants (and even bars) that we have visited on our recent trip to Barcelona, had wheelchair accessible toilets. It is unfortunately still a rarity in Belgium.
So since the Fall of 2015, we also try to take a photo of the toilets and include that in the restaurant review, with a very short description. We do not go into detail in every restaurant review and write about all the above mentioned points (the toilets are afterall just one of the many aspects that shape our impression) but with this posts you get an idea of some of the aspects that we pay attention to.
Fortunately, nearly all toilets were clean and tidy. Some were a bit shabby and could use some renovation. Luckily, it was only on a handful of occasions that the toilets were clearly not properly maintained on a regular basis, and not only looked dirty but also smelled bad.
A couple of the nicest toilets that we have encountered (and have documented on photo):
Zukini (Ghent). Unfortunately closed now. One of the cutest posters 😉 Very clean. Everything seemed newly renovated.
Lof in Ghent. Very clean, spacious. Although downstairs (but accessible with lift) and a long way away from the restaurant room.
Tian in Vienna. The photo does not do it justice, but this water bassin was extraordinary! Beautiful design, with lights in the washing bassin. Oh, and everything was clean too!
Nice doorsign at Taste, Louvain (review of Taste will follow).
Noordoever, Louvain. Nice door signs to indicate the gents and ladies.
De Plaats, Bruges. Nice posters at the doors, to indicate the ladies and gents (steep stairs to 1st floor to get there though).
Zarza, Louvain. Nice decor, inscriptions on the doors were written in reflection (reading it in the mirror). Individual towels, nice water bassin.
Here are some more pics, from toilets in restaurants, that we have visited the last couple of years:
Some more general information about our restaurant reviews, and answers to FAQ can be found here: A word or two about restaurant reviews