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Terrific Tea and Wild Toilets!

Updated on February 20, 2016
Teapixie LM profile image

Tea Pixie writes her way around the world while drinking tea, eating scones, and finding inspirational images. I. Love. Travel.

Ever Wondered About The Toilets?

I travel the world drinking tea, which means I visit toilets in amazing places. The range of loos that can be found is remarkable and there are definitely some that I will never return to.

Have you heard the crazy story about the boy who got sick because he kissed a dirty toilet seat!?! That has to be an urban legend - who in the world would kiss a toilet seat, dirty or not? Sure, we'll repeat a silly story like that but we don't seem to talk about the issue of dirty restrooms/toilets/washrooms/bathrooms/WC's in public, but in private it can change our perspective about visiting a food or drink business, even if the tea/coffee/food is exceptional. Heck, it can turn me off of visiting a friend! Now, don't get me wrong - I couldn't care less about a bathroom being tidy, but dirty? YUCK!

When it comes to a business where we spend our money and in exchange expect to be served a delicious and health maintaining meal or drink, we expect delivery on the unstated promise. The state of the loo suggests to me the state of a business's kitchen, and when a bathroom is really bad, that can be a FRIGHTENING connection!

All Photos and Writing are Copyright by ME - Teapixie! :)

Full Service Establishment - Lovely Biffy

On the train from Mombasa, Kenya to Nairobi, I was delighted to sit in the dinning car and drink tea. Of course, a pot of tea led to the need for a washroom. "It's an experience you'll never forget," said my partner. With my hands braced on opposite walls of the "choo" (Swahili for toilet) I braced myself to squat over a hole in the floor of the train. With muscles tense, I looked down through that hole in the floor and watched the train tracks swoosh past as I did my business. I carried wipes on that trip; I did not touch anything in that car - and there was no toilet paper. It was the dirtiest restroom I have ever been in. And yet, this simple version of a toilet allowed for basic of necessities.

Can a hole in the floor of a train car still be called a toilet if there is no plumbing involved, not even the need to dig a pit? Unfortunately, when the train broke down or was way-laid, everyone still had to use that choo to relieve themselves. You can imagine the picture that was created if you looked down into the hole. Or worse, had to cross the tracks after a stopped train pulled away. Bleah!

I find the need for a toilet always outweighs my reaction to the quality of facilities provided, but when it comes to buying a cup of tea away from home, I will avoid an establishment if I know that it has a disgusting loo. On the other hand, I will celebrate and promote enthusiastically the tearooms and cafes that recognize the characteristics of a full service establishment.

Many years ago a very good friend recommended I discover elevated tea drinking and then introduced me to this little tearoom where the bathroom was clean, the walls were covered in hand-painted blackberry bushes and then decorated with beautiful hats. Every woman who went for tea at that little shop didn't leave before visiting the restroom and each visit required an accounting of the hats, "Is there a new one?" each of us would ask the first to go in.

Since that time I have hunted for what I will call, experience washrooms. In one case I found a quaint and well kept WC with delicately hand-painted ivy covering the walls and in another there were granite counters, waterfall faucets, hand cream, and an abundant supply of towels. Of course there are always the amazing experience washrooms: automated everything, fresh towels being handed to you, disposable supplies for refreshing your makeup, marble floors and complimentary lighting. I've been known to visit all of the most amazing hotels in London, just to use their ladies' rooms.

To all tea serving establishments: make a commitment to your loyal tea-drinking clientele by creating inspiring, inviting, clean, and memorable WCs. It doesn't have to be marble floors or granite counters, but even washing the walls or refreshing the paint, and regular hourly visits, to make sure the room is clean, would be nice. Yes, of course a resentment can build on the part of proprietors who hate cleaning up after sloppy tea guzzlers who miss the toilet or drop toilet paper everywhere, but it doesn't build your business to ignore this necessary part of doing business.

What Is YOUR Opinion?

Dirty restrooms? You've been in at least one and you probably had an opinion about it that is worth sharing - without profanity! Take this poll and let proprietors know how you feel - maybe it will inspire them to make those bathrooms a priority.

Yes - it might seem trite to comment on this topic, but your comments and opinions really can make a difference in the minds of proprietors. Of course, one way or another you will pay for the quality of service provided, but isn't it worth it?

Will you revisit a tearoom or cafe if you discover their restrooms are dirty and neglected?

See results

To Know About Toilets

Lavatory Reading Material

Experts Tip Toe Around Dirty Kitchens

Take a look at what Dr. Oz and Chef, Richard Blais of Top Chef All-Stars have to say about kitchens.

What About The Kitchen?

When you encounter a dirty or neglected restroom, do you question the state of the establishment's kitchen?

See results

What Can Restaurants/Cafes/Bars Do?

So, what could a proprietor do to make their restrooms more inviting?

1. Set up a cleaning schedule - have people's names attached to a schedule on the door of the restroom. The schedule should show what time the restrooms are to be cleaned (at least 3 times a day) with information to contact a specific person, should someone be irresponsible and leave the restrooms in a state that needs to be cleaned. And cleaning means making sure everything sparkles, there is no water, toilet paper, or dirt on the floor, that toilet paper and hand towels are well stocked, that plumbing works, that mirrors and walls and floors are clean. There is nothing to leave out. Nothing!

2. Maintain the plumbing. Taps should not leak, toilets should not over flow or leak. Sinks should not be plugged. The people who clean the restrooms should be responsible for requesting maintenance. And all fixtures should be tested once per month.

3. Paint. Don't let your business get run down . It takes a little TLC and very little money to apply a new coat of paint in your bathrooms and in your serving area. And while you are at it, look at your kitchen. What kind of state is it in? It really does matter.

4. Be creative. Consider kooky artwork, message boards, or unique items that change regularly. You are creating an experience - people will come back to find out what kind of attention you have paid to this environment, recently.

5. Consider plus-quality services. Restrooms with quiet music, inviting, warm colours, hand cream from pump dispensers, and mirrors with lighting that makes customers look good will enhance the environment of your business.

Even if you have a small budget, paying a little attention to your restrooms will pay off in the quality of your customer's experience, loyalty, and desire to spend in your business.

Can't Eat

We had a great all day adventure around our city with a friend who lives miles away in a tiny place with few restaurants. One of the fantastic benefits of living in this city is the wide variety of cuisines from around the world. We decided on lunch in a Vietnamese restaurant - ohh those yummy Pho'a soups - tea in an award winning pot sticker restaurant (Chinese) - and we were capping our eat-a-thon off with sushi (Japanese).

Whenever our friend comes to town we walk everywhere, including out for meals, and it is imperative that we have sushi. Until now, we didn't have a favourite restaurant for sushi so would hunt around the city, looking for a place that would inspire us. Today, we did the same thing and were very excited to find an "All you can eat" sushi restaurant that we had never tried.

After all of that walking, I had to visit the restrooms before ordering my meal. Although I was famished, I was more in need of a toilet than a menu. The state of the restaurant bathroom was horrifying. The floors, walls, and stall doors were smeared with dirt (not just one stall and "dirt" is a diplomatic word). The mirrors and sinks were dirty. The toilets hadn't been flushed (ever?). There was toilet paper stuffed into corners, doors were broken, the mirrors were broken, tiles were falling off the walls, and the plumbing was broken; taps were running incessantly.

Looking at the outside and in the serving area of the restaurant, no one would guess the overwhelming filth of the bathrooms.

When I returned to the table with my friends, I looked at the menu and was not inspired. I couldn't think past the repulsion of the restrooms. I didn't order any food and watched in horror as my friends ordered and ate food. I was so frightened that they would get sick. Unfortunately, all I could see were the dirt spots on the floors or the wear of the plates. I realized I was getting weird, looking skeptically at the plates as if they were covered in dirt. I have had food poisoning and I am not interested in ever getting it again.

I will never, ever go back to that restaurant. We now have a 'go-to' sushi restaurant. I promote the restaurant I love and I warn people off, vehemently, the restaurant that let their restrooms become such a disaster.


Are you a proprietor of a tearoom or cafe? Or are you a customer? Tell us about your "full service" experiences, or what it's like to be on the other side, as a proprietor who has to take care of slobby patrons. We're listening!

Tell us about your experiences

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    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      @LauraHofman: Yes. I will work on that photo gallery. My daughter thinks I'm crazy when I take photos of bathrooms! %-D

      I'm glad you enjoyed the read.

    • LauraHofman profile image

      Laura Hofman 4 years ago from Naperville, IL

      Great idea for a lens! I've certainly visited a wide variety of bathrooms. The best are of course clean, feature attractive & whimsical décor, and include pleasant & hospitable touches like complimentary handcream and other beauty aids for a quick touch up. I agree with Transplanted Soul - a photo gallery would be fun to view. ; )

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      @TransplantedSoul: Yes - that would be very interesting. Now to get up the courage to drag my camera into the restrooms! Sadly, it would mean returning to some of them. yuck :( Perhaps that's a "start now" kind of thing where I just starting shooting the good and the bad!

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 4 years ago

      It'd be great to have a photo gallery highlighting the winners and losers!

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      @chezchazz: Glad you enjoyed it! I'm sure, in the world of interior decorating, you have lots to say on this topic. ;)

    • chezchazz profile image

      Chazz 4 years ago from New York

      Quite an entertaining (and informative) lens.

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      @Elyn MacInnis: Thank you Elynmac! I'm glad you enjoyed reading it. I know what it is like to "make do" with whatever the environment is that you are handed, it's just nice when you don't have to. Thank you so much for the Blessings.

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

      I love tea. Any kind with caffeine. If the tea is good, I am happy, and phooey on the restrooms! This is a great topic. What a fun lens... Blessings to you.

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      @Elsie Hagley: Yes, funny. We don't talk about it, but a dirty bathroom has an enormous impact on visitors. When I was a kid, my job in the house was to clean the bathroom every Saturday morning. I became kookoo about making it shine. Thank you so much for the blessing and the like!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 4 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice lens on a subject that is not discussed very often, good on you. It is worthy of a blessing. Blessed you deserve it.

    • hartworks lm profile image

      hartworks lm 4 years ago

      I've traveled in parts of the world where the bathrooms are really bad news, but when I was a kid my stepmom taught me how to do the whole thing with a minimum of suffering. Has come in handy.

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @LiteraryMind: Oh yes - people can tell the difference. I must say, though, that I travel through the US, often (am just heading out on a 5 week cross-country adventure next week) and I seem to find the most amazing little mouse-hole tea and coffee shops that are full of fun and unexpected treasures.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      We don't have that many tea rooms in the US. But I think most people can tell the difference between and inadequately maintained restroom and one that has been thoroughly cleaned but a recent patron has desecrated.

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @MJsConsignments: HAHAHAHA - I can honestly say I've done the same myself in the past. There is this particular one that has a fountain faucet - amazing! Thank you for the praise. :)

    • MJsConsignments profile image

      Michelle 5 years ago from Central Ohio, USA

      Interesting lens. I came for the tea but I stayed for the toilets. Great job!

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @ismeedee: What a super cool idea! We could promote it here! I've been careful not to mention shop names, do you think that would be an issue in your book? I wonder if places would like to known for their toilets?

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @JoshK47: Thanks JoshK47. "intriguing" is a great descriptor - LOL!!!

    • ismeedee profile image

      ismeedee 5 years ago

      I'm not a photographer but when I was in America last time I visited a local restaurant that had a really lovely bathroom. I got the idea I'd love to photograph public toilets all over the world and compile them into a book. I think it would be pretty interesting!

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      JoshK47 5 years ago

      Quite an intriguing idea for a lens! Thanks for sharing!

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @CruiseReady: Thank you!

    • CruiseReady profile image

      CruiseReady 5 years ago from East Central Florida

      What an interesting page... and a very unique slant on visiting tea rooms ... and their tee rooms.

    • sudokunut profile image

      Mark Falco 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

      Umm, honestly I 'hold it' until I can get home. I hate public restrooms in all their forms. Yuck.

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      Have to admit I was lured in by the title. Interesting.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 5 years ago from UK

      An in-tea-resting subject. In our neck of the woods, restaurants can take part in various competitions to be judged on best facilities. A particularly good Thai restaurant down the road from us always wins the best loo award. Luckily the rest of the facilitites are comparable.

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @dc64 lm: Oh yes, dc64! It is definitely horrifying to take a child to use the toilet and find out it's a bacterial nightmare and your toilet paper idea is worth remembering, whether your tall or small! That does make me think of another toilet story - taking a just-potty-trained child on an airplane. Holy-smoke-aronies was that ever a frightening experience for my little one who feared that she would get sucked down the vacuumed-toilet. I learned to never, ever flush the toilet while she was in the little cubicle. And the pressurized state of those little rooms doesn't help with easing the little ones, either!

    • dc64 lm profile image

      dc64 lm 5 years ago

      There have definitely been places I have refused to visit again because of the restrooms. I particularly hated it when my child had to go, and couldn't 'hover over the toilet', but had to sit on it. I would load the seat up with toilet paper to try to protect her from all manner of vileness.