Pooping In Public, The Newest Hotel Trend

open plan bathroom hotel
Bentley Smith, Flickr

They say traveling together will either bring you closer together or destroy your relationship, and the latest hotel design movement is certainly putting that concept to the test.

According to The Guardian, open-plan bathrooms are a growing trend in luxury hotels. Instead of hiding in a separate room, showers, baths and even toilets are now being placed right inside the bedroom. Occasionally, you’ll find walls separating the wet areas from the bedroom — although see-through glass does little to shield you from the eyes of your travel companion.A few hotels that have embraced this concept include the Lloyd Hotel in Amsterdam, the Renaissance Beijing Capital Hotel and the Ecclestone Square Hotel in London (though at least here you can flip a switch to turn the glass walls opaque).

While some couples might get a kick out of the less-than-private baths or showers, the placement of the toilet leaves a lot to be desired. After all, no matter how close you are with your partner, do you really want to be in on each other’s bowel movements? And what exactly do you do if you’re traveling with a relative, friend or business partner?

Making matters worse is the fact that some of these open-plan bathrooms are not just “open” to your roommate, but also to the public. At The Standard Hotel in New York, one suite features a floor-to-ceiling glass wall in the bathroom that faces out onto the street. And yes, people are watching. One hotel specialist told The Guardian that while staying at a different hotel in New York with a glass wall that faced the outside, she “could see a guy standing in a building looking at me having a shower.” Creepy or what?

Would you stay in a hotel with an open plan bathroom?

Experts Agree: Squat Toilets Are Good For You

squat toilets
Sean McLachlan

Chances are your morning glory isn’t good for you.

In the Western world we’re second place when it comes to doing Number Two. A growing number of medical experts agree that our seat toilets aren’t nearly as good as squat toilets, which are what’s used on the majority of places in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America.

It all comes down to positioning.

The medical textbook Gastroenterology, the definitive reference to the subject and written by three MDs, states, “The ideal posture for defecation is the squatting position, with the thighs flexed upon the abdomen. In this way the capacity of the abdominal cavity is greatly diminished and intra-abdominal pressure increased, thus encouraging expulsion …”

In plain English, squatting releases pressure on your rectum and makes it easier to poop. Sitting in a Western style toilet is means you’re pushing against your own muscles. Many doctors say that using squat toilets reduce the chances of constipation, hemorrhoids, even bowel cancer.
Neuroscientist Daniel Lametti writes that wile there haven’t been any smoking gun statistics for cancer, it makes intuitive sense that people would be less constipated if they squat and less likely to put strain on their anus that would cause hemorrhoids.

Having spent a great deal of time in countries where squat toilets were the only option, I can testify that squatting is easier on the bum, if not the thighs. You get through your business quicker, and it does feel easier and more natural. It’s how we’re built, after all. Interested in learning more? Check out this article on how to use squat toilets.

Canadian Hotel Rooms Test High For Bacteria, Investigation Shows

Oh, Canada. You’ve got national healthcare and spectacular scenery, but your hotel rooms … those need work.

According to a recent CBC Marketplace investigation conducted by a microbiologist, six diverse chain hotels ranging from budget to high-end had, “high levels of contamination creating potentially hazardous conditions for guests.”

Marketplace apparently surveyed thousands of “high-touch” spots in 54 rooms, using a “an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) measuring device that determines microbial contamination on surfaces.”

The filthiest items likely won’t come as a surprise to frequent travelers: bed comforters, bathroom faucets, and remote controls took top honors for bacterial counts. Microbiologist Keith Warriner of Guelph University, who conducted the investigation, warns that hotel bacteria is a greater health risk to guests, because the germs come from literally thousands of different bodies. In the case of bedding, we’re exposed to those nasties for a longer period of time.

If money is tight, you’ll be happy to know that ubiquitous cheapie Super 8 had some of the cleanest bathrooms, while luxury hotels often had poor results. The big picture is that just because a room looks clean, doesn’t mean it is. Blame overworked (and likely underpaid) hotel staff, who often don’t have adequate time to deep-clean all of the required rooms on their shifts.

Here’s a tip: Bring your own pillowcase, fold down the comforter, and make friends with a bottle of Purell when staying in a hotel or motel. Otherwise, just look at it as an immune system-building holiday.

[Photo credit: flickr user adrigu]

Five toilet paper alternatives for the road (or if you live in New Jersey)

toilet paper

Trenton, New Jersey, has a serious problem. The city government is in a fight with their paper goods supplier over prices and the city’s buildings are in danger of running out of toilet paper. What can they do for their voters in need? Installing bidets would be more expensive than simply paying the high cost the government contractor is demanding. Luckily, there are some other alternatives used in foreign lands that can help keep New Jersey clean. They can also help you out if you’re caught short while on the road.

Left hand
This is the most popular cleaning method around the world. You wipe your butt with your left hand (reserving the right for eating) and then wash your hand. It’s easier on your tender parts than scraping it with paper, and it’s guaranteed to stop you from biting your nails. While this makes sense hygienically and environmentally, for me it’s one of those five local customs I just can’t follow.

Newspaper
Newspapers offer an abundant supply of paper that can be cut up and stored in the bathroom. It’s a bit scratchy, but I can attest to it working just as well as toilet paper. When I was working in Bulgaria in the poverty-stricken early 90s, most Bulgarians didn’t want to spend extra money on toilet paper when they already had a newspaper. It was common practice to cut out photos of unpopular politicians to give them special treatment.Leaves
Another scratchy, yet environmentally sensitive, option favored by campers who don’t want to portage out their dirty paper. Make sure to pick large, relatively green leaves. You don’t want dry, brittle leaves that break while you’re wiping. That will leave you using the hand option whether you want to or not. Learn what poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac look like before you try this.

Snowballs
If you like snow camping, you’re probably already familiar with this one. Make a compact snowball somewhat smaller than the palm of your hand. It’s best to make it oval in shape with a ridge to provide easy access into your crack. Like with leaves, this is better than bagging up dirty toilet paper and carrying it with you until you reach civilization.

Sponge on a stick
This was a method used by the ancient Romans. A sponge is absorbent and soft, making it a perfect material for cleaning your nether regions. The Romans washed their sponges with vinegar and reused them. Check out the photo below from the ancient latrine at Housesteads Roman Fort to see how it was done.

If these five alternatives don’t appeal to you, you can always do…

Nothing
The father of a friend of mine didn’t use anything to clean his backside. How this man ever got a wife I’ll never know. The poor woman cleaned his skivvies in a bucket rather than put them in the washing machine with the other clothes. Yes, he smelled. Get a sponge on a stick or some leaves and clean yourself!

toilet paper, Housesteads

Airline Madness: Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances

gadling airline madness

It’s that time of year again! All around the country, people are filling out their brackets and arguing over match-ups. That’s right; it’s March Madness Airline Madness! Just like last year’s Hotel Madness, we’ve compiled a list of travel pet peeves. Only this time around the competition is for the title of Worst Airline Annoyance. Our selection committee vetted the pool of candidates and chose the 16 worst offenders. Now it’s time for you to vote. Over the next two days, all of the first round match-ups will be posted here on Gadling for you to weigh in. The winners will advance to the second round, then the Final Four and so on until we crown an Airline Madness champion.It’s going to be an exciting few weeks of debates, arguments and rants about cry babies, overhead space and baggage fees. We know you’ll have some opinions to share and we hope that you’ll speak up in the comments.

Below is a list of our first round match-ups that will be up for voting later today for the first four match-ups of the first round. The second half of the first round will be open for voting tomorrow, so keep checking back for all of the action! [Update: The first round has ended and voting is closed.]


#2 Legroom vs. #15 Inefficient boarding procedures



#3 Lack of free food/prices for food vs. #14 Cold cabin/no blankets


#4 Baggage fees vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats


#5 Lack of overhead space vs. #12 Inattentive parents of crying babies


#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #11 Lack of personal entertainment/charging for entertainment


#7 Rude airline staff vs. #10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing


#8 People who recline their seats vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats

Welcome to Airline Madness! It’s up to you to pick the champion (because everything’s amazing and nobody’s happy)!

Catch up on all the Airline Madness here.