Rant: Open/Exposed Hotel Bathrooms Create Awkward Situations

When I travel, 9/10 times I will split a hotel room with friends, family members, or other traveling companions to keep the costs at a minimum. Typically when traveling with 2-3 friends, we book a room with two beds, and request a roll-away bed or a pull-out couch if it’s available so that everyone has their own space to sleep comfortably. This technique has worked for me perfectly 100% of the time for more than decade… until hotels decided to modernize (which I’m all for) and integrate open and/or exposed bathrooms into the rooms.

I agree that given the appropriate circumstances, an open bathroom can be both sexy and intriguing, but if I am sharing a room with someone I am not romantically-involved with, it’s just plain awkward.

In the last few months alone, there were 4 instances of this happening:

  1. On a recent trip with some girlfriends, we stayed at the Conrad San Juan and were given a great room. The only pitfall was that there was no bathroom door, and the shower was right smack in the middle with all-around glass. Sure it was “sexy”, but not very practical when 4 girls were scrambling to get ready each day. It was awkward seeing my friends shower while I was applying makeup at the bathroom sink – but we made do.
  2. Another instance was when a friend of mine and I were working a really long 16-hour day in the Boston area. After we were finished working, we checked into a nearby aloft where we discovered that one shower wall exposed to the bedroom in a steamy silhouette manner; I was exhausted and all I wanted was to sleep, but I felt it was necessary to leave the room while my friend showered so he could have privacy. Again, not practical for non-romantically involved parties.
  3. A third instance was at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. I was there recently for a BlogWorld conference and opted to share a room with someone. There were two beds, and all was good until I saw that the shower had a full open window looking into the bedroom. It wasn’t even coated to look cloudy; the window was clear as day. To fix that situation, I ended up having to block the window entirely with various objects to ensure privacy.
  4. Finally, a fourth instance was actually very recent. I am heading back home from Tel Aviv tonight after an awesome time exploring the country with my friend Jamison. During our last night on the trip together, we had a great re-modeled room at the Park Plaza Orchid Hotel. Our room also had a very large 42″ “window” connecting the bathroom to main part of the room. Neither of us took showers that evening.
Yes, I know there’s probably some knucklehead out there reading this and thinking something along the lines of, “well, if you want to avoid these scenarios, then just book your own room”. Yes, you’re correct… but if I wasn’t such a bargainista, then I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog. ;)
The moral of the story is: when two beds are booked, chances are that sexytime isn’t on the agenda, so there’s really no need to try to seduce guests with an inviting bathroom design.
Now that I think about it, I have a trip to Australia with Dad coming up next month. Let’s hope our hotels get the memo that I am his daughter, not wife.
Have you had any similar awkward experiences with bathrooms that leave nothing to the imagination? If so, I’d love to hear your stories!
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  1. Vard says

    LOL, great post. I just want to add that when you travel with significant other their is nothing “sexy” about going #2 with no door between you and a loved one. On our all inclusive trip to Riviera Maya I opted to go to another bathroom to take care of business…

  2. Brett says

    I was in a great hotel in Costa Rica where the showers were outside each room and exposed to not only your room, but everyone who happened to be walking around the hotel’s grounds. Luckily, the hotel only had 13 rooms, so there weren’t many guests.

  3. Rasputin says

    Radisson Blu (Chennai City Center) had blinds on the bathroom window. So, guests can choose to leave it open or be private.

  4. PainCorp says

    Completely agree about this. When my friends and I went to vegas we actually avoided certain hotels because of this. Great if you’re with a significant other, bag if you’re not.

  5. BOShappyflyer says

    Family and I took a trip to Vegas Caesar’s Palace a couple of years back, and the bathroom is somewhat exposed with glass all around. Not cool, but we were just there just one night before we move onwards. Don’t fix what’s not broken…

  6. reeder says

    Checking tripadvisor for bathroom photos usually helps. Sometimes you can request a “solid bathroom door” in the reservation notes. I’ve done that for design hotels including when I travel with my father.

  7. Brian Cohen says

    Angelina, if you are sharing a room with at least one other person in a non-romantic manner, you can do one of three things to avoid this predicament in the future:
    1. Either stay at a hotel property you know for certain does not have a funky bathroom layout — such as a Hampton Inn, for example, or
    2. Contact personnel at the hotel property beforehand and ask about bathroom layouts — and ask to change rooms, if available — do not just leave a note or memo in your reservation, or
    3. Book a room for yourself.
    I hope this helps.

  8. al613 says

    Another strange thing at the expensive hotels – bathrooms don’t lock. Not very good when you have little kids or just have to warn each other that you are going to the bathroom.

  9. glu800 says

    I’ve noticed a recent proliferation in this type of hotel bathroom design as well, and don’t understand it for the life of me. At least have the option of blinds or shades so people can have a little bit of privacy in the bathroom!

  10. Lynn says

    Totally agree. My travel partner is a non-romantic male friend. I look at photos on trip advisor and ask questions to try to make sure the places we book have some privacy.

  11. JetsettingEric says

    If i remember correctly, the Conrad in San Juan had a sliding door in the wall, a bit tricky to find, but there should be a door.

  12. Jess says

    I’ve never stayed at a hotel with an open bathroom but I think it’s a pretty awful trend. Even when staying with an SO, you don’t always want everything out in the open. A bathtub, maybe, but the toilet and shower should have a door. There are some things I don’t necessarily want to be seen–or see.

  13. PH says

    Often easily solved by asking housekeeping for a sheet and hanging over the glass. (Yes, some designs have the glass attached to the ceiling and this solution won’t work.)

  14. says

    I came to your site via a friend who heard me ranting about bathrooms with glass walls. UGH! Showers are one thing – though I hadn’t considered the awkwardness of traveling with someone other than my husband – but making the walls see-through? I do NOT want to be able to see ANYONE on the toilet from bed. So not my thing.

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