A guide to Dutch Housing: bathrooms!

‘The toilet is through there, the washbasin is that way, and the hand towel is just left of this room on your right…’ Dan's Guide to Dutch Housing part II.

The party is still going. You’ve finished cooking and served dinner, but your guests are now asking to be excused (probably to dispose of the food that they have stored in their cheeks). ‘Where the flannel is the bathroom?’ they spray.

In most other countries, this question is easily answerable. Here in Groningen, it’s a little more complicated.

‘Well’, you begin, ‘the toilet is through there, the washbasin is that way, the mirror is through that room, and the hand towel is just left of this room on your right…’

Dutch bathrooms are as confused as your wandering guests. The rooms aren’t big enough for a complete bathroom; so, instead of creating a room big enough for a bathroom, the architects, for most Dutch homes, have decided to place bits of bathroom in various different rooms.

For starters (the course after which guests began to frequent the toilet, funnily enough), Dutch toilets are built inside of cupboards: or, more likely by the discomfort it causes, the cupboard was built around the toilet. Dutch crap-cupboards are, without exaggeration, the smallest rooms you will ever not fit in.

After barely being able to shut the door behind you, you practically have to stand on the toilet to get any purchase: some Internationals, surprisingly, are more used to this than others, as is demonstrated by this amazing sign in Winscho:

After wiping away the inevitable spread of shit on the seat from shaky squatting, you rush to the washbasin (past the shower in the kitchen) to scrub your hands clean before anyone notices.

Yet, the sink is so small that your hands barely fit under the tap, and the soap is so rubbery that you can’t even conjure up some suds. Not only that, but there is no hot water, only cold! It’s impossible to wash your hands properly without hot water, you quietly complain.

But this design is no mistake. The Dutch are demonstrating their practicality yet again. Cold water is not only cheaper, but also, contrary to popular UK-US belief, better for hand-hygiene than hot water, which is practically useless at temperatures safe for humans.

Then again, hot water feels good, and life is short, so, heck, drain the hot water tap of everything it has before it’s too late (if you’re lucky enough to have one here). Save your worry about bacteria for when it nibbles away at you in the ground…