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The Good Loo Guide - Worldwide
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Trinidad & Tobago
Chefette, various locations across the island Barbados' local fast food chain may not be glamorous, but it is clean and blessedly air-conditioned. A useful stop after a long hot walk, and if you were wondering where the locals ate - you've found it.
Mullins Bay Restaurant, Mullins Bay Still listed in a lot of the guidebooks as a beach bar, Mullins Bay is now quite a smart restaurant and you won't be able to go in in your swimwear. But it's worth getting frocked up for the coral-pink loos, floridly decorated with sea-nymphs. Loos in Barbados are generally functional at best, which makes this riot of comfort, imagination and almost opulance very welcome.
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Coconut Beach, Grand AnseClean enough to go to in your bare feet when you've stopped in for a drink after a walk on Grand Anse beach (and to hide from torrential rain in our case). Cheerful home made dolls mark out the men's from the women's, they even have colourful Caribbean-style loo roll holders.
La Luna, Morne RougeThe mud walls reminded me of Kapani Lodge in Zambia - a clever way to maintain La Luna's trendy Balinese/Moroccan/something (whatever it is, not West Indian, for sure) while having loos which are posh enough for the smart Italian restaurant and casual enough for the pool.
Spice Island Resort, Grand Anse The poshest hotel in Grenada, with formidable air conditioning in the loos.
Thrilled to find the loos here were good, because I just had to mention this as having some of the finest views I've ever enjoyed from a restaurant table, despite this it was empty when we came. It juts out from a headland with views of forested coastline below. We sat and watched an osprey over our creole chicken and nutmeg ice cream. Miles away from any tourist places, but it's really worth getting a taxi or the No 5 mini bus out from St George for lunch.
Water's Edge Restaurant, Bel Air Plantation, St David's We were staying here so I got to know this restaurant quite well... Saloon doors to cubicles slightly disturbing but otherwise good loos, lovely restaurant right, as the name implies, on the water's edge. No ospreys, but we enjoyed watching the land crabs on the lawn every morning over breakfast.
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Peninsula HotelA classy establishment like the Peninsula, apparently, so my hosts told me, one of the great hotels of the world, should be classy in this department too. And it is, marble, nice frosted glass screens and more (but ignore the slightly 1960s salmon pink urinals). I was going to take a photo of this understated marvel but the effiicent man who runs the taps might have been confused. He does the taps well and is pretty charming and, best of all, there appears to be no way of tipping (although maybe I just didn't see it). Nice.
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Bullet TrainNot quite the technological nightmare you might imagine but every bit as clean as you might hope. For someone used to travelling on British trains, this is enough to make it seem like a miracle.
Marunouchi, Tokyo - 35th Floor, Gent's Toilets, New Marunouchi Building Not the most impressive toilets in the world but perfectly pleasant and clean and so forth. Not as high technology as you might expect from Japan so perfectly safe for foolish Gaijin. What is worth coming for is the view from the windows outside. A beautiful view in the right weather although you do have to lean into the windows to see the Imperial Palace.
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Barney's Cafe, Nanyuki AirportShould you find yourself at this tiny, friendly airport, boasting of its position on the Equator, show you are in the know. Eschew the prominently signposted airport toilets (really, a wooden shack) and instead head for the ones belonging to Barney's, charming, clean, individual towels and everything. It would of course be only polite to stop at Barney's itself and try some of the coffee, renowned throughout the region, and excellent, even when the cappuchino machine (beloved of Kenyan charter pilots who seem to treat Barney's as a second home) is out of action due to lack of electricity. And don't worry, despite not having checked you in or even looked at your ticket, the Kenya Airways man does know where you're going & will come & get you personally when your flight arrives. You don't get that at Gatwick.
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As we've said, it's not the policy of this site to recommend loos that are in hotel rooms. So we aren't officially listing Tshukudu Game Lodge at Pilanesberg National Park, North West Province, but I will just say it's the only loo where I have been able to watch zebra and wildebeest as I gaze across my sunken bath. Go now while the rand is still pretty silly.
Franschhoek, Western Cape - La Haute Cabriere Less for the loos themselves and more for the view at the end of the corridor. Looking through the grille up into a huge cellar, it's like worshipping at a magnificent cathedral of wine.
Melville, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Soi Thai/Vietnamese restaurant in trendy 7th Street, Melville, an area where you can walk the streets and park your car with relative confidence. There's little pavement cafes and everything (Most of Gauteng doesn't even have pavements). Soi is a classy act and the loos follow on from that. (To get into wider travel tips, Clouds End Guesthouse, just around the corner, is excellent - an ideal stopoff if you've flown into Jo'burg and don't want to follow an 11 hour flight with a drive up to Kruger or wherever.)
Paarl, Western Cape - Bosman's/Grande Roche So what if it's a bit of a walk from the spectacularly situated dining area, gazing across vineyards to the stunning mountains beyond? All the more opportunity to take in the civilised ambience of this Relais & Chateaux restaurant and hotel. When you get there, the loos are spotless and well-appointed.
Pretoria, Gauteng - Nino's, Hillcrest Mall Chain-y sandwichcocktails'n'coffee place with outside tables overlooking a car park; but the loos are surprisingly stylish and like virtually all in South Africa, spotless to boot.
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Akasaka, somewhere near Coex A pleasant but slightly impenetrable Japanaese fish resturant in downtown Seoul (the whole of Seoul is in effect downtown). Pretty good food, toilets on the ground floor. Easy, uncomplicated but modern systems, locks on the door and everything you might need (within reason). How you find it using the arcane address system? Who knows!
KTX trains For reasons of completeness, we should include Korea's answer to the Bullet Train. I think that at the point of writing (June 2004) there were still teething problems as my train arrived fifteen minutes late. Nice steel toilets, clean and functional: Midland Mainline take note!!!! On the other hand, do be careful as the first thing you think is a toilet could be the staff waiting spaces. Persevere though, it will be fairly obvious when you find it.
Seoul, World Cup Stadium underground station To paraphrase others, a nice stadium with a tube station attached. Actually a nice toilet, with flowers and automatic everything. In public transport space, you are grateful for what you get and this is the top of the bill really. Farringdon Station take note, it is possible to have toilets that are actually sometimes in use.
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Tobago - Pelican Reef, Crown Point The loos here unfortunately don't have the excellent air-conditioning that makes the bar such a welcome place after a long walk, but they are clean, modern and well stocked with all the essentials.
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ChicagoWe've searched in vain to find somewhere we can recommend here. The only decent one found was in the British Airways First Class Lounge (they were doing upgrades). However, much as we may appreciate a decent loo, it's probably not worth the extra cost of the ticket to use them.
Miami, FloridaA general point - all cubicles in Miami seem to be the size of football pitches. So many early contenders were ruled out when I realised that the spaciousness was standard. As unfortunately seems to be the practice of leaving about a 2ft gap between walls and floor.
Miami - Osteria del Teatro, Washington & Espagnola, South BeachAfter the vast expanses of the average Miami loo this is pleasantly claustrophobic (albeit there's still room for the odd spare restaurant chair) with proper walls and everything. Plus an enormous sink and fake roses.
Miami - Front Porch Cafe, Ocean Drive, South BeachDespite opening disconcertingly straight off the dining area, a fine facility. I know people in London whose flats are smaller than this.
Miami - Claridge Hotel, 3500 Collins Ave, Miami BeachYou can just imagine Elizabeth Taylor lounging in the plunge pool in this hotel's lobby. The loos themselves are as good as you would expect from the elegant decor as you walk from the restaurant.
Miami - Historical Museum of South Florida, Miami Cultural Center, DowntownMaybe it's the contaxt but there's something rather deco about the austere ceramic sinks and urinals, even the paper towel dispenser goes for clean lines and pastels. It's probably age rather than trendiness. To paraphrase the V & A, a nice loo with a pretty decent museum attached.
Miami - Biltmore Hotel, Coral GablesSuper-plush & properly glam hotel after the hygenic functionality of the pretenders on Miami Beach (Eden Roc nearly made it but Fontainbleau, forget it). Wierdly lacking in loo paper but more than made up for by full-length cubicle walls. This hotel also has the largest swimming pool in the continental USA.
New York - Bryant Park Grill, 42nd St between 5th & 6th Lovely green perspex and walnut-type wood effect fittings.
New York - Pershing Square Cafe, 42nd St opposite Grand Central Station In keeping with the classic style of this diner, nestled under the arches of the Grand Central approach bridge, a very elegant space with wooden cubicles and some particularly charming bin units..
Palm Springs, CA - Shame on the Moon, Rancho Mirage Described as a mature gay restaurant, this is recommended by most people in Palm Springs. And it is mature in most ways: the clientele empties out by 10.30, the food is grown up too, with relatively small portions and good flavours, and the staff were excellent. All in all, a nice restaurant. But you're not here for the restaurant review are you? What about the toilets? Well, single large cubicles with locks (which not everyone seems to use); nice, fairly old fashioned sinks, Frank Sinatra music over the top (he used to live nearby), what I seem to recall as marble floor tiles. In a word, understated and classy, not words often associated with California.
Palm Springs, CA - Agua Bar and Grill, Palm Springs Spa Resort Casino If you are holed up in the Hyatt which, to be quite frank, is not all that nice, come here for lunch. Watch the hummingbirds as you eat, look at the nice fox statue and the painted mountain sheep (again a statue: hard to paint the real ones apparently) and be slightly surprised by the nice toilets. Cubicle doors down to the ground, clean and well-maintained with some element of pride, faux marble everywhere and just generally rather nice.
Washington DC - Kramerbooks, Dupont CircleNot actually very salubrious, to be honest, but worth a visit for the comedy grafitti in the mens. Kramerbooks, by the way, is a fab place - bookshop come cocktail bar come breakfast place, full of people doing all those un-American things that they get up to in Washington DC, like drinking and smoking and being intellectual and enjoying themselves.
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Lusaka - International Arrivals Hall At last! The real Africa. The promise of excitement and new experiences... but as one lands at Lusaka for the first time, one is, let's face it, not looking forward to the loos much. Fear not. These are perfectly fine, and make Gatwick South Terminal look like the hovel it is.
Livingstone - The Royal Livingstone Hotel Our trip here was not intentional. We were supposed to be over the border in Botswana but (atypically, we were assured) our flight from Mfuwe was delayed by 5 hours and the Botswana border shut at 6. At around 8 o'clock at night we found ourselves at the Royal Livingstone, courtesy of local airline Airwaves Airlink (apparantly our tour operators Wildlife Worldwide kindly intervened as regards choice of hotel - still, you wouldn't get this from RyanAir). We were, to put it frankly, not too happy. This was not the kind of hotel we came to Africa for. A few days ago we'd been at fabulous Tafika, in the South Luangua national park, using a grass walled lavatory shared with the lizards and frogs (Really very nice, honestly). The Royal Livingstone is a bizarre cross between olde-worldy colonial (built in the 90s obviously) and Amercian style service culture, which results in very polite flunkeys in pith helmets driving you around in golf carts and telling you what the kettle does (I can actually believe there may be people staying here who don't know what a kettle does). Anyway, tired and fed up though we were, we decided to make the best of this unexpected experience and finally (this is getting a bit AA Gill) I come to the loos. The ladies I thought was good, but the other half of GLG's reporting team came back that the men's was really special (Naturally I wouldn't stick my head round the door to check it out). A crazy but glorious recreation of a Regency beau's flushing restaurant toilet. Exactly the kind of paradox you would expect from this strange and extraordinary hotel.
Livingstone - The River Club Not sure, actually, whether this strictly meets our criteria - I am not sure if there's any opportunities for non-guests to visit. Anyway! A couple of very nice spacious loos, with good magazines and so on..
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