Hotel showers and how to conquer them

For my job, I regularly have to travel to various countries across Europe and often this involves spending one or a few nights in a hotel room. Which usually come with a decent bathroom (I’m not going to go into the details of the time when a room pre-booked room turned out to come with something called a shared bathroom – suffice it ot say that the core problem is that it is cleaned only once a day, not after each indidual use of the shared facility).
Hot tap
Using most of the equipment in those bathrooms in a proper way is pretty straightforward, although flushing the toilet can require several attempts of pushing or pulling things that are part of or can be found in the vicinity of the toilet. But when one reaches the moment that toilet flusing is required, one is usually not under a great deal of pressure (this is at the end of the toilet visit, so should their have been any urgency, it has now gone, right?) and one is able to enjoy the full capacity of one’s senses.

The latter is not the case when it comes to taking a shower. At least, not in my case, as I wear glasses. To take a shower, I obviously take off these glasses. And that is where the difficulty arises. I’m really amazed by the creativity of designers of shower taps. Never had I imagined that it would possible to invent such a maddening multitude of systems to produce a simple stream of water. And with blurred vision, I can assure you it is sometimes not easy to figure out the correct combination (I haven’t encountered any that required entering the code of a safe to get it to work, but after everything I’ve seen so far, I’m not ruling out being confronted with one on a future occasion – and with the internet of things and extreme home automation just around the corner I would also not be surprised that it would come with an app on your smartphone).

The first hurdle is figuring out what needs to be done to activate the waterflow. Usually this step involves turning one or two wheel-shaped object(s) or manipulating a lever. If it’s a combination of a bath and shower, you then get to the tricky part: transfering the water stream from the bath tap to the shower head. This is where the aforementioned designers’ creativity has definitely gone wild. To cut a long story short: at that point, I push, pull, nudge, swipe and hit everything near the tap. It works – well, to be completely honest: it almost always works. I hereby admit to once having taken a bath instead of a shower because the endless amount of pushing, pulling, nudging, swiping and hitting remained unscuccessful.

And then it gets really tricky: making sure that the temperature of the water is somewhere near the level you have in mind. Please take my word for it: there are no fixed rules as to which side is hot and which side is cold. Even if words or colors seem to give you clues: a red dot or the word ‘hot’ merely means that this is MEANT to produce hot water, you can never be sure that it actually will (yes, this is experience talking). Eventually sustained attempts usually lead to the targeted mix of cold and hot water. As not all the hotels I have stayed in were 5 star, I can equally inform you that waiting for the water to get hot can take a while (sometimes I think the boiler producing the hot water is actually located in another part of town), which is obviously yet another difficulty added to the process of getting the water to the right temperature.

Having accomplished all of this, you have reached the point where the actual showering can start. But that is not necessarily the moment to simply relax and enjoy the shower. You need to stay focused at all times, as the transition time for changing from comfortably warm water to icy cold water can be astonishingly short (once again, experience talking).

A beautiful, brand new hotel in sunny Szczecinek (Poland)

A beautiful, brand new hotel in sunny Szczecinek (Poland)

But in one particular occasion, even having successfully taken all those hurdles, did not provide me with the the showering experience I had in mind. It was on a trip to Poland, in the beautiful city of Szczecinek (the pronounciation is actually easier than you might fear: ‘che’ as in chess, ‘chi’ as in cheese and ‘nek’ as in neck). We were staying in a very nice, brand new hotel. In fact it was even more than brand new. The night we arrived, we found out that we were the very first guests ever to stay at the hotel. And that it was actually not 100% finished: a few “minor details” still needed to be arranged. Some were quite obivous: upon arrival in the room, it was hard not to notice that there were no curtains or drapes (“promised for delivery next week”), which is not an insurmountable problem (it even saves you from the trouble of setting the alarm – loads of sunlight flooding in is quite effective), unless of course you are in the habit of not wearing pyjamas (as is indeed yours truly). There was also no wastepaper basket (“some rooms have them, the rest is delivered next Tuesday”), but that was in the end more of a problem for them than it was for me.

Fast forward to the next morning. The bathroom. The shower. Compared to previous experiences, things seemed to go quite well at first. Water at the right temperature was coming from the shower head fairly quickly. But then I noticed a small puddle of water on the bathroom floor. Probably the door of the shower cabin was not properly shut? The size of the puddle, however, started to increase at a very rapid pace – in fact it looked like ALL the water that came out of the shower head ended up on the bathroom floor. Turned out it indeed did: the shower cabin was simply not yet connected to the drain. Fortunately the towels were also brand new and able to absorb considerable amounts of water from what has since been referred to as my private pool.

I have more business trips scheduled, so who knows what I will find next time? And how about you? Do you have a hotel shower horror story?

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