Is This The Most Poorly Designed Luxury Hotel Bathroom?

Filed Under: Hilton, Hotels

When it comes to poorly designed hotel bathrooms, usually W Hotels take home all the prizes. As much as I love many W Hotels, the whole “bathtub in the middle of the room” concept doesn’t really do it for me. For those of us not renting by the hour, it just seems rather impractical.

W Hotel Beijing, China

And it’s not limited to just one W Hotel, but rather is a consistent theme.

W-SantiagoW Hotel Santiago, Chile

Last night I stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Panama City, which was an all around nice hotel. I mean, it’s tough to complain when you book a one night stay for $160, and thanks to Virtuoso it comes with a $100 hotel credit, free breakfast, and a room upgrade.

We got an upgrade to a beautiful junior suite.


There was only one problem — the bathroom and shower setup, which completely lacked privacy.

The shower was located behind the king size bed, with a glass shield separating the two areas. I’ve seen plenty of hotels with “peek-a-boo” bathrooms, but usually there’s a curtain or blinds which you can utilize for some added privacy. There was no such privacy in this suite. When you were showering you were “on display” in the room.


And who knows, maybe that was the intent. Based on the size of the shower, perhaps the room was designed for “parties” (there are some hotel showers specifically marketed as such).


But more puzzling was the bathroom as such. There was no door separating the bathroom from the rest of the room. You could walk right in. And the toilet was located right as you entered the bathroom area, with a half-glass shield separating it from the rest of the bathroom.


So there was zero privacy between the shower, toilet, and bathroom. If you want to shower, everyone in the room can see you. If you want to use the toilet, anyone in the room can see and hear you.

Aside from the lack of privacy this results in, it’s equally frustrating for those of us who like to take hot showers. I love keeping my hotel rooms really cold at night, but then love turning the shower area into a near-sauna early in the morning. With nothing separating the bedroom from the bathroom, I was rather cold while in the shower, despite the water being hot

Even if I were traveling alone, I would have an issue with this setup.

Would you have a problem with a hotel bathroom setup like this?

  1. “If you want to shower, everyone in the room can see you.”

    Hmmm Ben, how many people stay in your room in general? 😀

    Honestyl I like these design concepts, of course it´s not for sharing with room mates or with a colleague. But if you´re traveling alone or with your partner, who likes that too… 😉

  2. I remember first seeing this sort of layout in Asia several years ago and now it’s also becoming common in the ‘west’. Honestly I like the idea of having a view from the tub or shower, especially when you have a nice view like I remember having at the Renaissance Hong Kong. However I feel like it is common sense to put blinds so guests actually have the choice of privacy. They need to understand not all guests staying together in a room are couples or looking for ‘parties’. Your last paragraph says exactly what I was going to comment; the worst part of it is the lack of comfort when you have the AC on and it is impossible to take a decent hot shower.

  3. I hate this type of setup! Even though I usually travel with my partner but Id like to have some privacy so we avoid these types of hotels.

    Why do hotels think this is ok?

  4. This is an interesting discussion, especially as these peek-a-boo-bathrooms become more and more popular. Personally, I’m not a big fan of this concept, regardless of the person I’m travelling with. However, if there’s a curtain or whatever to restore the privacy, it’s fine.

    But in this case…I guess I’d say that it is one of the most poorly designed bathrooms ever, yep.

  5. The worst part is the toilet situation!!! OMG! I would never stay in that room with anyone else.

  6. No door for the toilet? Reminds of Artotel Amsterdam… Won’t make that mistake again. It’s disgusting, wouldn’t want it even by myself.

  7. Yeah, this is just…weird. The scary thing is, there has be a market/demand for this, otherwise why would they keep designing rooms like this?

  8. Check out the Andaz in San Diego – great hotel but a bunch of the rooms have floor to ceiling glass showers right next to the bed. Even less privacy and absolutely no way to block views at all.

  9. Agree the toilet aspect is the most egregious aspect! I would hope hotels would at least have some flashing neon kind of notice about these bathroom setups before people book. I already absolutely hate the frosted glass doors to bathrooms that leave a small opening at the edge. I hope the hotels are reading your post and taking note!

  10. This sort of thing is becoming all too common in Europe as well. I always check out the Trip Advisor reviews and photos before booking anything. If it has a door to the bath, and a privacy curtain or blinds, I’ll put up with it. If not, I’m staying somewhere else. Wife and I are happily intimate in lots of ways, but using the toilet isn’t one of them. 🙁

  11. Doors keep other things in besides sight and sound. I wouldn’t want it solo.

    At least it has a desk.

  12. Has anyone of you ever stayed at the dutch citizenM chain? It’s even worse there. The rooms are more like a bathroom with a bed – yes, really: when you enter the room, there’s a sink, then a round toilet cell on one side, and a round shower cell on the other, and at the end of the room, there’s the bed. While the toilet cell features at least opaque glass walls, you really have to like your roommate a lot when staying there together.

    However, there may even be a catch about the blinds between bathroom and bedroom on the usual kind of asian-style setup – the CP HKG Causeway Bay has a sliding wall to cover the glass between shower and bedroom, but it can only be operated from the bedroom side. Hence, if any treacherous roommate would choose to open it while you are taking a shower, it would still deliver you..

  13. Yuck. That just screams “cheap”.

    I love the bathroom layout in the Park Hyatt Sydney – you can have the divider open for a few through to the Harbour and the Opera House if you desire, but you can also close it for privacy if you are sharing the room with someone.

  14. Not an error, rather a sexy feature. I stayed at the Standard NYC and it was similar. I loved it. I was with my girlfriend.

  15. Yep. That’s certainly up there in the “what were they thinking?” Hall of Shame. I’ll never understand how this open bathroom concept has become popular with hotel architects. It certainly doesn’t seem to be something the public is demanding. Maybe it’s cheaper to put up some glass instead of a wall.

  16. According to the new generation of Hotel Consultants, bathtubs in the middle of rooms is a thing. It is what Millennials want and demand. On another note, I heard the “W” concept was created as an upscale, hourly hotel originally called “Whore” – but the name caused more waves than a red light district water bed, so it was shortened to “W” as we know it today. 😀

  17. Bye bye German Lucky, hello American Lucky. Don’t be so uptight, bathtubs in the room are aweson, especially if they have a view. I have to admit, however, that these examples are poorly designed and have tacky finishes.

  18. I don’t mind the shower and bath being semi private, but the toilet! No way should anyone have ever thought that was a good idea.

  19. My first memory of seeing a “shower with a view” was at a small indie hotel in Bandung, a city 100km east of Jakarta, and I was amazed by how much more spacious the room was. But I’d like to stress that when travelling, I like to squeeze my whole family in a room, and boy does this kind of stuff make it impossible.

  20. The Norwegian Epic cruise ship had cabins like that (clear glass bathroom dividers). I was warned about it beforehand, so I bought an opaque plastic shower curtain and a half dozen suction cup (with hooks) towel hangers.
    I ended up not using it because enough previous passengers complained so Norwegian put in curtains.

  21. It amazes me that lack of privacy is becoming popular. I’ve stayed at hotels where the doors to the bathroom do not close completely and have clear glass or foggy glass. Seriously? I sometimes travel and share rooms with friends–male and female. When I travel with my male friend he has been kind enough to leave the room while I shower when we stay in these stupidly planned rooms. I always look at photos on TripAdvisor before I book just to avoid these situations.

  22. This is fairly common in newer hotels globally. Of the hotels I’ve stayed in with this setup, the majority do not come with privacy blinds.

  23. This issue is my biggest pet peeve when staying at some hotels. The open showers are annoying but acceptable if I’m travailing with my wife or alone. But toilets which are not privet or fully enclosed drives me nuts. I don’t want others to hear or smell my bodily functions. I just don’t understand what so hip and cool about smelling other people’s poo. Heck I don’t like smelling my own. Anyways. The Netherlands does seem to lead to way for this as some have posted and I have personally stayed at the Q hotel Amsterdam. Where the bed and bathroom are made from one unite and there is ZERO privacy if going to the bathroom.

  24. I hate glass between the bedroom and bathroom, whether clear or frosted. Wake up in the middle of the night, turn bathroom light on… and you’ve now lit up the entire bedroom too. Seriously annoying if you’re not travelling alone.

  25. Wow, toilet situation is unbelievable and unacceptable. Can’t believe that made it through all the way from idea to reality. How many people saw that and said, “yeah that’s okay,” or worse “wow, great idea?”

    Love the W bathrooms though. Bathtubs are generally for the views, tv maybe, and the chance to talk to your partner throughout. Baths are typically pretty long and maybe the book you brought along isn’t as good as expected.

    Peek-a-boo bathrooms are a weird idea but lots of them do have a really great aesthetic. this could just be because the hotels I’ve stayed at with these bathrooms are luxury, but many of those without them are just regular. But either way, it’s easy enough to make most work even when traveling with platonic friends.

    Would not be as great traveling with colleagues, but I assume that would involve a room with separate beds, and hope hotels don’t have rooms with two beds and a bathtub in between them or anything silly like that. Might be as bad as the open toilet.

  26. Privacy for the toilet, panoramic view for the tub, please. I like to luxuriate in the tub and I hate being cut off from my companion and my view. A late night hot bubble bath doesn’t have to be done in secret. Better still, if there’s room for 2 in the tub, in the middle of the room, by the window with the best view.

    Shower, I don’t want privacy but as a matter of design, it should offer the option, so all you uptight people can exhale for a brief moment.

    Ben’s point about temperature and humidity is valid, too, so if you want one room cold and dry, the other warm and humid, it’s nice to accomodate that in the design.

    The toilet should be in a private room with a door and an effective exhaust. Even I have my limits…

  27. When I first started hearing stories about upscale hotels like this, one of the commenters seemed to hit the nail on the head.

    These hotels are designed for you to keep an eye on your stuff while your “guest” (paid or unpaid) is in the adjacent room.

    And in that context, this makes perfect sense.

  28. I’d like to know WHO actually wants this stuff? I DON’T!! Most (business) travelers I know don’t. I certainly don’t want to see this when I’m sharing a room with a coworker, especially a female coworker.

    NOT a fan of the peek-a-boo bathrooms. My girlfriend and I tend to run on opposite schedules, so forget trying to sleep if someone is in the bathroom. And an open toilet? C’mon, plumbing was a relatively new concept for the Victorians and even they knew to keep the crapper away from the living areas.

    Bathroom with a view? Maybe. I’d prefer to have an exterior window IN the bathroom which lets natural light in over a bathroom window/hole/curtain which lets me look through the room.

    My fav. bathrooms were at the now-defunct/maybe to reopen Intercontinental Barclay in NYC. Not the aesthetics as much as function. They had a frosted outside window which let in natural light AND you could open it, an extra shelf above the sink for toiletries, and a nice, big radiator next to the toilet which I’d also use as a towel warmer. I get cold easily — I appreciate the extra warmth in a bathroom.

  29. I hate the Las Vegas stripper showers circa 2000 design. It has to end. Open bathrooms are just wrong. I stayed in a kimpton where the shower could be seen all over the room or you could pull down a screen to completely close it off. That was well done, as it let in natural light if the shade was open and closed it off if the shade was down. Not everyone who travels is paying hookers or staying with their sig other. I travel a lot for business. Sometimes I travel with family. I do not want to know what is going on in there in that bathroom. Bathroom fixtures need to stay in the bathroom, preferably with a door. Stripper shower design works in the no- tell motel but not at high end corporate conferences. I am also over finding sex kits in boutique hotels. Explaining to my ten year old what the bottles of lube are for – just no.

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