Just in case you haven’t had the misfortune of using a toilet with a faraway door, and have absolutely no clue what I’m on about, let me explain. A toilet with a faraway door is almost exclusively to be found in dodgy old pubs, hotels and restaurants that have been converted from other things. Walls have been moved, kitchens have been bunged in, WC facilities have been added as an afterthought – usually with old, chipped sanitary-ware and those high-up cisterns with a chain flush that doesn’t work.
Nothing wrong with that – we’re all used to rubbish toilet facilities, probably. Lack of loo roll, the toilet seat that isn’t attached properly and propels you off to the side at the crucial moment, the door that doesn’t have a lock so that you are forced to wee with one foot pushed up against it. (Interesting.) Ah yes! The door with no lock! There is only one thing worse than a toilet door with no lock, and that’s a Faraway Door. The toilet with a Faraway Door, Dear Friends, is at one end of an inexplicably cavernous room, and the door is at the other. Does this not make anyone else feel ridiculously vulnerable? It only takes one drunken person to push the door just a little too hard and there you suddenly are, exposed and guilty-looking, sat on your throne to be viewed and pitied until the intruder deems it a fitting time to utter their apologies and shuffle out backwards. THIS IS MY WORST NIGHTMARE! (Apart from drowning, getting stuck in a cave without a torch, being buried alive and accidentally scraping Mr AMR’s special Audi wheels in the Westfield carpark.)
A toilet door should be right next to the toilet. Whether it’s in a hotel room, at home, in a pub, in a service station: there should be no more than a couple of feet between you, sat on the loo, and the door. You should be able to block invasions with a foot, wedged against the woodwork; you should be able to stop that door with Kung-Fu reaction times, your hand shooting out at lightening speed as soon as you hear the handle being rattled. (I hope that none of this is “just me” and my weird phobias? I know that some people are absolutely fine to do their private things with the door open; long-lost relatives traipsing on through to brush their teeth, a film crew squished into the shower-stall, but – show of hands – who quite likes a completely secure toilet environment?)
Real-life example of a too-faraway toilet door. Setting: expensive hotel room with palatial bathroom. Toilet is approximately 300yds from the door, door has no lock.
“Room clean!” (Voice from outer door.)
“No thank you!” (That’s me.)
Door to hotel room opens.
“NO THANK YOU!” (That’s me. I am sat on the toilet, obviously, otherwise I would get up and tell the maid rather than bellowing it across the great expanse of marble flooring. I am also completely naked, which makes things a LOT WORSE.)
“Room clean!” I hear the maid cross the room and (why?!) approach the bathroom door.
“NO! NO! NO!” I am apoplectic with a strange form of helpless rage – I am in a difficult situation. What does one do in this precarious time? There are not enough seconds to stop and “secure the barracks”, so to speak; getting caught midway through this is one thousand times worse than just staying seated and adopting a content expression, like a hen upon an egg. But who wants to be viewed, by a stranger, sitting upon the loo? Not I! Needless to say that the door burst open and I was faced with the blank expression of the hotel maid, who, to be fair, must have seen things that we wouldn’t even be able to imagine. (Perhaps she should learn the “knock and wait for someone to answer, then actually listen to their answer” method of entry.)
“Okay,” I said.
Toilets with Faraway Doors: begone. If you must have a ridiculously large bathroom, then make sure it has a good lock. For the sake of your guests, at least. If you’re designing a restaurant or pub re-fit, consider, perhaps, having four lavatories in the gargantuan space that presently, on your plans, contains only one. We ladies do not need a powder room big enough to do a U-turn in a juggernaut in – we just want to be able to wee in peace. Uninterrupted. Without the threat of our Uncle/Great Aunt/Boss/Father-in-Law walking on in.
And I’ll just add, to this: those new-fangled toilets on trains. The ones where the WHOLE ENTIRE WALL slides away if someone presses the “open” button. What’s up with those, please? Once that door starts a-sliding, there ain’t nothing you can do to stop it – just prepare to greet your audience with a smile on your face. I know there’s a button that says “LOCK”, but do excuse me if I prefer the old-fashioned type, the ones that actually create an attachment between door and wall.