Over in London there is the Bonneville, a darkly atmospheric bar with a turn-of-the-century vibe. This continues its spooky theme in the loos with the aid of Victorian plumbing, old marine lamps and a ghostly soundtrack of chants and whispers.

“More than 90% of people felt that the washroom played an important part in their overall impression of hospitality facilities.”

Elsewhere in London is the South African-themed Shaka Zulu restaurant in Camden, which uses zebra prints and life-sized safari animal statues to enhance its washrooms. Meanwhile, the ladies’ toilets at the exclusive London Ritz hotel has extended its luxury theme by creating a plush environment complete with pink panelling, occasional tables and chaise longues.

The washrooms at London’s Shard are another revelation. Situated on the 31st floor of the highest building in western Europe, the toilets at the Aqua Shard bar and restaurant feature huge windows from which washroom visitors can admire views of the city below.

Not every ‘talking point’ washroom offered by restaurants, bars and other leisure facilities have such an obvious connection to the venue itself, however.

For example, the toilets of the Main Street Station Casino in  Berlin Wall. These were collected more than 20 years ago on behalf of the enterprising owner, who has now added contemporary artwork and historic photographs of the wall to extend the theme.

For some unexplained reason, the gents’ toilet at the Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California has a urinal waterfall wall made from real rock which is activated when visitors break a beam of light. And the enormous white toilet pods with colour-change LED lighting and piped music strike a bizarre, but fun note at The Sketch restaurant in London’s Mayfair.

In some facilities the entire bathroom has been turned into an off-the-wall talking point. At Atlantis, the Palm – an exclusive hotel in Dubai – guests in the underwater suite  en-suite bathrooms have a see-through wall which offers views into the aquarium next door.

But what is the point of putting so much expense and effort into washroom décor?

Branding is becoming increasingly important, and managers need to ensure that every part of their business reflects their core values from the service to the food and even to the washrooms.

Some managers are also keen to cause a stir and create publicity for their venues, while others may be keen to earn a place on one of the many ‘wacky washroom’ websites that proliferate on the internet. In this way they can gain attention and attract a wider clientele, particularly if attractive pictures of their washrooms are shared and retweeted.

Essity has long understood the importance of providing quality washrooms in restaurants, hotels and bars. A survey we carried out into washroom attitudes revealed that 42% of diners would rather eat at a restaurant where the loos had been attractively designed, for example.

In a second study it emerged that nine out of ten people  

Meanwhile, more than 90% felt that the washroom played an important part in their overall impression of hospitality facilities. And 67% of people surveyed felt that an attractively-designed washroom made their hotel or restaurant experience more pleasant.

We at Essity offer our own range of washroom dispensers for facilities that are designed to delight and impress. The Tork Image Design Line of dispensers combines brushed stainless steel fascias with a black trim to create an immediate impression of luxury and glamour in high-end washrooms.

“Japanese-fusion restaurant

Morimoto uses hologram mirrors to immerse the washroom visitor into  blossom reflections.”

But as of-the-wall washrooms that incorporate quirks and gimmicks continue to excite public imagination, organisations such as the Loo of the Year Awards are working quietly behind the scenes to raise hygiene standards – because it is still vitally important to get the basics right.

Impressive surroundings should not be delivered at the expense of cleanliness and hygiene and we should all feel able to use away-from-home washrooms safely and with no risk of cross-contamination from other users.

Studies we have conducted reflect the importance of these values. In one survey it emerged that 79% of respondents said they would not return to a restaurant that had a dirty washroom while 30% said they would actually walk out of a venue if the washroom were not clean.

Weird and wonderful washrooms may attract any amount of public attention but all we really require are hygienic facilities with ample supplies of toilet paper, soap and hand towels. The writing is on the wall – and whether that wall happens to be made of glass, rock or Berlin concrete is actually immaterial. WASHROOM HYGIENE | 57

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