Returning to my Roots

Most of you, actually probably NONE of you know this- I actually started this blog to write about bathrooms. Does that seem strange? Well to be perfectly serious it was probably 50% to write about food and 50% to write about bathrooms. Let me break this down for you.

Growing up my family travelled a lot…I mean a lot! And as a family of five with both parents employed as teachers we surely weren’t doing all these vacations by plane. Oh no! Most of the time we were packed like sardines in the back of a Thunderbird driving across the great states of USA. My father seemed to think it was bad form to break as an educator during these trips. This meant that every museum, geographic milestone and historic landmark (whether it was truly historic or not) would be stopped at along the way. It didn’t end there however. The car ride itself was a perfect place for him to regal the ins and outs of different things we passed along the way. Just about every three minutes I was told to look out the window at something new and exciting. Meanwhile all I wanted to do was keep my nose in one of my Babysitter Club books. Okay I went off on a little tangent there so let’s bring it back.

Why the bathrooms… Well those few and far between bathroom stops were my break moments, a little quiet respite from the loud, hot car and my two annoying brothers. And from a very young age I was obviously exposed to some pretty horrible bathrooms. If you think of your average gas station or rest stop area you’re not seeing a pretty picture. I began to truly appreciate finding a nice bathroom. So much so that whenever we stopped to eat, sleep or anything I would always check out the bathroom to see what it looked like. Sometimes they were disgustingly dirty. Sometimes they were shocking nice and sometimes they were so lavish and beautiful I almost didn’t want to leave. I can even remember the first time I was truly blown away by a bathroom. It was on a day trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake and we stopped at the Prince of Wales hotel right before heading home in the car. This bathroom was magnificent! Beautiful, richly scented flowers greeted you at the door, marble countertops for the sink , head to toe mirrors everywhere and the best part- big wooden doors that looked like they belonged on a house rather than on a stall. I have no idea what kind of wood they were made from- I was too young to care. I just know they were the most magnificent bathroom doors I had ever seen in my life.

So there you have it. Ever since then I’ve enjoyed bathrooms. Did my parent notice my strange obsession and try to stop it? No. In fact it was encouraged. My father actually wanted to make me up comment cards that I could leave at each bathroom I visited with a letter grade and things they could improve upon. That never happened (my mother was the normal one btw) but I still feel it holds some value today. Have you ever gone in somewhere so beautiful you couldn’t believe your eyes? Or be turned off at a nice place by a lousy dirty bathroom?

I have experienced both and I think it’s an important part of the dining experience. Which brings me to the whole reason for this long rant. I will be introducing a bathroom system to be used when I visit various restaurants. It will be based on a scale of one to five flushes- one flush being the worst and five flushes being the best. Here are some of the things that make a great bathroom in my mind:

1. Clean! I know this isn’t always the restaurants fault and I will take that into consideration but there is nothing worse than walking into a dirty room. Floors should be swept, garbage cans emptied regularly and sinks and mirrors wiped down.

2. In Stock Supplies- the bathrooms must have adequate paper towels and toilet paper. Minus extra points if the bathroom is missing any of the other essentials such as a mirror.

3. A stall that is private. Now this one is tricky. Sometimes a private stall is bad. If you have a room that fits 100 people and one tiny private bathroom that’s a bad thing. Nothing is worse than waiting in line and knowing others are waiting in line outside for you. But something that makes the stall seem private. The Waldorf Astoria lobby washroom has individual private stalls within a larger multiple stall bathroom. That is quite a perfect set up in my book.

4. Bonus points for something that makes it unique/special. One of the best bathrooms I ever had the pleasure of being inside was in Tuscany at the Banfi Winery. This bathroom sat on a hill with a huge window overlooking views of the hills and fields below. It was so breathtaking I think everyone in our nine person group took a gander. Obviously this would be very hard to surpass but you don’t have to be in Italy to make it feel special. It can be as easy as the fresh cut flowers and linen towels at Gramercy Tavern or the low lit candles at Kellari Parea.

So that’s about it! We’ll see how this whole thing goes. I’ll try to get a picture when I can but obviously not if others are inside (some things are meant to be private). I’m sure I won’t rate every place I go but I’ll do my best to save you from a dirty bathroom experience. Don’t say I never did anything for you.