Is a see-through hotel bathroom OK for families?

I saw an article about a week ago in The New York Times about a new trend in fancy hotels – the open, see-through bathroom. Designers are praising it as the greatest thing since flushable commodes. The story reported:

This was the shower at the W hotel where we stayed last week. A little bit of clear glass but also open.

This was the shower at the W hotel where we stayed last week. A little bit of clear glass but also open.

” ‘Today’s luxury hotel bath is a space to live in,’ said Trisha Wilson, the founder and chief executive of Wilson Associates, a company that over the last two years has built 6 hotels with open bathrooms, with 10 additional hotels planned in Morocco, Vietnam, China and other locales. ‘We are seeing as much as 50 percent of the guest room being dedicated to the bathroom,’ Ms. Wilson said about her firm’s hotels.”

But the idea creeped me out, as it did this daughter who was traveling with her father.

“Last fall, Anika Chapin accompanied her father on a business trip to Toronto. The room that they shared at the stylish Hôtel Le Germain had two separate beds, but also a large glass window dividing the bathroom and bedroom that left the shower in full view. Automatic blinds on the outside of the glass could be raised or lowered from a button in the bedroom, but not from inside the stall.”

The smoked glass "Fortress of Solitude" as my husband called it. A little bit of privacy but ...

The smoked glass "Fotress of Solitude" as my husband called it. It had a little bit of privacy but . . .

” ‘I guess it could be sort of mysterious and sexy in the right circumstances, but it’s definitely only awkward when you’re sharing the room with your dad,’ Ms. Chapin, a 26-year-old assistant Broadway director, said.”

After I read the article, I sort of dismissed it as “Well, we’ll never stay at a place nice enough to have to worry about this.” However, when we checked in last Friday night to the W in downtown Atlanta, I have to say the bathroom was pretty darn see through and if we had the kids with us, it would have made bath time difficult.

The shower was partially enclosed in clear glass but mostly just open. The toilet area was enclosed in smoked glass. You couldn’t see every detail, but you could totally see somebody sitting on the toilet or wiping their booty! (In 15 years of marriage I have NEVER seen my husband go to the bathroom. We have a closed-door bathroom policy. I do not need to see this.) Michael called it the “Fortress of Solitude” as in the Christopher Reeve “Superman” movie.

How much privacy on the toilet and in the shower does a FAMILY need? Would you be A-OK with the glass-enclosed shower? What about a glass-enclosed toilet? What about no glass at all? Is this a question you will ask when you book a hotel in the future – “Is your bathroom see-through?” Is that a question people should have to ask?

81 comments Add your comment


April 15th, 2009
7:48 am

That’s not my idea of a good time . . . ick!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 15th, 2009
7:56 am

Click on the New York Times story and see their pictures — the bathrooms they feature were much, much more see through!!!


April 15th, 2009
8:01 am

I could not bathe in that tub in front of the open window….eeek! Not for me.

DB my comment finally posted ( at the end of the comments) on Monday’s blog about mayo to mustard and I am interested in your input…or anyone else. I am off to school….have a sunny day everyone!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 15th, 2009
8:19 am

MJG — The system is spamming weird stuff — I know why it spams comments with lots of links — I can’t figure out why it’s hitting other ones.


April 15th, 2009
8:37 am

I stayed at a high rise hotel in Atlantic City facing the ocean and realized that the shower wall was a floor-to-ceiling plate glass window with no blinds or other covering and you could look right down and see the people on the boardwalk while showering. I wondered if they could also look up at me but it seemed like the windows were reflective. Since I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of, I didn’t really worry about it.


April 15th, 2009
8:41 am

I’m a fan of walls of separation. Division is good. Modesty is admirable. Not all human activities are equal.

This idiocy reminds me of the buffoon’s on the world’s catwalks, who think they are the avant garde because they paint anorexics up like clowns and dress them in garbage cans and call it haute couture.

We, the mindless masses, laugh at you fools who think bathrooms open to all are cool and trendy.

I am the Bob, and I speak for the masses.


April 15th, 2009
8:43 am

Bathroom time is private time. This idea is stupid.


April 15th, 2009
8:47 am

How much more kinky are we going to get as a country before the masses
will rise up and demand more common sense and dignity here, including TVs, movies and visible defecating? Back in the 70s I wrote a letter to
TV programing not to put an electronic keyhole on the old outhouse door
and that was just when they were showing couples in bed. Nobody listened
to me then either.


April 15th, 2009
8:48 am

No, I can’t imagine having a see-through in my home. Some things need to be private and anything done in the bathroom is among them. I invite my husband to join me in the times that I want to offer him a peep show while I shower.


April 15th, 2009
9:00 am

I got a hot body so I’m down for a see-through tub.


April 15th, 2009
9:08 am

Love this approach. Have this open shower in my home master suite. Not sure why all the fuss. My adult children get their own rooms when we travel.


April 15th, 2009
9:10 am

NO WAY! I guess if you were traveling alone or with your S.O. it would be ok, but definitely NOT with the family in tow! My step sons are 17 and 18! I SURE don’t want them seeing me and vice versa! I try to keep covered around my 5 year old now that he is getting old enough to recognize differences and ask questions! Lastly, I sure don’t want to see someone else taking care of their business on the toilet! It’s bad enough during potty training of the kids!


April 15th, 2009
9:18 am

This is only cool for couples or singles. I’m by no means a prude but if you’re sharing a room this will pose a problem. And most importantly, I sincerely hope these toilet rooms are completely enclosed. There’s nothing sexy about a #2 wafting through your room. I’m just saying….


April 15th, 2009
9:20 am

As an adult I would never stay in the same room as my father. I like my own personal space.

I happen to like the open bathroom concept for a hotel suite and I’m not quit sure what the puritans on the message board are all up in arms about. These types of hotels are catering to business travel or romantic getaways not for family travels. Common sense dictates that you would not expose yourself to your children.


April 15th, 2009
9:25 am

ok..potty time is private time…i am always amazed at people who are ok with using the potty in front of people…im not talking #1 only either. just not my thing. i prefer closed doors–ones you cant see thru. i am not ashamed of my body–its just not ok for someone to watch me at that time. as far as the bath/shower goes-if i want to take that with a partner i will invite-mostly my bath time is some of the only quiet and peaceful time i ever get…been that way since the first little bundle of joy almost 36 years ago—now the bath is like my sanctuary–my PRIVATE and QUIET sanctuary…each to his own…

one thing-if i was taken to a hotel like this as a special occasion i would not be impressed or happy to have a see thru bathroom…no way..


April 15th, 2009
9:28 am

ok i looked at the pics–and yes it is very nice and luxurous looking…still..i may be ok with the bathtub open if some play time is happening…but i would want the option for privacy too (my choice-not a curtain on the outside of the wall..hello??)..and no way for the toilet being open…nononono way


April 15th, 2009
9:31 am

My husband and I stayed in a hotel in Beijing with this type of bathroom recently. The bathroom was COMPLETELY open unless you pulled two sliding doors together. One door separated the bathroom from the rest of the room and the other from the hallway. The shower and toilet were enclosed in smoky glass. The dressing area was, again, open unless you had those sliding doors closed.

Didn’t like it. Especially hard to manage when one of you needed to get up during the night. There was no nightlight and you had no choice but to flood the room with light. We tried to close the sliding doors and leave a light on in the bathroom during the night but we never found a happy medium.


April 15th, 2009
9:31 am

Last year I stayed at the JW Marriott in Beijing. It had a floor to ceiling glass wall that divided the bathroom from the bed area. But, it also had blinds that you could operate from INSIDE the bathroom (they were automatic) so that you could in fact close yourself off and have privacy. It was such a beautiful bathroom though, so when the blinds were up, it added to the room’s experience.


April 15th, 2009
9:38 am

Are sheetrock and stud walls really THAT expensive?

new mom

April 15th, 2009
9:51 am

This isn’t my thing…like others said, I could maybe see the shower/bath area having the option of being exposed, but the toilet? Nope. Yuck. TMI.

My question–do hotels make this wonderful amenity known upfront, so you can choose? Or are folks just surprised? I can see this being a fad that is quickly considered uncool and dated in five years, and these hotels will be renovating their rooms back to offer privacy. Or at least installing more blinds!


April 15th, 2009
9:54 am

15 years and neither of you have shared toilet time with each other??? I am sorry, but you are not truly close with your husband until you have shared the bathroom experience with him. My husband is the 1 and only person I would want to share that with. It is not like I call him in there with me but if he walks in, it is no problem.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 15th, 2009
9:58 am

hey Melinda — I will shower with him no problem but I’m not pooping in front of him and I don’t need to witness him on the pot with my eyes — I can hear him from the bedroom and that is plenty!


April 15th, 2009
10:06 am

Definitely not a hot bod and I reserve the right to protect your eyeballs from such a scary sight.


April 15th, 2009
10:10 am

Bad idea. My wife and I had one of these “luxuries” in Mexico. One would go out on the balcony while the other would go to the bathroom. Not romantic at all.

Mr. Obvious

April 15th, 2009
10:14 am

These still offer much more bathroom privacy than disgraced & imprisoned THUG Mike Vick has now.


April 15th, 2009
10:28 am

Wow. I’ve never seen so many squares! My wife and I always leave the bathroom door open. We did this even when we were dating. I guess we are more familiar with each others bodies than most of you will ever be. Some of you people need to relax and not worry so much about using the bathroom. You all must lead a boring sex life if this small stuff grosses you out.


April 15th, 2009
10:43 am

I don’t think I’d like the open bathroom idea. Not so much about the privacy issue, but like one poster mentioned I hate having the light turned on while I am asleep in bed and being awaken. I can go in the middle of the night without the lights, but my hubby needs the light. I finally got him to install a dimmer switch in the bathroom so when he needs to turn in on it is not so bright.

Off Topic – my new hubby ended up in the hospital the thursday after we got married for bronchisit. We ended up staying there for the weekend, talk about a romantic honeymoon ;~) Then I ended up sick from being exposed to all the germs at the hospital. We are finally starting to feel better, he just can’t get over the cough. He leaves next week :-(


April 15th, 2009
11:11 am

Sometimes I travel with friends and share a room; on occasion I have traveled with coworkers of the same gender and shared a room. A see-through bathroom in situations like that would be very, very awkward!


April 15th, 2009
11:23 am

Xynox: I don’t think the people on here are prudes, but the smells that come from the bathrooms are not pleasant and the views are NOT scenic. I think your idea that you are more comfortable is fine, but I don’t think it is accurate. As far as the shower goes, I think cleaning one’s body should be private – it isn’t “dirty,” but I like to leave a little bit of sexy to the imagination. When the hubby is in there with me, we are not cleaning, but getting down and dirty!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 15th, 2009
11:34 am

Lm — that’s terrible!!! Didn’t he have to leave to go someplace also??? or was that someone else???


April 15th, 2009
11:37 am

I think there should be walls between the bathroom and bedroom, however inside the bathroom a see through shower would be a cool idea. Or at the very least a way to cover the see through walls from inside the bathroom, if need be. A see through area to a toilet is just gross. Seeing someone showering is much different them seing someone use the bathroom. Eww


April 15th, 2009
11:39 am

We stayed in a hotel in seattle that had this same set up. At first I thought it was odd but we came away from the trip pregnant with our first child (who is now 1) so I guess it wasn’t that bad.


April 15th, 2009
11:47 am

There are just some things that should be private. Showering is one thing but sitting down is another. Next thing you know they’ll install cameras inside the toilet bowl.


April 15th, 2009
11:51 am

I’m not sure what the big deal is. They’ve said the bathroom is somewhat private with frosted glass… Do you need 4 thick, painted walls to use the bathroom? The shower is glass and there are blinds that you can close so if you were off with the family you could still close the blinds! I for one wouldn’t mind having this kind of shower in my house. I think its really nice. But thats my opinion and everyone is entitled to theirs!


April 15th, 2009
11:53 am

My wife and I moved a few years ago and now have a master suite with 2 completely seperate bathrooms. She has one with comode, sink, shower and tub. Mine has a comode shower and sink. We will never be able to share a bathroom again, open or not.


April 15th, 2009
12:00 pm

I noticed that the vast majority of negative responses about bathrooms are from women. You ladies should feel so lucky. When I was in high school and college the men’s bathrooms were all open (no stall doors and no dividers at the urinals) and the showers consisted of one room with about 10 to 12 shower heads around the room. We all had to learn to pee and take showers together. Now – If I can do that with a bunch of guys (many that were not necessarily friends), how come you can’t do this with your spouse?


April 15th, 2009
12:13 pm

I agree with others, but not because I am a “square”. I am with Theresa’s hubby. The bathroom is the only room that is the “Fortress of Solitude”. I’m okay with the inside of the bathroom being glassed in, but give me a wall and a solid door to separate it. Hotels are already close quarters- no need to make them that close!


April 15th, 2009
12:18 pm

Xynox, we are the same way..Neither one of us ever shuts the door while we are in the bathroom..It’s been that way for 16 years now, so guess we’ll survive..As for nudity, my grandkids have seen both of us naked..We just don’t make that big of a deal out of it..No, I don’t have a perfect body, but I’m comfortable with it..


April 15th, 2009
12:31 pm

I have a huge johnson so I wouldn’t be bothered.

Jesse's Girl

April 15th, 2009
12:52 pm



April 15th, 2009
12:52 pm

What a STUPID idea.


April 15th, 2009
12:56 pm

Nothing like seeing your better half sqint, grunt and hear the plop. Yeah, can’t wait.


April 15th, 2009
1:02 pm

prudes, get over it – especially when it’s your s.o.
everybody has to use it and it all smells the same – unless your sick and on meds or eat alot of red meat/pork

Big Grant

April 15th, 2009
1:03 pm

I don’t have a problem with it….in the hotels you discussed and the hotels discussed in the NYTimes the toilets are hidden by vanity’s and other items. The human body is beautiful. If the Southern Baptist had there way in Atlanta…we would all dress like muslims.

Jesse's Girl

April 15th, 2009
1:08 pm

I’m no prude….nekkidness is my fave!! But when you are a mother and have children at your ankles or trying to pick your pockets day in and day out…God love em’….then you want just a bit of privacy when nature calls.


April 15th, 2009
1:11 pm

I’m amazed by the number of people who say they’ve never seen their significant other in the bathroom. Not that I’m advocating it or anything but it’s just weird. Especially the folks who’ve been married for years.


April 15th, 2009
1:17 pm

Well to answer the question as it is posed…….is it ok for FAMILIES? My answer would be, in my case, yes.

Family as in mom, dad, and kids. Depending on the age of the kids. If they are little, younger than 10, ok. But older, no. However, the bathroom door is rarely closed in my house. Only if you need to be in there a little longer…..but I have my bathroom and my daughter has hers. There’s only two of us and we are both girls, so no big deal here.

But I travel A LOT with my Mom, brother and nieces, and NO I would not want to see any of them doing their thing in the bathroom……however, if we were informed, we would probably seek another hotel.

But I’m with Jessie’s Girl…….nekkedness RULES!!!!


April 15th, 2009
1:20 pm

Having stayed in one of those hotels in Atlanta, with my mom, we were very glad the hotel provided robes, which we promptly hung up over the glass shower wall………the need for a fortress of solitude is RIGHT…….

It does, however, make us laugh every time we talk about that weekend………


April 15th, 2009
1:26 pm

Once after finishing a run, the hotel maid got my door open a little ways and may have caught a glimpse while I was butt naked cooling down in front of the TV. I called the front desk clerk yelling about it, and then I realized, it probably was a very distasteful thing for the maid to have to witness, so I got over it.


April 15th, 2009
1:36 pm

I think that a hotel experience should be more than what you have at home. It should be something that you possibly would not experience anywhere else. Open walls won’t work at home, but for a weekend…heck yeah.

Also, for those mothers who say bathroom “activities” are personal and smelly, ask your husband “how much did we share during childbirth…talk about gross.” :)