After publishing The World’s Best (and Worst!) Toilets last year, we quickly learned that every traveler has his or her own toilet tale to tell. Responses poured in from readers clamoring to share their own experiences of toilet trauma — from animal encounters to blunders with bidets. Others wrote about the opposite extreme: spacious, beautiful bathrooms complete with luxurious amenities like granite sinks, floor-to-ceiling windows and even dancing toilet seats.
We’ve perused all the stories — the good, the bad and the ugly — and collected the best of the bunch to present you with our sequel to The World’s Best (and Worst!) Toilets.
BEST TOILETS: THE CREAM OF THE CRAP
A Song and Dance While You Pull Down Your Pants
“This past holiday season here in New York City the ‘nice folks at Charmin’ bathroom tissue opened up a place for tourists to go ‘potty.’ They rented out a huge building/storefront in Times Square and totally renovated the interior to include about 25 bathroom stalls. Actually, the stalls were more like mini-rooms — there was a toilet, mirror and personal sink inside. They staffed it, and cleaned each and every mini-bathroom after every single use. Outside you were greeted with folks dressed up as rolls of Charmin toilet tissue — a few poor souls had to dress up as toilet seats.
“There were long lines, so they entertained us! They broke into song, danced and got their captive audience involved in their antics. On the funny side they sometimes would clap loudly when someone exited the bathroom — silly stuff. All in all, it was an excellent ‘potty experience.'” — Up4Travel
But Can the Neighboring Apartments See You?
“One of the most striking restrooms for views and uniqueness is in Hong Kong at the new tower of the Peninsula Hotel, at the night club on the top floor. There is an attendant in both the ladies’ and men’s. There is a 5′ by 9′ sink in the center accessible from all sides with lots of faucets. The attendant is there to help if you need to find the stalls, as they are granite faced and the dividers are so tight they are nearly concealed.
“The urinal stalls are unique. They face floor-to-ceiling windows so that you can look out at neighboring apartments while you pee.” — RestaurantKing
“I’d have to say the cleanest bathroom I’ve ever been to was in Toledo, Spain. It was an automatic toilet that, when you were finished, would lock itself and spray cleaner all over the room. If you don’t mind a little wetness, you can be assured it’s clean!” — mellibug
“Aria” Gonna Use This Toilet?
“The public restrooms in the Sydney Opera House are nearly as beautiful as the building itself. The toilets are standard-issue, but the stall doors are part of an undulating curve of marble-like material, very much in keeping with the bird-like lines of the place. The sinks are simply a long slab of marble slanted toward the wall, with faucets situated over it, draining into a trough and thence into a pipe.” — SheckyGreen
“While visiting Paris with friends, we had just come out of the Cathedral Madeleine and the only bathroom around was an underground facility that looked like the entrance to a train station in New York. I really had to go, so I bid farewell to the folks with me, fearing the worst as I descended the stairs to the dark unknown. But I was shocked to walk into what reminded me of a restroom in a four-star hotel, with a greeter/cleaner who appeared to like her job. Women on the left … men on the right. I was so impressed I insisted my friends come down and meet the ‘caretaker.'” — bobgs
All Hail the Porcelain Gods
“The best: every clean toilet that was reachable when I’ve been ill while traveling. I remember them all with gratitude.” — constanttraveler
WORST TOILETS: “EEW” DE TOILETTE
Waiter, There’s a Fly in My Poop
“I’ve seen so many awful toilets that it’s hard to award a ‘worst.’ That said, the funniest was on the Turkey-Iraq border at a military post in the mountains. My colleague insisted on asking for a toilet, even though I warned him against it. He was pointed to a shack about 100 yards down the mountain and trotted over. He went in and closed the door, and then we heard a loud scream. He came rushing out, looking terrible, and explained that as he approached the hole in the floor, he noticed a large pile of something on it. Suddenly the pile flew into his face (hence the scream) — it was a million flies. I nearly wet my pants on the mountainside laughing.” — constanttraveler
Flush Flood Warning
“In Japan, my husband and I visited a friend whose toilet seat had multiple buttons for heat and bidet. Of course, it was labeled in Japanese. I was unsure how to flush so I began pushing buttons. I hit the button for the bidet. Lo and behold, water started shooting straight up into the air. The floors and rugs were getting soaked, so I began pushing buttons and the water started flowing harder. Just my luck, our friend had no towels so I used almost a whole roll of toilet paper to clean up the mess. When I came out of the bathroom, my clothes and hair were soaked. Our friend is a big jokester so he really had a good laugh at my expense!” — cheechee
Any Port-a-Potty in a Storm
“To truly wrestle with a ‘squatty-potty’ you need to be seven months pregnant and be on a pitching Turkish ferry during a storm. Been there, done that….” — GrannyJ
Reading, Writing and … Restroom Use?
“Do the French still have those large, square, porcelain things in the floors of public restrooms with footrests on either side of a slightly recessed hole? Once perched on the footrests that dictated the spread of your legs, there was peril all around you. You teetered there while twisting and trying to verify you were hitting the hole. What to do with your trousers required the talent of an expert juggler. You had to wad them to the front or rear, depending on your bodily needs; and if it was an outside toilet, as many of them were, and you were wearing a coat of any weight or length, keeping it hoisted and unsoiled at the same time was nearly an impossibility. You were clutching at fabric with your fists, armpits and elbows! I always thought that I was probably going at it all wrong — and that the French might have instruction on how to do it at lower grade levels.” — esurb
Hail to the Chief
“I was doing medical service to the indigenous Mayan people in Guatemala. They had just finished building their new toilet (outhouse) high on stilts. This is a missionary secret … we take medication to constipate ourselves so we won’t have to use the local facilities if it is only for a week. The indigenous cuisine is mostly beans and corn. Diet overrode the medication. I was escorted to be the first one to ‘anoint’ the throne. It wasn’t pretty! When I came out the entire community came out, encircled the new outhouse and gave me a standing ovation.” — atitlan
At Least the View Was Palatial…
“The worst toilet I ever experienced was in Lhasa, Tibet in a small hotel in the Tibetan quarter. It was a trench in the floor that dropped about 10 feet, seemingly had never been cleaned out and stank to high heaven. The only redeeming quality was that it was truly a ‘room with a view’ with an incredible view of the Potala Palace out the window!” — Caitlin’s Mom
Reporting for “Doody”
“My husband is an Army Reservist, and on a recent training trip his unit encountered something I don’t think anyone had ever encountered before. Open showers are normal for military accommodations, but they had never seen open toilets before. In one room six toilets were lined up along one wall with only one roll of toilet paper to pass around. Lack of modesty is common in the military, but this was to the extreme.” — gwenb
Adding Insult to Injury
“My favorite bathroom tale of all time was when my mom and I were traveling in France back in 1978. She had broken her arm in Venice and they put her in a Minerva cast, which is a cast that stretches from neck to crotch and immobilizes the arm. We were in one of the public museums when she had to go. She called me in to see the bathroom: two footprints and a hole nowhere near a wall where she could lean. Needless to say she wasn’t able to manage this bathroom on her own, so I went in with her and held her pants up off the ground and steadied her while she did her business. We got her clothing straightened out and pulled the chain. A wave of water washed across our feet. We laughed like the idiots I’m sure the people waiting for us thought we were.” — ravenwald13
Is There a Bulk Discount?
“The worst place to use a toilet is Tijuana, Mexico. The toilets there are dirty and disgusting. If you want to use toilet paper you have to pay for it. The girl stands in the bathroom and for 50 cents you get one square of toilet paper. For a dollar you get two. I don’t know ANY woman who can pee and wipe with two squares of a really lousy, low-grade brand of toilet paper. Certainly, if you have the runs (which is common after eating or drinking in Tijuana), you would require the entire roll. I can’t imagine the cost on that one.” — inkling
21st-Century Torture Chamber
“My favorite ‘bad potty’ experience came at no less than the Museum of Pain and Torture in Florence, when after enjoying an enlightening tour of the horrors one might have encountered living in Medici-era Firenze, I felt the urge and asked to use the facilities. The girl who was selling tickets cheerfully stepped out of her little booth, opened a wee door next to it, and removed several mops, brooms and buckets from what had to have been one of the tiniest broom closet/bathroom combos I have ever seen. The narrow basin sink jutted halfway out into the space, and one could dimly see a cramped toilet beyond. Not seeing how I could squeeze my well-fed, 21st-century American gut past the sink, and afraid I’d get stuck if I somehow managed to make it back to the toilet, I decided I could wait after all.” — SheckyGreen
Her Royal Heinie-ness
“We lived in Europe when I was 10 and 11 (schoolteacher parents), and there were some surprises for these California kids. In London, they had those little sheets of folded paper that pull out together, one after the other. In those days, all toilet paper was either paper towel or wax paper consistency. The wax paper had to be wadded up and rubbed back and forth before it would absorb ANYTHING. But the thing that confused this 10-year-old was that each sheet was imprinted with the royal crest and said ‘Property of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.’ Mother told me that we didn’t have to return it to her when we were through, so it was okay.” — helledane
Feeding Time at the Loo
“A friend of mine visited Pakistan a number of years ago. The toilet was behind the house where he was staying, and it was up on stilts. You had to climb a ladder to get in it. It had a seat with a hole just like a U.S. outhouse, but there was a chute running down to the ground from under the hole. Also, there was a club next to the seat.
“When someone got the runs (quite often with the bad water), they would be sitting on the seat for a long time, and the pigs that lived in the backyard would be waiting for their lunch to come down the chute. With the runs, you don’t emit a whole lot, and the pigs would get impatient and run up the chute to bite at your bottom from below the hole. The club was there to stick between your legs and beat back the pigs while you were sitting there suffering.” — monstermash