What’s the deal with glass wall hotel bathrooms?

Reader JB writes:

I am in the newish Park Inn in Sandton Joberg and our room has the ‘open plan’ where I can lie in bed and look into the bathroom.

I have been trying to figure out why they (and a new hotel we stayed at in Arusha, Tanzania last year) have open bathrooms with essentially little to no privacy.

Do you think they are trying to discourage people from room sharing? Like a way to force people who are not intimate to get separate rooms?

It’s not like this brand is the Standard Hotel and they are trying to make things more exciting for their guests.

Hotel Kapok - Typical Room with Glass Wall Bathroom

Hotel Kapok in Beijing, photo by Albert K Law

I have encountered these a number of times, a couple years ago these were the rage for hotel redesigns in China, and come to think of it, my room at the Crowne Plaza Roesbank in Johannesburg may have had that feature as well, so South Africa may have bitten the bug, too.

Often there is at least a curtain to pull down for some privacy.

My assumption has been that this is sold on gullible hotel managers trying to appear boutique-y. Though as I think it over, it probably saves a fair amount on construction cost, cleaning and maintenance, sort of like glass-topped tables that vex optical mice.

Readers, your thoughts and (family-friendly) stories?

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  • Noah Kimmel

    First, I dont like the trend, and I think its weird and not really customer-friendly (as it makes it difficult to share rooms, and lets be honest, who wants to stare at a toilet).

    however, I do think that it makes the room seem bigger and brighter. Perhaps this is why it is done. Glass is also thinner than drywall.

  • Anders

    As a lone business traveler, I enjoyed the possibility to stand in the shower in the morning and watch news on the TV in the living room at the same time. A hotel in Frankfurt stands out but unfortunately I can’t remember its name.

  • Richard

    Our hotel in Paris this week was like this. The bathroom was immediately behind the bed. Perhaps most annoying was that once the “bathroom” was lit up, so was the “bedroom” and it was impossible to sleep with the lights on right over your head.

    No problem with the toilet though – it was across the hall in a closet all its own.

  • Troy

    Looks great – not sure that it would be easy to keep clean though. I know in my shower is the glass that always looks dirty, the tiles generally look clean.

  • Rosalie

    The Radisson Blu in Leipzig has this “feature”. I stayed in a few years back as a solo traveler so it was not an issue. HOWEVER I am taking my teenage grandson on a trip through the former DDR next spring and we will stay in another hotel in Leipzig.

    So far I have only stayed in one Park Inn, I will have to check on this when traveling with others. BAD TREND in my opinion.

  • I’ve seen this at a lot of Club Carlson hotels. It is just another reason for me to stop going to Club Carlson hotels, no matter what their promotions are like.

  • Teanuts

    As someone who travels with family a lot (aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, grandparents, etc), it is a real problem. We’ve encountered this issue several times in China, but fortunately, there were curtains that could be drawn.

  • NB

    When I’m staying in hotels, I far prefer the lightness and airiness of the modern, glass-based, designs. As long as the toilet has privacy, I have no problems with this and indeed prefer it.

  • The Holiday Inn Mumbai Airport was like that. You can see it in the pics here. http://www.holidayinn.com/hotels/us/en/mumbai/bomap/hoteldetail/hotel-room-rates

    It was the first time I had seen this design and I HATED it! Thankfully there was a curtain that could be drawn.

  • srptraveller

    Agree with those who say the driver may be to make the room look bigger.

    I don’t think it works at all for double occupany though, while I love my spouse there is still a tiny list of things I have no desire to share and siting on the pot is on that very very short list

  • David

    I don’t like it, but in places where I’ve seen it, such as the Novotel at Bangkok airport, there is a TV volume control knob in the bathroom, so I suspect it is so you can watch TV from there. Or maybe it’s so housekeeping staff can watch TV from there.

  • Miles

    I have encountered this disappointing trend primarily in Asia. As others have suggested, using the toilet is not something that I particularly care to share with my traveling companion(s).

    If people want to watch TV during their morning procedures, I would prefer that the hotel simply add a small TV in the toilet room.

  • We stayed at a hotel in Malaysia that had a glass bathroom wall and thought it was ridiculous! Perhaps they’re trying to cater to singles? No privacy on the toilet!

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  • Kaustubh Gupta

    I was earlier not aware of this type of see-through bathroom features in the hotel room. The first time I saw this was when I took my newly married wife to our honeymoon. The shower place did not have curtain also. We were supposed to stay in that hotel for 2 nights but my wife insisted that we extend our stay and we ultimately spent 4 nights in that hotel. Unlike others, we enjoyed.

  • @Kaustubh Gupta – that’s delightful!

  • David

    I experienced a glass bathroom wall at the Hilton in Jaipur I also visited the Amber Fort and noticed that the King (of the 1700s) had his own balcony where he could sit with a glass of wine and watch his wives have a bath below in their bathroom Maybe this is the trend setters for partners now to watch each other in the bath as they did in the middle ages?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @David – if even the ’70s and ’80s can make fashion comebacks, why not?