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Co-ed Bathrooms/Sink areas in mid-range to upscale restaurants? Why?

I had lunch the other day at a mid-range restaurant. The sink area was co-ed. I was UNimpressed.

Two days later I had dinner at an upscale hotel restaurant (The Palomar in San Diego). The entire bathroom and sink area was co-ed. Not only was I unimpressed, but I was completely horrified.

When I excuse myself to go to the ladies room, I do not care to primp, apply lipgloss and brush my hair in the company of strange men. Is this a new trend? Did I miss the memo?

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  1. Oh.... YUCK!!!!!

    Why, oh WHY would they adhere to the bare minimum of the law?????

    1. Been more and more common in really trendy nightclubs, guess it's making its way to trendy restaurants too.

      1. Lots of places outside the US have co-ed bathroom facilities -- as in you walk in the door, and the guys are standing at the urinal (with a room divider) when you walk in. (never freaked me out, other than a momentary "oh, I've walked in the wrong door")

        Most public toilets outside the US have unisex handwash facilities.

        am guessing most adult men have seen a woman apply lipstick, wash her hands, or brush her hair.

        1 Reply
        1. re: sunshine842

          Certainly very common in Spain for their to be only a single toilet in small bars and the like. That doesnt bother me. However, for reasons I can't really explain, the increasing trend for there to be uni-sex toilet facilities, with several adjacent cubicles, does bother me somewhat. Dunno why, I just feel uncomfortable - no doubt it's a generation thing

        2. It has been a growing trend because people who design and/or operate public spaces, including bar owners and restaurateurs find it more efficient to comply with absurd local building ordinances / judicial interpretations of the equal rights amendment by having co-ed sinks or completely co-ed bathrooms. The difference between equal floor space and equal access to facilities.

          It solves two problems, one being the over-allocation of space to bathrooms. e.g. if you only needed 6 toilet/urinal facilities between men and women, 1 being handicapped sized and 2 being urinals, the rest being regular sized toilets, but have to set aside space for two bathrooms, one with 4 toilets for the women, one being handicapped sized and one with 2 toilets, one being handicapped sized and two urinals.)

          The second problem of inefficient allocation of space it solves is where you can often find the toilets in the Men's room unused while there is a long line for the Ladies' facilities.

          There is a social problem, because some people like you prefer to not co-mingle between sexes in bathrooms. It's not just a social "ick" factor, bathrooms have also socially evolved to be used by both men and women as a "refuge" from each other, or to congregate, and sometimes to talk about each other.

          3 Replies
          1. re: khuzdul

            I was amazed when first I discovered that some of the nicer women's restrooms had comfy sofas and live flower arrangements. Whereas the 'nicer' men's restrooms simply didn't keep the roll of TP on the floor tile beside the toilet...

            1. re: silence9

              There's an old and storied men's club in Philadelphia whose ladies rooms not only have flowers, but each stall has its own upholsterd bench to lie down on. Of course, these were built for the Victorian women who only entered the club on great occasions like balls.

              1. re: silence9

                One of my regular road trip pit stops has lovely decorations in the women's restroom. The gas stations is a little run down, as rural gas stations tend to be, but the women's restroom is clean and they have decorative art and even an artificial ficus. One day I stopped by and the women's room was occupied. The occupant was taking a long time, and the men's room was vacant, so I went for it. Big mistake. Stinky, dirty, and no art!

            2. I'm okay with the handwash area I just don't want women watching me at the urinal because it might give me performance anxiety.

              2 Replies
              1. re: redfish62

                That would be peeformance anxiety

                1. re: Bkeats

                  We need a like button here!!!!!

              2. I don't mind a coed sink area or a unisex single stall restroom but sharing a toilet area with men, especially those using open urinals, is off putting. I wouldn't return to a restaurant that did that.

                1 Reply
                1. I frankly never have been able to wrap my head around the fact that men are expected to pee in company. But that's not something to be solved in this thread.

                  I've noticed the unisex bathroom (one stall w/sink) trend mostly in NYC, harbinger of All That Is Trendy, but Berlin seems to be catching up as well. Meh.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: linguafood

                    And some of us (although not me) have difficulty doing so, lingua. It is a recognised medical condition - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paruresis

                    1. re: linguafood

                      Oh God, Lingua, I have to tell you this story. My husband and I were in a cafe in Paris when we decided to use the restrooms before hitting the streets again. There were two lines, one for men and one for women. We each got in the correct line. At the end of the female line there was a door into a little bathroom. At the end of the male line there was a urinal, right out in the cafe, and it was surrounded by mirrors that multiplied the image of the person using the urinal. I glanced over and there was my husband x 6 or 8, all of them peeing in public. And this was not unique in Paris. After six weeks in France my husband said he doubted he'd be able to pee any more unless he had an audience.

                    2. I had an incident occur with me lately while at a great restaurant in Croatia. I went into one of these unisex washroom stalls. I heard someone enter the room and when I walked out there was a man doing his thing at the urinal which was en route to the sink. We were surprised to see each other. But the most surprising thing of all was noticing the faint Croatian word for "man" barely discernible on the door as I was leaving...no wonder the poor man seemed askance! Of course he happened to be sitting behind us at the restaurant so I had to walk past him to our table. My husband thought it was quite humorous. Slightly embarassing but I had been in many unisex bathroooms before and just thought this was the same thing! Having seen pretty much everything happen in public in Europe this blunder of mine was pretty tame.

                      1. Been going on for a long time. More common is the unisex bathroom. Men and women standing in the same line to use the facilities. As a guy, I think we lose since the old men's room line went much faster. Now everyone just waits longer.

                        1. Just had a flashback to the '90s. I can't remember the name of it now, but there was this club which later turned into a restaurant/bar in a hotel in the west 30s or 40 in NYC that had a pissing wall in the men's room. Water poured down this wall from the ceiling and was used a giant communal urinal.

                          1. Years upon years ago my bride and me visited The Grenadier in London for dinner. It's said to have been the Mess for the barracks of the soldiers assigned to Horatio Lord Nelson. The mens facility is in the basement of the small space. The urinal is a barely discernable trough in the floor which exits out of the building through a small grate in the stone wall. Can't imagine this wash room as anything but a mens room!


                            1. Im guessing that they were squeezing a new restaurant into an existing space. With the amount of renovation they were doing they were required to renovate the bathrooms, which meant making them accessible. Two accessible multi-fixture toilet rooms take quite a bit of space and building codes do not allow a single occupant accessible room separate from other facilities (separate but equal is not valid for accessibility either.) And of course there are cost savings. I think it is the way of things to come, especially in smaller businesses, regardless of price range. Many places won't allow co-ed facilities where disrobing or partial disrobing takes place, but the lav/sink area would be exempt from that regulation.

                              1. I know you (and the others using it) don't mean co-ed.

                                At 56 I am not learning when in the restroom.

                                Uni-sex restrooms have been on the march in the US for maybe 20 years.

                                1 Reply
                                1. Never seen this. Been to nice places where they were unisex, but they were single occupancy, so there was no concurrent sharing.

                                  1. I haven't had the experience at a restaurant or bar, but in college I had no issue with using the men's room while males were present. However for the most part I knew/recognized all the males on my campus, so I know that it is not the same as a bar or restaurant.

                                    Recently I stayed at a hotel where the lobby bathroom had one way mirrors over the sinks allowing men to look into the women's bathroom. There was a small sign by the women's entrance saying "you aren't the only one checking yourself out" with a warning (also telling you that the closest conventional bathroom was located on the 6th floor). And a small sign in the male's bathroom saying "after checking her out, why don't you meet at the bar for a drink". It was awkward.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: viperlush

                                      we used to commandeer the stalls in the men's room, too.

                                      The one-way mirror thing is disturbing and sounds like an invitation for a lawsuit.

                                      Having a community hand-wash facility is extremely common in old buildings constructed long before anyone ever thought about zoning, access, potty parity....or even indoor plumbing. There's room for two stalls and a sink, but not two stalls and two sinks. And it's no biggie.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        Yeah, it was weird. But it wouldn't have bothered me if it was just glass and I could see in the men's room, just didn't like that I couldn't tell if someone was watching. This hotel had an interesting idea of privacy when it can to bathrooms. The bathroom the hotel room had a window into the room. I guess so you could watch someone shower? Converse while sitting on toilet? Even BF (of 13 yrs) thought it was a little uncomfortable.

                                    2. I have heard of this in gay-lesbian clubs, but not in restaurants or other clubs.

                                      1. Hate it..
                                        I don't want to be putting on my lip gloss while the guy next to me is arranging his junk..

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. I don't like unisex bathrooms or shared sinks. I don't want to watch the men who pass the sink by after using the urinal!

                                          19 Replies
                                          1. re: monavano

                                            because it's so much more pleasant watching the women walk by without washing their hands.

                                            Just sayin'.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              It's not pleasant watching either but I can say without any uncertainty that I can count the number of times I've seen a woman walk out of a bathroom without washing on one hand and still have fingers left over.
                                              Men do not wash as much as women. This is fact.
                                              Go stand outside of the men's room at any football stadium and shaking about 20 men's hands and then tell me you don't want to run and scrub away!
                                              It's gross. I wouldn't shake one.
                                              Sorry guys.

                                              1. re: monavano

                                                I don't get the problem is that their hands have germs on them? I don't wash my hands after I touch my nose or my ears.

                                                I always thought the rule was if you go into a stall you have to wash your hands, just using the urinal then washing is optional.

                                                1. re: redfish62

                                                  Ben and Jerry's "Schweddy balls" ice cream notwithstanding :) ....I think most people are squicked out by the thought of a strangers genitals and their food being associated in any way. I bet most people would be grossed out having you touch your genitals, then shake their hand, serve them food, touch their food, or give them a bite of something with your fingers. It is not just about the "volume" of germs.

                                                  1. re: sedimental

                                                    Yeah that's why I wash my hands if there are other people in the restroom, and I pretend to to wash my hands every single time, but really if I'm the only one there and all I did was take a leak, I don't wash, because there is no reason to believe taking a leak resulted in bacterial infection of my hands.

                                                    I figure what people don't know won't hurt them.

                                                    1. re: redfish62

                                                      Your honesty is refreshing. Also, somewhat gross. Are you, by chance, my 11 year old son?

                                                      1. re: tcamp

                                                        I might as well be, most guys are pretty much the same, regardless of age.

                                                        1. re: tcamp

                                                          depends on personal hygiene....in all public restrooms, my johnson is cleanest thing in there....not that I'm supporting not washing hands

                                                          1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                            That's how I figure it, no reason to think it has more bacteria on it than my ears or my nose, if anything it has LESS bacteria on it because men don't take any chances with that part of their anatomy.

                                                            I can understand fear of bacteria transmission or a virus transmission but really there isn't any risk there.

                                                            The EWW GROSS factor just isn't rational.

                                                            1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                                              Amen to that. I love a men's room with the offset, doorless, entry and auto flushing urinals. The only things I have to touch belong to me and I'm fully confident that my zipper pull and penis ( johnson, weiner, peter and "John Henry" are all preferable euphemisms) are both sanitary.

                                                              1. re: kengk

                                                                See, this is exactly why men and women should not share the restroom! LOL

                                                                Most women consider this gross. It is not about being "rational", it is about being gross.

                                                                I might kiss my lovers mouth, but I don't want them spitting in my soup. I have changed my daughters diapers and handled the mess, but I now that she is 28, I don't want to touch her turds. Not rational? Some things are just gross no matter how you try to "rationalize" it.

                                                                1. re: sedimental

                                                                  Well that's your problem, but the next time you shake hands with a man you should consider that he may have touched his tallywacker without washing his hands afterwards.

                                                    2. re: monavano

                                                      Reminds me of an old joke. Pick your own names of favorite colleges to fill in the blanks.

                                                      3 college age guys go into a restroom. Two of them go to use the urinals. The third stands in front of the mirror and combs his hair. The first guy leaves the urinal and begins to walk out. The second guy at the urinal say at University of _____, they teach us to wash our hand after taking a p__s. The first guy responds at University of _____, the teach us not to p__s all over our hands. The third guy says at University of ____, they teach us not to p__s.

                                                      1. re: monavano

                                                        sorry monavano, one of my first jobs was working at an ice rink. part of the job was cleaning up the restrooms after the rink closed. mens rooms were generally neat, yes some cigarette butts in the urinals, some paper towels wadded up that 'missed the basket'. But the women's rooms were disgusting. most toilets unflushed, a storm of toilet paper, paper towels, seat covers, etc. everywhere including wadded up in the sink. Not a once in a while thing, but every single day. Women are not inherently neater than men.

                                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                          Agreed. I've been in some down right nasty women's rooms in bars and gas stations. A couple of times I have ducked into the men's room the next time, and it was fine, so it wasn't simply a problem of poor housekeeping, I've even been in a Barnes and Noble bathroom that was so gross I had to turn around and walk out rather than use it. Also, regarding women washing their hands. I certainly could not count on both hands the number of times people have left the rest room without washing their hands. I've never had someone walk right by me with out doing it, it's always been when I'm in a stall. I think it's simply a matter that women realize it's gross to not wash their hands, and aren't willing to do it if someone else will see them.

                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                            Ah, the old adage of the Disgusting Ladies Room.

                                                            Funny how this is generally perpetuated by men. As a woman, I feel that I likely have more experience in ladies rooms than you (and likely less in men's restrooms, though I've had my share), and haven't experienced either to be particularly nasty, save for the rare exceptions.

                                                            None of these experiences lead me to generalize about the state of women's or men's neatness.

                                                            Though I dare guess more women wash their hands after than men. Huh.

                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                              an adage is one thing, first hand experience is another. until i started working at the rink, i hadn't been in a ladies room since i learned to zip up my own pants. i was stunned and amazed. i suspect you are right that more men don't wash their hands, but i doubt the difference is as large as you imagine, the vast majority of men at least do a quick rinse even when they just use the urinal.

                                                          2. re: monavano

                                                            I wash my hands BEFORE I use the urinal. I only allow clean hands to come in contact with my stuff:)

                                                      2. Back in the olden days I always had a certain admiration for girls that had the nerve to duck into the men's room at concerts to pee because the line was shorter.

                                                        The older I get the the less use I have for modesty. I frequently wish I could just go where everybody else is letting their dogs go. Really need to get my prostate examined.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                          1. re: kengk

                                                            I did that at the Rolling Stones' Steel Wheels concert at Foxboro, MA. Ladies room line was 4x longer than the Men's room (non-existent), so I and a friend went over to their doorway, I asked a guy coming out if there were any stalls with doors that were available, he went back in to check and then came out and said "Yes. Are you going in? I gotta watch this!" And followed us in.

                                                            As we walked in, I hollered out "Women coming in - hide your weiners!" and into the stalls we went. We did our business while a couple of the guys in there either laughed and one hollered back rather drunkenly "Ladies, you gotz some big balls!" Upon exiting the stalls, the guys who weren't in the bathroom when we initially walked in looked shocked. I said "WHAT? We had to pee worse than you guys did and I'm not waiting for 20 minutes in the Ladies room line!" Washed our hands and walked out. Several women who were on the Ladies Room line saw us walk in and out within a few minutes and said "I'm going to do that too!" (They hadn't moved but maybe 6 feet along.)

                                                            Now, however, I've heard they station guards near the Gillette Stadium bathrooms to prevent cross-use of the Mens rooms. :-/

                                                            But to do that on a regular basis in an actual co-ed bathroom? Put me in the "no thanks" camp. There's a restaurant I frequent which, while it has designated single-user men's room and ladies' room, it's become such that women and men use the two bathrooms interchangeably, as the lines would get too long in the cramped alcove where the bathrooms are located.

                                                            1. Well, judging by the responses here I DID miss the memo.

                                                              I'll have to plant myself firmly in the "no men in the ladies room" camp.

                                                              1. I guess I missed the memo too. Not my old fashioned cup of tea. Thank goodness we mainly stay in nowadays..:-)

                                                                1. a trendy, supposedly hip, cheeky thing, that shows us how way cool the owners are. I enjoy peeing with the wimmens, but that's me....I guess the owners like it too

                                                                  1. Sounds like a great way to socialize and meet women.

                                                                    1. I as the mom always took on bathroom duty when we were out with our little boy, bringing him into the ladies room with me. As he got bigger, I decided it was time for him to use the men's room. The first time he did so, he came out in shock, went right into the ladies room and washed his hands, with soap. It must have been pretty filthy to gross out a seven year old.