Archive for the 'London' Category

Photo Feature: Arosfa Hotel

Posted in London on December 6th, 2005 by jcn

Arosfa Hotel Ensuite

We’ve never actually stayed at a hostel before, but we recently learned from the New York Times that the hostels of today are no longer the room-sharing, toilet down the hall adventures that they once were. Many of them even offer private ensuite accommodations, which makes us wonder what makes a hostel and different than a sans-“s” hotel. Regardless, on our last visit to London, damned if we were going to stay somewhere that required a trek out of the room at 2am to visit the loo and so “ensuite” was our keyword of choice. Wanting to be fairly central, we discovered the Arosfa hotel, a smartly appointed hotel on Gower Street that struck us as neither overly generous in its amenities nor overly stingy (I believe that the “full English” breakfast was on all occasions missing at least one ingredient that would have brought it up to the level of being a “full” English as opposed to, say, merely toast, tomato and eggs; also, there was no Internet to be found at all on the premises; but there was a breakfast involved and the entire building was immaculate).

True to its advertisement, the room we got (on the top floor no less) did feature private facilities, but the true marvel was the engineering required to deliver the room with a full shower, toilet and sink all in a space smaller than 5′ square. The shower was designed such that we had to turn the water on with the shower head pointing at the wall, lest the spray from the nozzle soak the entire room. Once the temperature was to our liking we were to step into the shower area, pull the curtain around us, and only then swivel the shower head into position.

The toilet itself was situated in such a way that our knees pushed up against the bathroom door when it was closed, which made for a rather distracting experience, and which required us on several occasions to use the loo with the door ajar. This in itself was something of an adventure for to get the plumbing in place for this loo-in-a-box, the entire unit was placed about a foot off the floor, which gave us the feeling of relieving ourselves from a very, very high place.

While it was not the most comfortable hotel bathroom experience we could have had, it continues to give us much joy in discussions of it as an engineering marvel, and for that we can do nothing but whole heartedly recommend it for all London-bound travelers.

Wagamama – Leicester Square, WC1

Posted in London on May 24th, 2003 by hotwater

This loo is falling apart.

Tasty food, cheap food and attractive waitstaff are the reasons we love Wagamama. But with long lines, big bowls of soup and free green tea, the loos in this joint take on a new level of importance. Like the many other Wagamama restaurants in London, the Leicester Square location has simple and sleek design. However, when this loo-goer went to check out the facilities she was shocked to be confronted with a disgusting mess. No paper was available, it took a good 5 minutes before the automatic sinks would recognize her existence and most frightening of all, the ceiling looked brown and waterlogged, threatening to collapse at any moment. Needless to say, this stressful episode put a bit of a damper on my similarly brown and waterlogged buckwheat noodles.

Taja – Whitechapel Road, E1

Posted in London on May 24th, 2003 by hotwater

This loo smells like curry.

Erected in 1893, says the White Chapel Works stone outside of the trendy Taja curry house. This little Indian restaurant is in a building that actually once was a public lavatory. Now, however, it exists as a psychedelically painted restaurant that stands oddly away from the main strip of stores and close to the street. The inside of this old loo has been gutted and redesigned. There is room only for a couple of tables and thankfully the open kitchen area allows you to see most of your food being prepared. What is lacking in food quality is made up for by the odd sensation of knowing you are dining in style where almost a century of Englishmen have come to relieve themselves. That, and venturing to the loo within a loo, which is more than satisfactory with nice smelling soap and pleasant d├ęcor.

Busaba eathai – Wardour Street, W1

Posted in London on May 24th, 2003 by hotwater

This loo is posessed.

There was something wrong in the busaba eathai loo the day I was there. The automatic faucets in the sink were turning on and off of their own accord, shooting irregular bursts of water into the too general direction of the basin and when I arrived a woman in her 30’s was cringing in the corner.

“This loo’s crazy,” she muttered as I tried the first stall.

The door was extremely heavy and at first I thought the stall was occupied. I persisted, however, and slowly the door opened.

Wide-eyed, the woman said “Blimey[sic], I thought they were all full…for so… long…”

I had to switch to another stall, this time with paper, and rushed to get out of the tomb-like space as fast as possible. When I came out, the faucets were silent. There was plenty of soap and the rest of my loo experience was uneventful. As I mounted the stairs back to my pumpkin curry, I could hear a man’s surprised exclamation and a woman’s apologetic panic. The ladies’ is the first door on the left.

The Providores and Tapa Room – Marylebone High Street, W1

Posted in London on May 24th, 2003 by jcn

Entering the gents at The Providores and Tapa Room is to find an establishment that truly appreciates its loos. Dark walls give way to a gleaming porcelain urinal resting on the wall, a single spotlight trained down upon it. One can not help but take pause and admire the simplicity of the loo, sinks on the left with space enough for someone to wash while another is relieving himself, with this vision of plumbing as the focus of the room. Caution must be taken when actually utilizing the facilities, however, as the moment one approaches the urinal, he will cast his own shadow over it, severly hindering the usefulness of the illumniation.

Those uncomfortable without full visibility might consider using the stall instead.