A recent business trip brought to mind one of the most baffling concepts we’ve had to consider while traveling:
Why do so many hotels have telephones in their bathrooms?
Update: We got an answer to the question! See the end of this post.
The hotel we stayed in this week had a washroom in the entryway and the full bath, and both toilets had handy wall-mounted corded telephones. This was in addition to the bedside phone and the desk phone.
We can understand a television or a music player, especially with a luxurious bathtub to relax in after a long day of work or sightseeing.
We can almost understand a charging port for a phone or tablet, although we wouldn’t necessarily want an expensive mobile device connected to power in close proximity to a toilet or shower.
We could even accept a speakerphone, for those romantic nights whispering “no, you hang up” when you’re apart from your beloved, or when you need to learn what your children have done with the dog in your absence.
But the thought of the toilet phone is just downright disturbing. Is it just us?
Even if the phone is cleaned regularly, you never know who’s done what in there, and if it’s not sanitized between every guest, do you really want that appliance that’s 2-3 feet from the toilet touching your face?
And while our last hotel did not have this anachronistic feature, we’ve seen some hotel toilet-phones with modem jacks. We’ll admit to taking a cell phone in to keep those social games going or read Twitter or our blog comments, but we’ve never thought “hey, I need to dial into Compuserve while I’m on the toilet.”
This one we really want to hear from you about. Have you seen phones in the hotel washrooms you’ve been in recently? And when was the last time you used one of them?
As an aside, we could see the need to get help if one had an incident in the bath… but in those cases, having the phone as far from the tub or shower as possible, while good for protection from water damage, seems counterproductive. Maybe retrofit the phones with intercom functionality or a simple call button?
Whoa, an answer?
Update: Shortly after posting this, we heard from our friend Howard Marks of Deep Storage who had a logical and accurate answer. Here it is (expanded a bit; any details and links are not his fault).
The American Automobile Association and affiliated clubs have a well-known Diamond Rating system that has been operational since 1976. Until recently, the standard for a 4-Diamond or 5-Diamond rating included a specification that there would be a telephone in the bathroom. We found this in a version of the guidelines posted on the Canadian Auto Association Quebec website.
This requirement is a qualification for 4-Diamond status, and 4-Diamond criteria are a prerequisite for 5-Diamond.
A newer version of the guidelines was posted in April 2018 and appears to adapt for the changes in technology. There is no mention of a phone in the bathroom section at all. In fact, even the guest room descriptions no longer mention telephones (but they do mention USB charging ports from the 3-Diamond level up).
It’s unlikely that hotels will rip out the phones even if they are no longer required for this status, but I would guess that new properties being built to these aspirations will be less likely to be littered with telephones.