A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about your holiday.
I've written before about the alarming modern trend of hotel bathroom doors that don't quite shut. The example I used was of a sliding door in a brand new, otherwise excellent, New Zealand hotel. Everything about the room was grand except that the door — by design — left a gap of about 3cm. I think this was for ease of sliding, though I've traditionally found handles to be quite effective.
The reason I bring this trauma up again is that I was contacted by a reader who'd stayed in a luxury hotel in Italy that trumped my yarn spectacularly: forget a non-closing toilet door, there was no door at all! Surely not!
Well, I now believe that person. Recently my wife and I were staying in Malaysia's genuinely stunning Perhentian Islands. "Stunning" is an easy word to throw around as a travel writer, but these two islands in the northeast of the Malay Peninsula are so perfect in their water clarity, the whiteness of the sand and the beauty of the jungle that I don't care whether "stunning" is a lazy cliche.
At least I haven't described the waters as being azure … though come to think of it …
Our property was pretty stunning too. Staying at, yes, an Italian-run boutique resort, we had our own private villa and garden. With high walls and an outdoor shower amid all the tropical plants, there was an Adam and Eve-like vibe that was equal parts beautiful, randy and funny. I take that back. It was probably closer to 75 per cent beautiful and then 15 per cent randy, 10 per cent funny. Still, that's a notably high and significant randy and funny percentage.
Inside the villa, there was a day bed for reading in the blessed air-conditioning while still enjoying views of the private garden. The main bed was king size and there was an open shower (with views to the garden) on one side of the vanity and yikes (!), an open toilet on the other.
Granted, there was a floor to ceiling headboard that mostly partitioned off the bedroom from the bathroom area. But if you were sitting doing your thing on the sideways-positioned toilet, the only thing protecting your privacy was the semi semblance of a wall; a wall that still left your knees and feet visibly exposed to your partner.
Yes, it's only your partner, so who cares? Well, I'm fairly certain every partner outside Italy cares! And maybe even most Italians — I hope so. Because it doesn't matter how much you love someone, no amount of besotted-ness extends to enjoying the noises and odours (and partial visions) of their ablutions.
Somewhere along the line, the oh-so-trendy designers (Italian or otherwise) of modern hotel rooms decided it was erotic-chic to do away with proper doors for bathrooms. No.
It's simple: A toilet without a fully closing door is like a toilet without a flush. Showers enclosed only by high walls and plants can give rise to the desired romantic feelings, but any hotel manager who thinks toilets go hand in hand with love and lust is mightily confused about the realities of the human body.
Room Boy in Sri Lanka
"Hello, I'm your room boy!" These were the words of introduction from a grown man during our recent Sri Lankan holiday. We were staying at a gorgeous resort in the Habarana region. Our "room boy" was a sweet soul I guessed to be mid-30s. He was on hand to clean our cottage as well as deliver any food, drinks or amenities we required. But it broke my heart he referred to himself as "room boy".
In America pre the Civil Rights era, it wasn't uncommon for white people to call grown black men "boy" as a not-so-subtle way of showing their respective places in society. Our hotel staff member may have meant little by it, but there'll never come a day I'll demean another man by calling him "boy".
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB's Weekend Collective and blogs at RoxboroghReport.com.