The modern hotel caters to guests from all walks of life. Unisex bathrooms which cater to all users – including men, women and transgender people – can help make your hotel a fairer, more inclusive place. In this article, we’ll talk about the installation of unisex bathrooms and show you how they could even save you money – but first, let’s examine why unisex bathrooms are so popular in the first place.
Why unisex bathrooms?
Believe it or not, traditional bathroom design has always been stacked against women. Men’s and women’s bathrooms are almost always the same size, but women take a longer time to use the facilities, meaning that queues for the ladies’ room are an all too a frequent sight in hotels across the UK.
But why do women take a longer time? Well, for one thing, women don’t have the option of using a time-saving urinal like men do. Their clothing – such as tights and skirts – also takes a longer time to remove.
And, to complicate matters further, women don’t just take a longer time to use the loo: they also need to do so more often. This is because, generally speaking, women have smaller bladders than men, and they also have periods.
So what can we do about this unfair situation? The obvious solution would be – yes, you guessed it – the unisex bathroom. In the traditional model, stalls in the men’s room go underutilised while queues build up for the ladies’ room; a single, larger washroom that accommodates users of all gender would ensure that all stalls are available for whoever needs them and help bring about so-called ‘potty parity’.
Unisex bathrooms would also be a great way of making life easier for transgender people. For those who identify with their biologically assigned gender, choosing which bathroom to use is a no-brainer – but for trans people, it can be a daily source of frustration and anxiety. A survey of transgender people in the US found that as many as one in ten had been denied entry to a public toilet in the past year. And sadly, many transgender individuals face abuse – both verbal and physical – at the hands of those who take issue with their choice of bathroom.
Unisex washrooms would kill two birds with one stone by making our hotels more fairer and more inclusive places for women and transgender people. As well as being a morally good thing to do, this can work wonders for your PR, positioning you as a forward-thinking and inclusive brand.
As well as ‘soft’ benefits like these, installing unisex bathrooms can also free up a lot of valuable square footage, which can be put to more profitable uses, such as dining areas or conference rooms – on upper levels, you may even be able to squeeze in another suite.
Because all the stalls in your unisex washroom will potentially be used by women, you would need to install a sanitary towel disposal bin in each cubicle. You may wish to purchase a recessed disposal bin to help save space.
You may also consider installing baby changing facilities. If your bathroom has more than four cubicles, then one of them must be an extra large cubicle for those with disabilities.
A unisex washroom will be considerably larger than a gendered washroom, meaning that you would have more room to install things like freestanding hand washing fountains – or, if you wish to keep costs down, you could also install a communal hand wash trough.
The table below shows how many toilets and washbasins should be installed in your unisex washroom (information from the Health and Safety Executive):
|Number of people||Number of toilets||Number of washbasins|
You can also use this data to work out the dimension of the washroom itself. The recommended dimensions for cubicles are set out in the Building Regulations Part M.
Finally, although you may wish to avoid installing urinals for reasons of privacy, they can help cut down on waiting times. If you do opt for a suite of urinals, you could always install them behind a partial wall in a separate section of the washroom.
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Paul Thorn is the MD of Washware Essentials. Over a career spanning 25 years, he has helped hoteliers across the UK to find their ideal washroom solutions – including unisex bathrooms.