Partial Shower Partitions in Europe: Why?

W hy is it that there are rooms in hotel properties in Europe equipped with a partition which only blocks part of the shower area?

How is someone supposed to shower without spritzing all over the place and causing a big wet mess on the floor in the remainder of the bathroom?

I try and I try. I turn the shower head towards the tiled wall and I try to shower that way. I minimize the mess – but there is still a mess.

As far as placing a bath towel mat on the floor, I pretty much gave up on that as it typically gets soaked — unless I can push it off to the side to keep it relatively dry and yet still reach it with my foot upon exiting the shower.

Perhaps its an insidiously fiendish plot to force guests to clean the floors in the bathroom. Use the bath towel mat — and maybe some other towels — to wipe up the watery floor.

Worse is when the shower head is not adjustable – as in to point it down more, as was the problem with the shower I had this morning…

…and even worse than that is that the water drained slowly — and yes, I did ensure that the drain was open before stepping into the shower area.

Who in the world designed these partial shower partitions, anyway?

Even weirder is that the part of the partial shower partition opened and closed like a door. The opening not partitioned off is already massive enough — is a door really necessary?

Maybe this is simply a matter of style over functionality. I do not believe the style is all that commanding for functionality to take a back seat.

I suppose I just do not understand partial shower partitions; as well as how to properly use them. I must be missing something. If they were complete instead of partial, they would be significantly superior to shower curtains used in hotel bathrooms in the United States.

Would you install one of these things in your bathroom at home without anything else to block wayward water from wandering outside of the bathing area? Not I.

What do you do when you encounter a partial shower partition — besides take a shower, of course?

Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

20 thoughts on “Partial Shower Partitions in Europe: Why?”

  1. Santastico says:

    LOL!!!! Love that!!! Some European designer decided that having just half of the shower protected by glass would be stylish and cool. I guess any hotel housekeeper hates that. I usually take advantage of water pressure in hotels (when there is water pressure) and having that shower design basically floods the entire bathroom. I always place a bath towel on the floor just in case to minimize water running into the bedroom. However, I have to admit I rather prefer to flood the bathroom than have to deal with those nasty shower curtains that you find in most US hotels. I also hate those really low shower heads in US hotels. I am 6ft 1″ and most of the times I have to bend my knees to be able to wash my hair.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      When they created the shower rod which curves out for use in hotel room bathrooms, Santastico, that helped to somewhat alleviate the problem of not being able to avoid the nasty shower curtains.

      It is far from foolproof — but it helps…

  2. Jason says:

    Thank you! I just thought I was just another ignorant American.

  3. Troy says:

    This is a good one!! I Hate that they have it. What a dumb idea. I get bathroom floor wet on purpose so they can come in and mop it up. I dont care. Its a design flaw in my opinion so maybe they will get the hint eventually and fix it!

  4. nat says:

    I have one in each bathtub/shower combo at home. I think they are wider than the one pictured in the article. Have had no problem with the floors getting wet in all the years we have had them. The secret is in the width of the door n the shower. They are much more attractive than the shower curtains I have seen and from my experience much more effective.

  5. BothofUs2 says:

    Thank you for this, I wonder what the true answer is though?! We did a lot of travel this past summer in Europe and saw these in many of the Radisson’s and Park Inn’s we stayed at. Floor got soaked every time, extra towels used for mopping up water so we wouldn’t get our socks wet. I almost thought it was a subtle hint being given to us that we should take a bath instead of shower.

  6. Ed says:

    LOL.. I’ve seen these also. If they really needed to cover only half the shower with a glass door, it should have been the other way around. All the water sprays out from the back half of the shower so the glass pane should have covered that area. The glass door in the photo serves no purpose.

  7. Joseph says:

    Thanks for this thoughtful post. I have been completely baffled by the lack of confinement in many European showers since my first trip to Europe 20+ years ago. At the moment I’m in Berlin where I actually have an excellent shower. This is because I spent hours looking at options Airbnb, making sure there were pictures of the shower, and that it was well confined with a curtain or other partition. In other forums, I have seen a lot of Americans chime in with something along the lines of “shower curtains are gross anyway, and they brush up against you while showering so good riddens”. Okay, I understand that they can be gross, especially if you never clean them in any way, but this “grossness” seems a very small matter to me compared with the nuisance of getting water everywhere in the bathroom every time you shower, which for a lot of people on both continents is every day. So far I don’t think I’ve seen the the “they’re gross” explanation offered by Europeans. There most be some significant cultural difference at play here, and I’ve yet to hear a good explanation. I’d love to hear a European explain why in their minds confinement isn’t necessary, or why partial confinement suffices. My current theory is that of course most European buildings are much older and even though there have likely been upgrades, Europeans (and their parents, grandparents) are accustomed to homes with very small water heaters that quickly run out. That necessitated a minimalist approach to showering where you really most use the water strictly to get wet, and rinse off, turning if off while soaping, etc., and therefore the water would be very carefully aimed at your body in the process. An American approach of leaving the water mostly on would quickly drain away the hot water and leave none for the rest of your family. Of course now I think the European water heaters must be bigger, as there seems to be enough water for longer showers, at least for two people, in a typical hotel room or apartment. Or perhaps Americans are robbing the rest of the hotel of hot water (if they’re up and showering earlier)!. Hope a European sees this and can illuminate us with an explanation…

    1. Karen C Nolan says:

      Lol, I always soak the floors showering in Europe, and we always stay in really nice hotels (we go most every year, mostly to France) — it’s just the way it is, especially in France. It’s because, I think, most Europeans take baths and use the shower attachment, even the high-up ones, to rinse off, rather than an American-style shower where we stand up. We think our way is more efficient (because it is, lol), and they think their way is more efficient, and nicer, probably. I hate baths, never take them, as it seems a dirty way to get clean, and I don’t want to be spending forever getting clean — get in, get out, maximum efficiency. Ha, very American. Europe has so many other wonderful things about it, though, I guess it’s a small price to pay (just don’t wear your socks in the bathroom). 🙂

  8. Suzanne Cane says:

    it makes no sense. The flaw s obvious. i hope tbey fix them beforei i die

  9. Jannik Rietz says:

    Do you stand or sit while showering? Because if you stand up wouldn’t the glass be enough? Or does it still get wet? And do you remove the shower head from the mounting, because that would make more of a mess of course.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I stand when I shower, Jannik Rietz; and I never remove the shower head.

  10. Donna Gregory says:

    I discovered the half shower in a boutique hotel near the Louvre. It made no sense. The floor and a small metal table beside the tub got wet. I tried to aim the water down rather than out, but it still escaped. The hotel didn’t give us enough towels for our bodies and the floor too. Really bad design.

  11. need a warm shower says:

    I absolutely hate the 1/2 partition. I am always cold because all the warm air rapidly escapes the shower and the floor and my clothes get wet. Most also have no hooks or towel tacks to hang the clothes up off the wet floor. So I am cold because there is no shower curtain and I am cold because I have to walk into another room to get my clothes afterwards. I am in my third hotel on this, one of many, trips to the UK and all had the ridiculous 1/2 partition situation. 2 of the 3 hotels were quite fancy and I still had a miserable shower experience. They also always only have the small heated towel rack, which is great on day 1 when you take a nice warn towel off, but when you want to hang up your wet towel to use it again, you have to fold it to make it fit and lay it on top of any other towels. Even though it is heated, the wet towel will not dry like this and, if traveling with my husband, he does not appreciate my wet towel on top of his clean dry one. they also never have a towel rack for hand towels. how do they dry their hands and where do they put the towel after? I typically wash my hands several times and want to reuse the same hand towel. I am online now searching for creative portable shower curtain ideas that will fit in my luggage because I cannot take it anymore. I travel to Europe often and I am fed up with this. In the US, I always steam my clothes when I unpack by hanging the 1-2 items that got wrinkled in the shower and running it with the curtain closed. This is not possible in the UK because there is no place to hang a hanger and the steam never accumulates due to there being no curtain to hold it in.

  12. M. Y. M. says:

    Hahahaha. I was googling something and chanced upon this page – I love it! Our family of three were stationed in France for a few years, and we stayed at a hotel for a couple of months while we house-shopped. I could not shower without getting the floor all wet. I used a towel on the floor, but the housekeepers hated us and were quite frankly rude to us (I could tell they were talking stink about us even though I did not speak French). After several months in France and having traveled a little, it dawned on me that perhaps we were expected to *sit down* and shower – we saw several accommodations (including hotels, vacation rental homes, and the flat we ended up renting) that had only tubs (no shower stalls) with hand-held shower heads. EXCEPT that didn’t solve the mystery of the aforementioned hotel’s shower as the shower head there was affixed to the wall, with no hand-held shower head. Go figure. After three years of assignment, we went back to the same hotel after clearing out of the flat before returning to the U.S. I had the same group of housekeepers. I let the floor get wet and did not care.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      You had me laughing with the story of your experience, M. Y. M.

      Thank you for sharing it.

  13. charina aumentado says:

    I was wondering too..soo stupid. The floor gets wet and not enough towels to dry the floor…

  14. Chris says:

    Probably wrong but could it be possible that the evolution of bathing in Europe – so many buildings are decades and centuries old – where tubs came before shower features (water pressure, hot/cold water distribution in pipes, sprays etc. all advents of later epochs AFTER tubs). Depending on who you ask indoor plumbing didn’t start to happen until ~1830-1910. Costly and time consuming to add showers to old buildings over there. The utility versus cost probably seemed marginal for alot of buildings. So if when shower slides were added it might have seemed of only marginal benefit or utility. Today just extending on that history. New hotels have 90% Euro guests who don’t ask for full showers, so they get built without full showers. Kind of like bidets are massively successful in Japan and Europe but tiny bit of installation/use in U.S.

  15. Giz says:

    We saw this in Paris last summer at the hotel we went to. Knowing that it was a ridiculous design, we removed any valuables we had in the bathroom and just let the water fly. If enough people do this, maybe they’ll rethink that design.

  16. Bosco Hern says:

    There’s a famous story about Conrad Hilton from the 1960s (or 70s) that fits here. At the time of his retirement he appeared on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Carson asked Hilton to share with the country some great wisdom he had learned in his life. Hilton’s response was: “Citizens of America, put the shower curtain inside the bathtub.” (At least that’s the legend.)

    We’re traveling in Spain right now and two of the three Marriott properties (Autograph Collection) we’ve stayed in have had these silly glass half doors on the tubs. Apparently the designers of these properties missed that day at hospitality school.

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