Tuesday 24 June 2008

Don't Sit on the Seats at Blenheim Palace Indoor Toilets

Blenheim Palace
Indoor Toilets (near cafe)
United Kingdom

Where is it?

From the outside, round the main palace building and head towards the Water Terrace Cafe, which is on the back side of the palace (if coming in from the Woodstock entrance), overlooking the majestic Water Terrace gardens, which feature many sculptures, topiary and waterworks displays.

To get to the toilets, enter the cafe from the exterior entrance, pass through to the hallway on the other side of it, and follow the signs from there to the toilets. You'll go downstairs eventually and enter a humble corridor filled with various artifacts. In that hallway, you'll see a sign reading "Ladies and Gentlemen Toilet" -- with an arrow pointing to your left.

(This sign, of course, gave me quite a laugh because, taken at face value, it serves both as a directional and a declaration -- as in, "Ladies and Gentleman, I present you with TOILETS!" Pretty amusing, I thought.)

What's it like?

These are slightly smaller facilities than the palace's outdoor toilets, however they are also more ornate and more traditionally English in spirit than that other set.

The walls here are covered half in white tile and half in green-painted drywall. The floor is covered in beige tile. The back wall houses three urinals, all hooked up to a single pipe system that enforces an automatic flush mechanism on them (like how it's set up in the outdoor toilets). It also features two pedestal sinks on the side wall, and two toilet stalls in the back, one small and one set for handicapped persons.

The toilets here are similar in design to the ones found in the outdoor toilets, in that they are white porcelain models with wooden seats. However, the stalls here are a cut above the outdoor toilets in that they are roomier (even the small one is roomy) and they feature unique pocket doors instead of the standard hinged door you find at so many other places.

The pocket doors, I must admit, make a nice touch and infuse the place with a big of traditional English elegance. However, the bathroom itself was quite a mess and somewhat smelly. So much so that it became unpleasant to be there. No doubt this is because these facilities are heavily visited, whereas the outdoor toilets are not used as much.

On my first visit, a group of schoolboys stopped in before I did, and they were ramshackled the place. There was water everywhere, as well as plenty of mis-directed urine. This was most noticeable in the stall itself, where I found the floor and toilet seat covered with pee. Also, the smell of urine here was very sharp.

On a second visit, about an hour or so later, I had hoped to find the placed cleaned up but this wasn't the case. It was still in a considerable state of disorder and pee was still covering the toilet seat and stall floor. Needless to stay, I opted to walk to the outdoor toilets to do my business and found them in perfectly acceptable condition.

Marks out of 10:

4. A nice, old-fashioned design, but that fact gets lost in the mess I found here. A good place for a pee but not for much more, at least not until they are cleaned properly.

Comments to the Management:

Clearly, you need to figure out a better schedule of maintenance, since leaving the place in such a state isn't acceptable. (No doubt there's a reason no one used that stall in the hour or so that passed in between my first and second visits.) Also, some air freshener would be much appreciated. Quite a disappointment, since the outdoor toilets made for such a nice stop.

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