Sunday, April 22nd, 2007:
Top Toilet Tips: Pubs in Helsingborg -
Part One: Charles Dickens
Welcome to the first in this new series of Top Toilet Tips, your indispensable guide to the toilets (US/CAN: bathrooms, washrooms, restrooms) in pubs in Helsingborg.
Before you visit this fine city in the south of Sweden, you simply must read this guide.
I'll start with the Charles Dickens pub, located on Södergatan, in the vibrant and bustling southern part of the city.
How to get to the toilets:
Once in the pub, walk straight past the bar on your right towards the back. Pass by the gambling machines on your right, and the pool table on your left. You'll see the grand entrance to the magnificent toilet hall just to the left of the dart machine (don't worry if people are playing; they use plastic-pointed darts). By the way, some pubs will only allow you to use their toilets if you're a paying customer. At Charles Dickens, they're pretty laid back, and will usually let you use their facilities without buying anything (unless you're one of those yellow-jacketed so-called security folks, as they're considered a waste of space by some staff).
What they're like:
There are three little individual cubicle rooms, and one with a stainless steel urinal trough. There's also a toilet for disabled people, next to the wash basins, but it's kept locked. I guess you need to ask for the key.
At this point, I guess I should point out that many public toilets in pubs in Sweden are unisex. Those at the Charles Dickens fall into this category.
(Be aware: some toilets are marked with the Swedish for Gents and Ladies. These are Herrar and Damer. "Herrar" does not mean "Hers".)
When it's not busy, there's no issue with having to wait for an available toilet. But on a busy Friday or Saturday night, it's the ladies who suffer, as it can become a bit of a free-for-all in there. Because of the layout of the toilet area, and the placement of the toilet cubicles, there's no logical place to queue (US/CAN: line up).
The urinal can accommodate two guys comfortably, three guys not-so-comfortably, or two very desperate girls.
My friend Badlands accompanied me for a few beers wile I was conducting my research. You may remember him from my entry about my trip to Stockholm. You'll be happy to learn that he'd had that annoying womanising co-joined twin removed from his right shoulder blade since then.
Here's Badlands going into one of the cubicles to investigate
(the door on the right is the one going into the urinal room): Once inside, Badlands was not overly impressed with the state of the toilet. It wasn't exactly filthy, but there was some moderately off-putting splatter on the inner rim. This made Badlands a bit nauseous, to say the least. Not easy to see in this image, but it was there, trust me.
I was equally disturbed by this.
However, Badlands and I agreed that, generally speaking, the cleanliness of the toilets was largely dependent on the time of day, and how busy the pub was on the day.
Overall, we think that the toilets at the Charles Dickens pub are not too bad.
About the urinal:
This is flushed through a pipe that runs along the length of the top of the trough. This is done automatically - when you open the door to this little room, you set off a motion sensor found in the top-left corner, which starts the flushing. This lasts for about 20 seconds or so (I haven't actually timed it; I'm not that much of a toilet-spotting nerd - honest).
While you're weeing, and the flushing stops, you can just wave your hand a bit and start it up again. That's fun.
Another friend, the Yank, pointed out another fun thing you can do: play Urinal-Mint Golf. This can be played over the course of a good beer-drinking session.
The little deodourising pellets start off by being scattered all along the bottom. So what you do is start on the right-hand side and, using your wee-stream, push them, one-by-one, over to the drain located on the left-hand side. Once you get really good, you can even push them around the drain until they're lodged between the drain and the left side. Only the real experts can manage to get them out of that spot and start the process of pushing them back to the right. It can get pretty competetive, let me tell you. It's fun to boast about your progress upon your return to the table.
Washing your hands:
Unlike in the UK, people in Sweden actually wash their hands after visiting the bog (US/CAN: john). It's a weird custom, I know, but when in Rome...
There are two wash basins in one counter-top. These have mixer-taps, so you can adjust the temperature of the water quite well. I rate the hand-washing experience at the Charles Dickens pub quite highly in this respect.
However, when it comes to drying your hands, there's a bit of inconsistency here. There are two hand dryers, which is good, but the one on the right-hand side is far superior to the one on the left. Most people don't realise this, because the left-hand one is closest to the exit, so they naturally tend to go for that one as a matter of course.
In summary, the toilets in the Charles Dickens pub are slightly better than average. This finding is based on the fact that there are three separate cubicles, usually with enough toilet paper, a urinal that can be fun to use, and good hand-washing facilities.
The only area that it falls short is in the category on hand drying. One dryer provides a good strong flow of air, but the other is simply pathetic, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.