Toilets fit for a Queen. A fairy tale.


My Mother always used to say “ Even The Queen has to  use a toilet “

To a small child that statement seems miraculous and wondrous. To an adult who happens to be a Tour Guide, the word “ Toilet “ has an importance not to be avoided or ridiculed, become embarrassed at –  or horror of horrors – forgotten about! It is the unwritten law. Know your toilets! On tours, walking the streets or on a tour bus, toilets are big news.

I hear that the state Governnment is to spend $100 million restoring the dilapidated Flinders Street Station in Melbourne’s heart, to a semblance of its former glory. A multi million dollar facelift in effect.

I couldn’t agree more. I hope her character remains intact. With over 110,000 people passing daily from under those famous clocks, this iconic landmark is an important gateway to the City. Situated at one of Melbourne’s busiest intersections, this Grande Dame of Edwardian Baroque architecture is a welcome sight as  you turn the corner from Spring into Flinders Street with tour participants in tow behind you. I tell them the sun always seems to shine highlights onto the important City buildings.

That familiar yellow ochre coloured facade lights up before us,topped by the copper dome, now a hue of verdigris after exposure to the elements over decades, with the side view stretching down another City block. It always brings a sigh or “ oohh “ of recognition from the group as we admire this famous, picture postcard worthy view.Visitors and locals pouring down those famous steps.The original meeting place.

It is therefore, with hope in my heart, that I pray those in charge of improving this gem of Melbourne, will remember to take a peek or even a good hard look, into the hidden realms of the Ladies Toilets of Flinders Street Station. I don’t know the state of the Mens’ facilities. I can only imagine, based on the state of The Ladies.

On tour, one of the most crucial items to remember to mention is the location of the nearest toilets – or, in the case of American guests – the rest rooms. I can forget – and I do – who designed what building. I can also forget an easily forgotten date or who did what to whom or how they did it. On the goldfields or up a certain back alley. I try not to forget anything.

However God help me if I forget the toilets. Could have an uprising on my hands akin to what happened in 1854 on the Ballarat goldfields! Without the weapons! Eureka!

In many years of pointing out toilets or seeking them out in public spaces as need arose, I learned to steer myself towards the better ones, those maybe The Queen herself would be happy to use. Sadly, only a select few reach such regal standards – and they are all overseas.

dunny_nFunny, I have never recommended the Flinders Street Station toilets. In fact, I avoid even going there and turn in the direction of the Rialto with the nice gold bathroom fittings.

I’m reminded of the Gryffindor girls lavatories from Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets! You’d swear Flinders Street ladies toilets were used in the filming, except the Harry Potter girls lavs are much easier on the eye – plus they have a ghost ( Moaning Myrtle ) and a giant troll to make it more interesting. Here,in Flinders Street, there is stainless steel in endless rows, old, dirty looking cubicles, obscene messages scratched into backs of doors, water( well I think that is water) dripping, echoing loudly, swirling into drains under the sinks. If ever you needed hand sanitiser here – oh – it’s one of the things I forgot! A cleaner is there, wiping surfaces. I avoid eye contact in here.

Spend the money, make it worth the visit, make me want to come in here and be happy to say to my walking tour participants “ Come on in. This is one of the best experiences you will ever have! In the toilet world.

Here is a short list of the good and the not so good in Melbourne and the world as I have observed.

Melbourne City Council toilets, Collins Street.

Underground, quaint, surrounded by bluestone, with occasionally a uniformed attendant – in attendance. Good for emergencies. Feels safe, cleaned regularly. Except for the bag lady of no fixed address accompanied by her large hound which took up half the space on the floor whilst she went about her weekly ablutions in the sink, making me take a wide berth around her  as she muttered incomprehensively to the mutt.

Federation Square.

Despite water saving signs and a Dyson hand dryer which operates with the velocity of a FA18, making me reluctant to place my hands anywhere in the near vicinity of those blades, plus being deafened by the noise, these toilets are rather ordinary considering their prime location – opposite Flinders Street Station. I always think I have a strange skin condition due to the eerie lighting within the cubicle.

Gordon Reserve, Spring Street.

One of the last of the underground dunnies. The majority boarded up due to unsocial activities. Once I decided to investigate the lower depths of this toilet bunker where you descend the stairs and exit up the same. That’s what I did, took a look, didn’t like what I saw, more dripping sounds, all alone in there, just turned around and up and out and over the road to meet some Americans at The Park Hyatt. I haven’t investigated The Park Hyatt toilets but looking at the opulence around me and the VIP guests being welcomed with Louis Vuitton by the kilo from their limo – well I think The Queen may give these toilets a tick!

Sofitel Melbourne, Collins Street has the “ Loo with a view “ 35th floor. Worth a visit.

Frankfurt main station.

Pay money here to use the loo. Make sure it’s the right currency or you will have to go all the way back through endless corridors, up escalators, down escalators, long walkways and stairs to change your money then reverse the procedure to return to the said toilet gateway, crossing your legs by now to find the coin slot to gain you access to the toilet cubicle.

After half an hour of trying to figure out where the coin actually goes, a rather abrupt gentlemen does it for me and I at last enter a toilet straight out of  the future. Oh Flinders Street. How much you need to improve to top this. Can you?

A female attendant, dressed in a white jumpsuit, oversees a space-age, pristine, sanitary, white environment, where everything is automatic, the door, the lid, the minutest amount of dedicated, exquisite paper scrolling out, where you literally touch nothing, water automatically ejects at optimum temperature, toilet self flushes, opens,closes –  and it is all easy! You could cook a meal on those pristine surfaces. No dogs in here! Or dripping taps.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, Chelsea, London England.

No worries here. Escorted personally to the toilets, by a charming, impeccably dressed wait staff person.Burgundy interior, quiet, classy, spotlessly gleaming clean and not for me those harsh paper pull outs to dry your hands, – no – plush burgundy towels ( I was sure they were warm) After a meal set for a Queen, it surely made sense. I think Her Majesty would approve –after all it’s a stone’s throw from Buck Palace.

Amtrak, America.

Double decker carriage with dining car. Toilets downstairs, unisex and reminded me of Alcatraz or a prison somewhere else. Rows of cubicles on a moving train. Nothing wrong with that. It works.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.IMG_1521s

A picture says a thousand words! You could sleep a family in there and that would be perfectly fine, amidst the sheer beauty, glamour, gold fittings, spa bath glory and opulence unknown to me at that time anywhere in the world – plus bidet and full size Hermes bath products. Plus your own personal Butler to point out those exquisite fragrances which will accompany me home.

In a haze of scented air, everything is right with the world.




Love to see a comment from you below on your similar experiences,( but lets not get too graphic.)

Pauline Campbell

I am a former Australian domestic Airline employee of 15 years to Professional Tour Guide. Recently moved from coast to country. I prefer the quiet peace and beauty of where I live currently but there is a little Gypsy in me. Travel has been my thing. Now there is writing, blogging and meditation.

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