On Wednesdays, Aroma ‘RestoBar’ [the little restaurant in the gut of the Radisson hotel] offer pizzas and pints of beer at half-price. The pizza is so shockingly good, the beer so shockingly insipid, and everything so shockingly cheap, that at some point in the night you’ll surely find yourself stumbling across the hotel lobby to the washrooms to test out the facility’s plumbing. There, you will discover washroom grandeur that will make your gourmet perogy pizza, by comparison, seem like a microwaved slice of Delissio.
Granted, washrooms in a hotel or restaurant chain should be assessed under a more critical lens than that of a locally owned business, like Flint for example, who don’t have the same bottle-fed access to resources oozing down from corporate HQ. That said, it’s hard to dispute Aroma/Radisson’s lobby washroom perfection, even if examined through an extreme critical prism owing to their multi-million dollar advantage. Any respectable washroom critic would be negligent if they didn’t find more about philosophies applied to the washroom.
So, I got on the phone. The Radisson, owned by the Carlson Rezidor hotel group, has a headquarters in Minneapolis that oversees hundreds of hotels across the continent, and more importantly, has a very tricky automated phone system that doesn’t provide an option for “bathroom design inquiries”. For almost an hour I tried to explain to a great deal of increasingly short-tempered receptionists and department managers what I was after [inquiries about washroom design and philosophy do not seem to be something the call takers have been trained for], all of whom probably thought they were subject of a very unfunny prank. Eventually, I hit the jackpot and was connected with Sagittarius Brown [real name withheld by request] who held some sort of specialized position in [what was explained to me by a clearly annoyed receptionist] the facility architecture and design” department. In short, he was Carlson Rezidor’s washroom man. Sagittarius, who had never set foot in Saskatoon, had a sort of tired excitement in his voice, as if he had been waiting a career to have this conversation yet unable to summon much enthusiasm when it actually transpired. After hearing my reason for calling, Sag informed me that while he can ‘talk washrooms’ with me, he was in no position to make any on-the-record statements on behalf of the company. But he did talk at length about what the company was trying to achieve through their public washrooms, which was a surprisingly dull conversation, and can be summarized like this: “Everyone is a potential guest. People assume washrooms, even more so than the lobby, will look like the room so we keep them clean and modern.” Sag made no references to guiding principles of washroom excellence, and had no answer for me when asked about the company’s washroom philosophy. He instead threw questions at me like ‘who are you, again?’ and ‘why are you so into washrooms?’, and without a snappy reply prepared, I simply hung up.
Back to the washroom itself. Through a set of two doors await a sparkling, white-tiled, touch-less and sterile washroom wonderland. Urinals provide a wide and luxurious aiming space, and each are partitioned by their own splash guard for complete privacy. Toilets are automatic, and the toilet stalls are equipped with those pre-made stencil seat covers, which are a delightful find to any washroom visitor. The sinks, as well as the soap and towel dispensers, like everything else, are all automatic, and will ensure even the most self-disrespecting slob a effortlessly sterile experience. And the far wall has a completely blacked out window, which, when in the adjacent stall, reflects a sort of primal image of you sitting on the toilet, and perhaps even, an image of you meditating on the multitude of possible meanings behind this shared experience of public pooping which will probably reveal some manner spacial, contemporaneous social, and psychological anxieties. City best pizza and possibly a city best washroom. Full marks.
1/5[Washrooms are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with a maximum rating of 1 and a minimum of –