Europe Travel by Location Travel Tips

The Mystery of the European Shower

A typical European shower
Written by Amy

We’ve stayed in a ton of different hotels while visiting Europe. We’re used to quirks like tiny elevators, lights that need your room key to operate, and bidets (try one, you might realize they’re great). However, one question remains:

How on earth do you use a European shower?

Here’s the type of shower I’m talking about:

A typical European shower

The typical hotel-grade shower we encounter has no shower curtain. It has no door. Instead, there is a glass panel that mysteriously covers about half of the shower.

I have done some Googling of this question, and it appears I’m not alone. Plenty of travelers encounter this odd shower arrangement and are left wondering how they’re supposed to get clean without turning their bathroom into a pool. The showers usually have a hand-held nozzle, which has a removable mount. Are you supposed to detach the nozzle and spray towards the body part you are washing? What happens when you need two hands to open a bottle of shampoo?

A typical European shower

Usually, the entire bathroom ends up getting soaked. No matter how careful I try to be, an errant flick of the hand or turn of the body allows a jet of water to fly across the room and ricochet, seeping all over the tile floor. This is especially unpleasant when several hours later, I have a middle-of-the-night trip to the toilet and step in a cold forgotten puddle.

The next problem posed by these half-showers is that it gets quite cold when you don’t have a door or curtain sealing off the airflow. This is especially true if you’re going for the handheld one-body-part-at-a-time method. Even more true if you’re in an older, draftier hotel.

In reading about this shower problem online, I found a lot of people who think this is a more hygenic means of bathing, as shower curtains can stick to your body, are never cleaned, and are generally considered gross. I can understand that thought. A glass door would be a replacement for curtains, but for some reason, hotels opt to provide half of a door. Perhaps a cost-saving measure?

A typical European shower

Interestingly, when we’ve stayed in Airbnbs, which tend to be like private homes, we’ve had perfectly adequate shower facilities. And from my very official online research, it seems that many European homes use curtains or doors to prevent the flood. So if you’re truly fed up with the frigid splashing shower, you can always try an Airbnb instead.

It seems that most people eventually give up and let the water fly. Before bathing, keep your clothes and electronics safely outside the bathroom, and make sure the toilet paper is away from the splash zone! Post-shower, use a towel to do your best to wipe up. I wish I had a better answer, but after my last European vacation, I finally admitted that there is no way I can both shower and preserve the floor of the bathroom. My travel companions would rather I attend to personal hygiene than keep the bathroom dry. Do you have suggestions to prevent the inevitable flood? Let me know!

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