The European Bathroom Feature American Tourists Are Obsessed With

When planning your trip to Europe, you're likely looking forward to visiting stunning gothic castles in the U.K. or pristine Spanish beaches — not the continent's public restrooms. However, the bathrooms can be an unexpected perk for those visiting from the U.S. Unlike your typical American toilet stall, the ones in Europe tend to be outfitted with full doors, which can make doing your business a surprisingly comfortable experience.

Some tourists have taken to social media to show off the fully enclosed spaces often found on the other side of the pond. TikToker @moneytimeq posted a clip of a European stall where there are no gaps around the door or the walls. Each stall is like its own private room, where you can't make eye contact with passersby and no one can get a peek of your feet. Similarly, @nerysbueller posted a TikTok of another European stall with floor-to-ceiling walls and just a tiny space under the door. "The privacy is unparalleled," the American content creator captioned the video.

Why do American restroom stalls have gaps?

After backpacking through Europe or spending a few days in a European city, you may start to wonder why American restrooms use partitions that leave sizable gaps on all sides. There are several explanations for the different design. First, the restroom style favored in the U.S., where the barriers don't reach the floor or ceiling, offer versatility and can be easily installed in spaces where the floor or walls are uneven. They're also cheaper than building complete walls with full-length doors.

American stalls may also be popular simply because they offer little privacy. The crack next to the door and the gaps on the top and bottom of the partitions could deter people from partaking in illegal or dangerous activities since they know someone could be watching. In workplaces, American-style restrooms could also serve the purpose of discouraging employees from taking extended breaks.

Having spaces around the door and walls can also be useful during an emergency. If a child locks themselves in a stall or if someone falls ill while in the restroom, emergency personnel can easily access the space and rescue the person inside.

There are some downsides to using European restrooms

If privacy is your priority, European restrooms are far superior to their American counterparts. However, there can be some unexpected toilet info you need to know before visiting Europe — otherwise, your bathroom experience might not be as pleasant as it seems on social media.

First, note that toilets aren't as easy to find in most European countries compared to in the U.S. Gas stations, large grocery stores, and even shopping malls — places where most Americans would usually expect to find a bathroom — aren't always outfitted with toilets for the public to use. And if you do find a restroom, expect to pay a fee before being allowed inside.

Additionally, the gapless doors and walls can be nice, but they don't allow for airflow the way American restrooms do. This can be a good or bad thing, depending on who used the stall before you (or, rather, what they used it for). Also, be aware that you're out of luck if you run out of toilet paper. Without a gap around the partition, you can't ask your neighbor to pass a roll to you. However, a little odor and a quick check of the stall's toilet paper supply are a small price to pay for a room all to yourself.