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Bathroom Doors: A Cautionary Tale Starring W Downtown New York

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  Site Where: 123 Washington St [map], New York, NY, United States, 10006
September 2, 2010 at 9:56 AM | by | Comments (2)

Earlier this week, we looked at 10 Annoying Hotel Room Designs but today we'd like to take a closer look at #5 on that list: Sliding Bathroom Doors. Specifically, we want to tell you how we got locked inside the bathroom at the W New York Downtown.

Now, we're not usually claustrophobic, but when we get stuck in a tiny bathroom inside a Financial District hotel on the weekend (where no one can hear you scream!) ... with some peekaboo strips on the frosted glass shower window our only view to the outside world ... we do start to get anxious.

We had already noticed that these sliding doors seemed flimsy—they slid fast and hard under our fingertips, and the latch did seem a bit fiddly. But absentmindedly, we flipped said latch anyway, only to find that it wouldn't unlatch when we tried to get out.

The calm and methodical approach to getting it unstuck failed so we took a shower to kill some time. Since our husband was downstairs in the hotel gym, we weren't in full-blown panic mode but OMG what if we were staying here alone and no one came to our room... for hours?!

The lemon-sage Bliss toiletries could only soothe us temporarily and then we were playing with the makeup mirror and employing breathing techniques, waiting for our husband to return to the room.

Ordinarily we'd agree with commenter Steven Hartstein who told us that phones in hotel toilets are unnecessary—but for the first time we found ourselves wishing for one. (No, we did not bring our cell phone with us into the loo.)

At last, our husband came back, and after some yelling through the flimsy door and dramatic face pulling through those glass panels in the peekaboo shower window, he called the front desk and summoned help.

To the W's credit, the maintenance guy arrived—and worked—quickly. He figured out that unlatching the door from the other side with his fancy tools wasn't going to work so just pulled the whole lock apart and immediately asked if we were OK.

The 'after' shot.

Indeed, we were fine—just thrilled to be freed. The phone rang barely two minutes later, with the Whatever/Whenever staff apologizing for "what had just happened" to us, and asking if there was anything they could offer us.

Our husband had brought back free coffee from the lobby so we were all set—just eager to get the hell out of the hotel.

But there are a few lessons in this tale: be careful with cheap latches and sliding bathroom doors, consider taking your cell phone into the bathroom if you're traveling alone, and always make sure there's a spare towel or robe to throw on for when the repair guy appears on the other side of your broken door to grant you your freedom.

Now you've heard our Trapped in a Hotel Bathroom Tale, tell us: Has this ever happened to you? Share your hotel claustrophobia nightmares with us in comments below!

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that's so scary. i will never rail against phones in the bathroom again!

locked in bathroom in Greece

I had a very similar, scary experience a few years ago in Greece. It was my last night of a month of bicycling in the Peloponnese. I was with a large group and we were all staying in a relatively small hotel in Athens. We had our good-bye dinner and returned to our respective rooms after midnight. Normally, if I'm in a hotel room by myself I don't shut the door. But this time I did and I heard the lock on it click into place. But I assume no big deal only to find that it wouldn't open. I was calm at first but as time ticked away and the  door wasn't budging, I began to panic. There was no phone in the room, my cell phone was in the bedroom and the only way anyone would otherwise hear me was if I opened the airshaft window and screamed. So that's what I did. I felt silly but I'd been in the locked bathroom for one hour and it was 1 am so the chances of anyone finding me before we checked out in the morning wasn't good. After 10 minutes of screaming, one of the women who I dined with that night yelled back and asked what happened. After hearing about my dilemma, she promptly ran down to the front desk and together she and the manager got the bathroom door open. Of course, the next day, everyone in my group was laughing about how silly this was. But, if you're locked in a bathroom, it doesn't seem all that silly. My takeaway: don't close the bathroom door when you're alone in a hotel room.

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