Local Heart, Global Soul

March 20, 2010

An Old Fashioned Dutch convienience …sure to surprise Loo.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Anyone visiting The Netherlands for long enough will eventually come across one of these surprises.

OK, naturally if you are visiting a modern hotel or business or home then you’ll be met with a convenience in the “smallest room” that will brook absolutely no surprises at all,  just a bog standard toilet just as you will find throughout the western world.

But of you are in an older house  or business where the original traditional features of the “little room” have remained intact, then you are in for a surprise that will leave you doing a double-take the first time you experience it.

I live in an older Dutch house and my conveniences are all intact and… and so is the 1930’s plumbing.

So, First let me tell you a little story, It’s way back in 1996, in a note that I wrote at the time:  “Himself and I are having the very worst week of our lives,  My beloved Oma has passed away three days ago the funeral is the day after tomorrow. She was a few months short of her 100th Birthday and as clear as a bell mentally until the last three days of her life. We’ve been expecting this but it’s still a big shock now that’s it actually happened. Today we received more bad news, Himself’s Father passed away a few hours ago. We are devastated.  Emotional overload doesn’t begin to cover it”


We have friends arriving from New Zealand due to arrive, tired and jet-lagged any moment. A good friend of mine, her boyfriend and her four-and-a-half year old daughter from a previous relationship.  I know my friend well, she is of course still most welcome and she will understand that we are not firing on all cylinders at the moment. (understatement)

They are the type of friends who won’t mind to make themselves at home and look after themselves (and us)  if we point them in the direction of the kitchen, the pantry cupboard etc.  The beds are already neatly made up for them and I think that they can handle that their hosts are moving around like ghosts on autopilot.

Actually I think it will do Himself and I the world of good to have some extra people  in the house right now, just the two of us enveloped in this amount of shock and grief is probably not an ideal situation at all.

So… the front door opens, and our weary travelers  enter… we  exchange greetings and explain our red and swollen eyes and sudden outbursts of tears. They understand, get the coffee on, give hugs, talk about how they can fit in with our situation in the next days and then we start to catch up on their flight news and travel plans within Europe.

They will be using our place as a base, the hub from where they can go off and make shorter or longer excursions and later in about a month we have a trip to France planned together.

Then a tired little girl whispers in her mother’s ear… my friend in turn asks me ” where can we find the toilet please?” Directions are given and child skips off in a hurry. Suddenly there is a little scream and a loudly crying child frantically emerges into the hallway, we all rush out to see what is wrong. Sobbing desperately our littlest visitor  gulps out the following words in horror ” I can’t go in there, they have a  toilet with .. with, …. with ….no hole in it!”

Himself and I burst out laughing… We lead her back in to show her the secret of our traditional Dutch toilet, and when she realised all was well, she was after a little moment very relieved  (in more ways than one).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

So… what was all the commotion about?  Well, this Dutch toilet has a porcelain shelf built into it, and no large bowl of water like toilets you may be used to. Yes there is water in the hole, but the hole that the waste disappears down is situated at the very front of the toilet.

It’s a little disconcerting at first, but it’s there for “health reasons”. It’s a little shelf was apparently designed for inspecting your deposits so that you could keep an eye on your health.  It also uses a heap less water, and since we get  billed for water here in The Netherlands it’s no surprise that the canny Dutch are keen on energy efficient  ideas.

Our little room,  all inherited “as-is” when we bought the house,  even has the original wooden toilet seat (that Himself sanded down and coated in 6 layers of varnish during the renovation process). I looove that Loo seat, no matter if the house is freezing solid in winter that seat is never cold. I love it so much that it’s going with us if we ever move house LOL.

I also like that the tank above is the original small one… (a) it’s in keeping with the rest of the little room (b) it fills super quickly when you need to flush twice (c) it saves a heap of water.

Of course, if you are four-and-a-half-years old, then your view of the Loo will not be the same as that of an adult. Depending on the angle from where you look,  Yes, for one very disconcerting moment it probably did look like there was no hole at all in our toilet.

But, phew for all, there is one there after all…  and you know, after our little lady had recovered from her fright and shock we all had a laugh about it.  Talk about ” out of the mouths of babes.”

That  laugh that was sorely needed in our house on that day.

So, that leads me to my next point: what do they call the toilet in Dutch? Well it’s quite  literally called the “Water Closet” but the Dutch have a very neat and simple abbreviation for it: “W.C.”

Pronounce that as ” “way-say”  and you have now learned a new Dutch word.  How Convenient… Yes?

(photograph © Kiwidutch)


  1. Your Dutch tales area always a hoot! Delightful story and once again, I’ve learned something new!

    Are you feeling better?

    Comment by milkayphoto — March 20, 2010 @ 1:22 am | Reply

  2. Interesting – I find the similarities between Dutch and both German & English fascinating! way-say is very similar to the German pronunciation for the same fixture – W.C. = vay-tzay.

    Can’t say as I saw any toilets like that while I was there. Don’t recall how the W.C. was in Pets’R’us’ place though…I do remember it being a “little room”!

    Comment by Carrie — March 20, 2010 @ 2:25 am | Reply

    • Carrie, I *think* you’d have remembered if it had been one of these!!! LOL. Our W.C. (and house) is rather “out of fashion” at the moment as people removate old houses in more modern styles inside, but Himself and I just love the “oldness” of our wee place so opted to keep all the fittings and fixture details just as they were. You see these Loo’s less and less these days for that reason. Little room? Dutch houses are small and land prices ‘aint cheap, the Dutch don’t waste space LOL.

      Comment by kiwidutch — March 29, 2010 @ 11:24 am | Reply

  3. […] be met with a convenience in the “smallest room” that … Read the original post:  An Old Fashioned Dutch convienience …sure to surprise Loo. « Local … Share […]

    Pingback by An Old Fashioned Dutch convienience …sure to surprise Loo. « Local … | Today Headlines — March 20, 2010 @ 5:31 am | Reply

  4. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but that’s a lovely loo seat. In the UK, W.C is one of the many names we have for a toilet, though I don’t hear it mentioned often or see it written down these days.

    Comment by Pie — March 20, 2010 @ 11:58 am | Reply

    • Pie, ya can’t have it, it’s ALL MINE !!! my warm loo seat is coming with me when I move LOL. I don’t need many material comforts or “things” and I can “rough it” rather well too if I have to, BUT, that said… this seat is always sooooooo nice to come home to LOL.

      Comment by kiwidutch — March 29, 2010 @ 11:19 am | Reply

  5. I love history and it is great that you can even make toilet history interesting.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    Comment by slamdunk — March 21, 2010 @ 4:52 pm | Reply

  6. I like to learn something new everyday; today I learnt about dutch toilets. Awesome 🙂

    Would love to see peoples reactions when first coming across the ‘no-hole’ toilet. Haha
    thanks for the laugh and education 🙂

    Comment by dreamlivedream — March 23, 2010 @ 10:16 pm | Reply

    • Sadly only children have been hysterical in their reactions so far, no adults have been brave enough to own up to the shock LOL (but I’m sure it must have scared a few for a few seconds at first, as it did me the very first time I saw one of these on my first visit to my Dutch family as a young adult)

      Comment by kiwidutch — March 29, 2010 @ 11:14 am | Reply

  7. OK, this is, hands down, the most interesting blog post I’ve read this week. Amazing, isn’t it, that people can cope with all manner of cultural shocks, from language to food to manners, and then be reduced to tears at being confronted with inscrutable toileting arrangements. Travel is broadening.

    Comment by Gerry — March 4, 2011 @ 1:24 pm | Reply

    • To be fair Gerry, the only guest who was reduced to tears was only four and a half years old at the time 🙂 I’m certain that adult guests HAVE that their share of surprise but regained their composure and found the humorous side of things before exiting!

      Comment by kiwidutch — March 4, 2011 @ 8:00 pm | Reply

  8. […] Dutch toilet. To add to the randomness of this collection of facts – In the traditional Dutch toilet, the toilet hole is situated towards the edge of the seat, rather than center. 2 reasons: (1) It’s to let you inspect your “deposits”, for health reasons (2) It uses less water, which is inline with the Dutch style as they are always keen on energy efficient ideas (think wind mills). Read more: An Old Fashioned Dutch Convenience […]

    Pingback by 22 Random Facts About Holland (and Conclusion on Holland Series) — July 9, 2011 @ 10:34 am | Reply

  9. […] An Old Fashioned Dutch convienience …sure to surprise Loo. https://kiwidutch.wordpress.com/2010/03/20/new-post-47/ […]

    Pingback by Kawakawa: Going Out Of Our Way is NO In-Convenience… « Local Heart, Global Soul — May 21, 2012 @ 1:02 am | Reply

  10. […] Dutch toilet. To add to the randomness of this collection of random facts – In the traditional Dutch toilet, the toilet hole is situated toward the edge of the seat, rather than center. 2 reasons: (1) It’s to let you inspect your “deposits”, for health reasons (2) It uses less water, which is inline with the Dutch style as they are always keen on energy efficient ideas (think wind mills). Read more: An Old Fashioned Dutch Convenience […]

    Pingback by 23 Random Facts About Holland (and Conclusion on Holland Series) — May 18, 2014 @ 12:03 pm | Reply

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