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The Unisex Bathroom

Inside the unisex potty at Se San Diego.

“I have to go to the bathroom,” is announced over the din of party conversation. Everyone at my table shakes their head in agreement. We are seated in brown leather chairs in a banquette at Suite & Tender, a high-end steakhouse on the mezzanine level of new, upscale Se San Diego Hotel. Our group is co-ed—two female magazine sales reps, a couple male photographers and Bob Stefanko, publisher of “Ranch & Coast” magazine.

We all get up at the same time…and head into the same restroom door. Here at Se San Diego, the facility that serves the restaurant and roof-top pool lounge is unisex.

It’s one magnificent potty. No urinals, guys. Rumored to have cost half a million dollars, the “stalls” have sturdy, wall-to-ceiling doors to insure maximum privacy. Walls, floor and ceiling are covered in rolled granite, polished and set into Lucite.

I’d read in a hotel fact sheet that the restroom contains, “a plush corner sofa [that] turns the space into a social and relaxing environment.” So I decide to hang out for awhile.

A trio of women in fancy dresses is standing in the corner, chatting animatedly. A blonde women stares into a mirror and applies a layer of glossy orange lipstick. She seems unaware of the two men standing at the long sink basin in the middle of the room. They’ve finished washing their hands and are looking for paper towels.

A local public relations maven enters the restroom and waves to me in recognition. Then she appears to get embarrassed, and refuses to answer my innocent questions about unisex bathrooms. She asks where the stall doors are; they fairly seamlessly blend into the walls. Two bathroom attendants are here to help people find vacant ones. They beckon to the PR maven, and she vanishes quickly.

It’s quite dark inside those stalls. There’s just one small light in each, which emanates up from the floor. No, do not bring reading material.

My research into unisex bathroom protocol is going fairly poorly until Fox 5 TV weathergirl Chrissy Russy makes the scene. She’s more than willing to roll with my toilet questions.

I ask about the age-old debate over men leaving the seat up, and how that should be handled here. She’s pretty pragmatic: “No matter where it is when you get in there, put it where you need it.”

Is it weird for gals to primp in the mirror with men around? “Yes,” says Russo. “But it’s also strangely sexy. And at the same time…if I get my underwear caught in my skirt, another girl is going to stop me and let me know. Girls will know what I’m talking about. I don’t want a guy seeing that, though.”

When I turn my questions on the female bathroom attendant, she eyes me with friendly suspicion. I ask her, “What kind of stuff goes on in here?” Wink, wink.

She laughs. “I’m not going to tell you,” she says. “You’ll have to read about it in my book.”

I guess that book will fall in the category of bathroom reading.

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-515-3000
  • Name: Se San Diego Hotel's Suite & Tender restaurant
  • Address: 1047 Fifth Avenue