NYC Hotels Restricting Non-Guests from Using Bathrooms

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If you travel a lot to new cities, one question that comes up is where you can use a public restroom. While, my go-to would be walking into a hotel and using a bathroom in the lobby. However, on my recent visit to NYC, I stopped in a hotel and found this not to be the case.

The W New York – Union Square is located in the heart of NYC at Union Square, with thousands of tourists passing through the park every day. I decided to head into the lobby to use the “WC” and found not only a sign that said the restrooms were for hotel guests only, but the bathrooms locked and you needed a key card to use.

On one side, I can see how they want to restrict the restroom for hotel guests, but if you’re a hotel guest why wouldn’t you just use the restroom in your room before you head out, or when you get back. Would you really stop down in the lobby to use one? It also doesn’t account for guests who may be checking in but their rooms aren’t ready yet.

While this is one specific hotel in NYC that has made their lobby restrooms key card restricted for hotel guests, there are several others in NYC that have also done this.

Have you experienced this in other cities as well? Feel free to share your thoughts below.

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  1. Some hotels in Europe do this locked lobby bathroom door thing too. But often the front desk will give the lobby bathroom code/cards if asked for it.

  2. My guess is that there are issues with vandalism or too many people were using them that they couldn’t keep up with maintenance. It’s typical for office buildings in big cities to do the same.

  3. There are some Manhattan hotels whose lobby restrooms I do use even as someone not staying in the hotel.

    The more conference/meeting activity a hotel has, the less controlled the bathroom access — at least if you seem dressed for the purpose.

  4. The NYC Marriott Times Square Hotel had the lobby restroom locked when I had an urgent need to use a toilet. The door to the stairway off the lobby was unlocked and ….

  5. I usually head over to the conference room area, often on a serving out third floor. Those are rarely locked as they’d have to give keys to all the participants.

    I was in a Marriott in Hawaii where the lobby loo was locked. I asked for a key and was told guests only. I asked the desk clerk if an exception could be made for a lifetime platinum. Clerk said no. Manager overheard and asked to see card, then issued keys and an apology.

  6. I agree with others. Go to the conference room area or go to the bar area of the hotel. There will always be restrooms at the hotel bar (which tends to be near the lobby.) I live in NYC and those bathrooms rarely ever have a key requirement.

  7. My 7 year old daughter had an emergency yesterday we popped into a Marriott in downtown Denver I asked the front desk, Jack wagon if my daughter could please use the restroom. Was told No that it was against policy. Needless to say my kiddo ended up having an accident and now we had a big problem.
    Thanks Marriott

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