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Travel: Here’s why my favorite hotel amenity is a heated toilet seat

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Editor’s note: It’s not for everyone.

Sometimes in life, you just don’t know what you’re missing until you experience it for the first time. Even if that experience is as mundane as simply using the restroom and finding a toilet with a heated seat.

It might sound silly, yes, but the pure, unexpected delight of having a heated toilet seat has made me question why it’s not the norm in every hotel room.

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The first time I came across a heated toilet seat, I was a seventh-grader visiting my hometown’s sister city in Japan. In Musashino, a suburb of Tokyo, I encountered what seemed like, at first, the most daunting, technologically advanced commode I had ever seen.

For a 13-year-old from rural Texas, a toilet seat that came with a remote control and had more buttons than our Dish satellite system at home was unsettling. Why would anyone bother with so many bells and whistles in the bathroom? Why turn an everyday plumbing necessity into an over-the-top gadget?

And then I sat down.

Why, I wondered then, had I only ever sat on cold, unresponsive toilet seats before? Why hadn’t I been pampering my derriere with the temperature-controlled treatment it deserved? How was I ever going to go back to using regular old toilets again?

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After that first experience, there was no going back for me. I had found a technological marvel in the water closet and I wanted everyone to know about it.

Returning to Texas, all I could talk about that summer was how every toilet I had encountered on my trip seemed to have heated seats, an electric bidet and dozens of settings for even the most discerning bathroom-goer.

How was it that, of all of the mind-blowing experiences I had in Japan, from sumo wrestlers to the joy of Tokyo Disney Resort, I simply couldn’t get enough of the country’s over-the-top toilets?

I couldn’t wait for my next heated-seat toilet.

(Photo by retirementbonus/Shutterstock) © The Points Guy (Photo by retirementbonus/Shutterstock)

Unfortunately, it took over a decade before I was able to enjoy another heated toilet seat, specifically a high-tech bidet with a heat function.

That time, it was after driving through a snowstorm from New York City to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York. Checking into The Adelphi, a gorgeous hotel on the town’s main street, I was freezing and exhausted from the snowy drive, and more than ready to get into my room to relax.

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After settling in, I went into the bathroom and that’s when I saw the sight that had been living rent-free in the back of my mind for years: a remote control stuck to the wall. There, getting acquainted with the high-tech toilet, I realized that having a warm seat to do my business was just next-level luxury — and is probably my favorite hotel amenity ever.

A bathroom is an intimate place; we all know that. But who says the hygienic experience can’t be a little more luxe? A moment to indulge rather than simply a necessity? And after all, if the toilet is a throne, shouldn’t that throne be ornate, at least in a digital sense, considering the technologically advanced world we live in?

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If a heated seat is good enough for your car, trust me, it’s good enough for your bathroom.

A few years after my sojourn at The Adelphi, I finally purchased an electric bidet with a heated toilet seat for my own bathroom. While not as complicated as some models, it does take some instruction to use. So, like any good host, I always let guests know what to expect if it’s their first time in my bathroom.

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“Just a warning, the toilet seat is heated — and it’s turned all the way up,” I say. Though I’m usually met with trepidation at first, plenty of my guests will ask how to get one of their own on the way out.

Now, my bum is spoiled, and I shudder at the thought of sitting down on a chilly toilet seat, especially at luxury hotels where, in my opinion, heated seats should be the standard. (But I’ll be the first to admit there’s nothing more unsettling than sitting on a warm toilet seat in a public place where the source of that warmth is, er, unknown.)

Mind you, most heated electric bidets also come with a lot of other features: they can help you clean up after the main event, some help freshen the air and others even clean themselves and the toilet. But for me, the radiant heat of the seat itself is the real attraction.

Try it for yourself

If you’re looking to experience my favorite hotel amenity for yourself, you don’t have to look too far.

In St. Louis, Missouri, you can enjoy the experience at the Seven Gables Inn, a Marriott Category 4 hotel, for between 20,000 and 30,000 points a night.

(Photo courtesy of Four Seasons) © The Points Guy (Photo courtesy of Four Seasons)

Even in a tropical paradise like Hawaii, a heated toilet seat can be the perfect respite from the surf and sun. At the Four Seasons Resort Lani, every room comes with a “high-tech bathroom,” including Toto toilets with electric bidets and heated seats.

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Up in icy Canada, don’t expect less than a toasty toilet seat at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal, a Category 7 Marriott hotel. There, the experience can be yours for between 50,000 and 70,000 Marriott Bonvoy points a night. Trust me, it’s worth the splurge.

In London, you can find a handful of great hotels where the toilet might be the start of your vacation. At The Londoner, a new luxury hotel in Leicester Square, Toto Washlets with all the bells and whistles, including heated seats, are the norm. And if you fall in love like I did, you can even buy your own Toto Washlet to easily install in your own bathroom.

Other London hotels with heated toilet seats include the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park and the Category 8 London Marriott Hotel Park Lane, which can be booked for between 70,000 and 100,000 points.

Another place to warm up your derriere is at The Coachman, a stylish boutique hotel on the California side of Lake Tahoe. There, you can spend a winter’s day skiing or snowboarding before returning to your chic room complete with a Brondell’s Lumawarm heated toilet seat. And what can be better after a long day on the slopes than knowing you can take off your heavy snow gear and relax on a luxurious toilet that will help you warm up?

Expect nothing less than a heated toilet seat — and then some — in luxury hotels across Japan, including the Park Hyatt Tokyo, famous for its role in “Lost in Translation.”  If you’re still looking for some elite-qualifying nights within World of Hyatt, you can also get a little toasty in the bathrooms of the Park Hyatt New York, a hotel that our reviewer called “practically perfect.”

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In Orlando, Florida, escape the madness of theme parks, cartoon characters and princesses with some bathroom solitude on a heated throne at JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa, where guests can trade in between 40,000 and 60,000 for the experience at the Category 6 hotel.

Bottom line

What I love most about hotels are the little luxuries most of us don’t have in our day-to-day lives, like turndown service and breakfast delivered to your room on a tray. Every once in a while, though, you fall so deeply in love with something you enjoyed at a hotel you figure out a way to bring it home with you. For me, the love I could not leave behind came in the form of a heated toilet seat.

My wish for you is that your next hotel stay has a toilet with a heated seat and so many buttons, knobs and symbols you’re afraid to sit down. But trust me: Once you do, the warmth from it will radiate to your heart, and you’ll never see a trip to the bathroom the same way again.

Featured image by Santiparp Wattanaporn/Shutterstock.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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