Turkish baths have earned fame for their relaxing and luxurious steam rooms. Turkish bathrooms lack fame through no fault of their own, yet a traveler may find them worth attention, as well as occasional visits.
During a trip to Istanbul in March, I learned that Turkish toilets come in two types: squat, and standard Western pedestal with built-in bidet, which I especially liked. In the photo, the toilet on the left was in our hotel room at the Holiday Inn Şişli in Instanbul, and the one on the right was at the Sultanahmet (Blue) Mosque.
You can find squat toilets in many parts of the world. I had already experienced them at a small café in Paris and at the feria in Córdoba, so when I paid a half-lira (about 70 US cents) at the Sultanahmet Mosque to use its services and encountered this plumbing variety, I knew what to do. You face the door, put your feet on the corrugated areas, bend your knees and hips, hold your clothes out of the way, and go.
Although flush squat toilets exist, this one had a small pail under a faucet in the stall to use to clean the basin when you're done. Some have rolls of toilet paper mounted on the wall, but at this mosque the attendant handed me some paper when I paid to enter. In either case, the used paper goes into a small wastebasket.
Since the Suntanahmet Mosque attracts a lot of tourists, many of the customers were also tourists, and I suspect that the public pay toilets may serve as a means to raise funds. As a former member of a church board, I approve, and I recommend this to other houses of worship that attract visitors. It takes a lot of money to keep up a beautiful building.
The second type, a pedestal or sit-down toilet, is common in the Western world and common enough in Istanbul, too, except for one thing. At the rear, as you can see in the photo, there's a sort of small nozzle. This is a built-in bidet. A handle on the wall turns on the water, which shoots out with uncanny accuracy to help you clean yourself.
It proved far more convenient and preferable to the French-style separate bidet common in Spanish homes, a porcelain pot that is really useful only for washing feet, and even then isn't ideal. But world travelers must adapt. Or else.
— Sue Burke