One night during my week in Taiwan, instead of going out for street food, I stayed in my room at the Wen Wan Resort on Sun Moon Lake …and tried to figure out my toilet.

Wen Wan Resort is one of the nicer hotels I’ve ever stayed, very understated but with details that let you know the designers were trying to think of everything to make guests feel as comfortable as possible.

Travelers more worldly than I have no doubt encountered robotic loos, but this was my first time, and I have to say, it gave me pause. The lid opens automatically and New Age music starts playing at a subliminal level, apparently triggered by a motion sensor, but that was just the start of my consternation, surprise, and eventual total buy-in to the concept.

The auto-open feature is very nice when getting up in the middle of the night.

For guys, instead of having to kick up the lid with one food, a button press raises the  lid automatically; and when it’s time to lower the lid, you don’t have to do the kick-down-toe-balance-and-lower routine: you just press a button. Every action that this toilet takes is button activated.

The four-speed bidet saves paper; I don’t know why we don’t put these devices on American toilets.

Ray Kroc, the Oak Parker who founded the McDonald’s corporation, always reiterated to his crew the importance of clean washrooms. He felt that not only are clean washrooms a sanitation issue, they’re a service issue, and perhaps even more importantly, they directly impact customer perceptions. If washrooms are clean, customers will get the message that other, less obvious service issues are being addressed.

I couldn’t agree more.

And having this marvelous device in my hotel room sent the message to me that management was really making an effort to make me happy. And that’s always a good thing.

Somewhat less enthusiastically, I was talked into having a coke at Taipei’s Modern Toilet restaurant, where diners sit on ceramic thrones to have dinner. I can’t imagine how uncomfortable it might be to actually consume food in this environment, but there were several tables full at almost midnight. No explaining taste.

And on the subject of taste, this will be the last post I do about toilets for some time to come…or probably ever again.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...