Brits and the Bidet

Because the homes I feature tend to be smarter than most – not necessarily flash or hyper-expensive, just stylish, up to the minute, well equipped – I’m accustomed to seeing bidets in homeowners’ modern bathrooms. I’ve never really thought about it much since I regard the bidet as a normal fixture: we’ve always had them at home, and the fitters are installing a new bathroom as I write – including of course a new wall-hung bidet. My wife is from  Continental Europe, though I’d never thought that was a factor; bidets are just a commonsense piece of sanitaryware. I rarely photograph them: in the world of interiors photography for home-interest glossy magazines, there’s a slightly prudish pretence that people don’t have bidets, loos, TVs, electric power sockets…

But recently I’ve been networking with a few bathroom suppliers, seeking fresh leads to potential feature homes, and the topic arose in conversation. People running all manner of bathroom businesses, including some very upmarket suppliers indeed, have been telling me that bidets are still comparatively unusual in the UK.

Mallorca bidet: fitted as a matter of course into a Brit-owned apartment in Palma

It surprises me – though on reflection, even the sort of homes I feature are not universally equipped with bidets: off the top of my head maybe 40% at most of the homes I’ve featured (or at least, when I’ve done specific bathroom features, for the kbb titles) have had a bidet. Even the superior one-off new-build homes that I feature for Build It and other titles, don’t always have bidets – and such homes are invariably put together by people who are not necessarily wealthy but who are well informed, determined, have a good eye for design, décor and style, and don’t skimp on the fixtures & fittings. They’re also very good at researching the market, and sourcing things from all over – one couple I interviewed drove back from Holland with five WCs on the Volvo’s roofrack, having found a particular model for much less than they were here! – but they don’t necessarily fit a bidet…

I’ve just been talking to my friend Judy who does the styling on some of my house shoots. She bought a house in Puglia which she’s slowly doing up, so I asked about bidets.

“In my Italian house I have a bidet in the downstairs bathroom,” she explained. “But when doing a new bathroom I decided to save a bit of cash and not have a bidet. One local Italian friend was shocked… no bidet!! She told me that I’d never be able to sell the house to an Italian if there was a bathroom with no bidet…They wouldn’t care at all if there were no bath, but the lack of a bidet was unthinkable.”

Bidet installation in an unfinished UK bathroom: untypical?

I have limited experience of bathrooms in North America or other continents; I’ve seen many bathrooms in France and Germany, plus a few in Mediterranean countries, where bidets are certainly more common than in Britain. So is an aversion to the bidet – or simply a lack of interest – just an Anglo Saxon thing? My teenage son finds them embarrassing: he thinks his friends would find it weird if they knew we had a bidet! So just how typical a Brit is he, I wonder…

Share this:

Comments are closed.