The Difference Between Private, Attached, and Shared Bathrooms

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A private bathroom is one in a public building or lodging that is designated for use by a specific person or persons. Attached bathrooms are en-suites or Jack and Jills and are used only by those with access from the adjoining bedroom. Shared bathrooms are those accessible by many or unlimited people.

Today, a bathroom is no longer meant to be just a place in which you can do your business and move along. Nowadays, bathrooms in households and hotels are equipped with finishing’s and furniture to ensure the utmost relaxation and comfort. Yet, being able to soak away your day in peace and privacy depends on the type of bathroom that is made available to you. 

Would you be willing to share a sponge with a stranger in an attached bathroom, or would you demand privacy in one of your own? Keep scrolling so that you can make an informed choice when booking your next vacation.

What is Meant By Private Bathrooms?

A private bathroom, usually applied in the context of hotels, guest houses and other public lodgings, is intended solely for the individuals who paid for use of the specific room. It can only be used by those who have access to the room or unit.

Some business offices and other such buildings will also have a private bathroom intended for the use of only the person whose office it is.

Sometimes, a private bathroom is not attached, but privacy is gained through keeping the door locked and only those who are allowed to use the bathroom will have a key.

What is an Attached Bathroom?

An attached bathroom, most commonly known as an en-suite or master bathroom, is usually a great selling point for most homeowners or vacation seekers.

This bathroom, accessible only through the attached bedroom, is meant for the sole use of that bedroom’s occupants, which is highly desirable. In fact, studies in the UK show that having an en-suite is also known to increase the value of your property significantly.

In some private homes or public lodgings, attached bathrooms can also refer to a single bathroom with two access points from adjacent rooms. You probably better know this style as a Jack and Jill bathroom.

When travelling with family or friends, sharing a Jack and Jill style bathroom does not seem too catastrophic, but sharing it with a stranger is less ideal. So, it is best to book two adjacent rooms with the people you are travelling with, or else you may get a surprise interruption from an unknown hotel guest! 

Related article: Jack and Jill Bathroom Etiquette

What is a Shared Bathroom?

A shared bathroom can be described as exactly what it sounds like—shared. These bathrooms are common in public places like restaurants or malls and are created to be shared by all the patrons.

 Toilet cubicles reflecting in big beveled mirrors black granite wash basin counter soap dispenser and urinals

Most university accommodations and some public lodgings, like hostels, will also have a shared bathroom and you will either have to wait your turn, or there will be a roster drawn up and you will only be able to use it during your allotted time.

Shared bathrooms can also be found in private households, unattached to any bedroom. The various occupants of the house will share the bathroom with each other as well as guests that may come to their home. In this setting, these are more commonly known as hall access bathrooms.

Private Vs Shared Bathrooms

Private bathrooms are intended for use by limited individuals (such as a couple who has booked a stay in a hotel); shared bathrooms are not limited for use by specific individuals. 

Having your own bathroom when on a vacation or business trip gives you the peace of mind that your toiletries will be safe from the hands of other guests (or saves you from having to pack up again every time you use the bathroom). This is not a possibility with public shared bathrooms.

The facilities of a private bathroom are most likely to be clean. With shared bathrooms, you never quite know what state it will be in or what kind of odours you’re likely to encounter!

Private bathrooms tend to have a single toilet, one or two hand basins with a vanity, and a bath and/or shower. Shared bathrooms in public places will usually have multiple toilets (in cubicles) and numerous sinks placed next to each other. Sometimes you will find bathing facilities in shared bathrooms in places such as gyms, spas, university residences, and hostels, but there will be more of these than in private bathrooms. 

If you are interested in the differences between a toilet and bathroom, you can read my article on the various names and styles of bathrooms.

In homes, shared bathrooms may have the same fittings as private bathrooms, while some only have a toilet and basin. In the UK and Australia, it is commonplace for shared bathrooms to be made of two adjacent rooms—one with just a toilet and sometimes a sink, and the other with a shower/bath and vanity.

Attached Vs Shared Bathrooms

Attached bathrooms in the context of hotels and other public lodgings are meant to be shared by more than one person or party. For instance, you could be sharing an attached bathroom with the other hotel guests in the room next to yours. However, you will be sharing with fewer people than with an actual shared bathroom.

In the context of an attached bathroom being an ‘en-suite’ or master bathroom, these are less likely to be shared by anyone other than the inhabitants of the bedroom as access to the bathroom is through a bedroom, which may be considered ‘off-limits’ to some guests. This is wholly different from a shared bathroom, whether in a public or home setting.

Private Vs Attached Bathrooms

Probably the biggest difference between private and attached bathrooms is the context. Private bathrooms are more in the context of public places, while attached bathrooms are used more for home settings.

Private bathroom of a hotel on the left; and an attached bathroom of a residential house on the right

In a public setting, an attached bathroom can be attached to more than one room, and thereby be accessed by more than one party. In comparison, a private bathroom is not necessarily attached to another room, but only the person for whom it is designated can use it.

When staying in a hotel or lodge, guests are likely to prefer having their own private bathrooms than sharing an attached one with neighbouring room’s guests, unless they are travelling with them. There are few things worse than taking a shower, constantly looking at the door to make sure you latched it properly! 

Attached bathrooms, when referred to as ‘en-suites’, are the ultimate private bathroom in a home or hotel. Usually found in the master bedroom, these bathrooms are rarely used by guests or other inhabitants of the home, ensuring the utmost privacy and surety that your facilities will always be in the same condition in which they were left.


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