Fury over toilet signs in British hotel

by | Mar 6, 2018 | Design

Guests at the Pentahotels property in Ipswich, UK, are up in arms about some offensive signage being used on the toilet doors

Guests at the Pentahotels property in Ipswich, UK, are up in arms about some offensive signage being used on the toilet doors. Customers have been tweeting complaints about the archaic signage, which the hotel tried to shake off as “light hearted”. We found out more.

Pentahotels “stuck in the 1950’s”

In an age where movements across the board are promoting inclusivity and equality, it is perhaps no surprise that some guests were angered by some badly thought out signage on restrooms in a British hotel. Toilets at the Pentahotels location in Ipswich, UK, were labelled with images which many guests deemed archaic, offensive and sexist. The male bathroom was emblazoned with the image of a man that had a thought bubble coming out from his head that said “Football” in the middle, while the female bathroom’s image was of a female figure thinking about “shopping”. Several guests who had stayed at not only the hotel’s Ipswich branch, but also at a location in Inverness, filed official complaints, left unsavoury reviews mentioning the offending bathroom imagery and tweeted the hotel directly to voice their concerns. They felt that the imagery was tone deaf, antiquated and reductive, with some women saying that they liked football and not shopping, and vice versa for the men. Elliot Howells, a 25 year old technology consultant from London, said, “I could not believe in 2017 they were using football and shopping as identifiers of gender on toilet doors.” Engineer Chloe Hinder, 25, had a similar response, saying, “It’s so subtle and I feel like it legitimises that kind of attitude. I found it shocking really – it suggests all women are good for shopping while men are going to the football. I would describe it as sexist. It’s stereotyping men as well as women. In today’s society why do you need to label everyone? It’s like it’s allowed because it’s not overtly offensive which is more irritating – it’s like it goes under the radar and then nobody is held to account for it.”

Hotel didn’t mean to offend

Pentahotels markets itself as “not a hotel, but a state of mind”. One may wonder which state of mind the marketing and interiors team was in when they chose this particular imagery for the bathroom doors. Although the hotel has not responded to some of the complainants tweets, they did issue a statement addressing the matter. A spokeswoman for the hotel group said: “Penta is a modern and open-minded family who believes in diversity and equal rights. We, the Penta-family, don’t for one second assume that women can be reduced to just being interested in shopping or men in football. The signs were meant to be simple and light-hearted – offence was certainly NOT the motivator of our choice.”

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