After many a year living in the lowlands I’ve made some serious progress in deciphering the Dutch: I’ve mastered the art (and pronunciation!) of gezelligheid, I’ve gotten used to the constant presence of Dutch directness, agendas and red pants. Heck, you might even find me with the curtains wide open and chewing on drop.

However, there is one mystery that continues to evade me. One particularity I can’t seem to get a straight answer on: why the heck can you only find *cold water* in Dutch toilet sinks?!?  Why my friend, why?? Why is there that one lonely tap? And why is its only job to provide glacial H2O? What could possibly be the logical explanation behind said torture?


I would LOVE to think there is something else going on here. Something else other than the obvious: sheer Dutch cheapnessthriftiness“. So please, someone (anyone!) fill in the blanks here and give me another plausible explanation. Don’t tell me that the Dutch are really so incredibly cheap that they are worried about those extra few cents in providing their guests with warm water to wash their hands. If so, then I’m afraid I’ve lost all hope for these peeps!

I can understand the argument that in those charming old canal houses and cozy brown cafés the ancient plumbing doesn’t allow for much. But head to a newly built apartment, restaurant or even a modern office tower in Amsterdam’s WTC, enter the toilet and you are still destined to find only icy water flowing from those shiny new taps.

Now folks, you are probably reading this and thinking “what’s the big deal here?” And I’m here to tell you: it is a big deal! This flat, peculiar little country spends a lot of its time being grey and cold and wet and the simple act of washing your hands without gasping from the arctic temperature goes a long way on a Dutch winter’s day!

Am I alone in this one? Is it that Dutch hands are simply more resistant to the cold? If you grow up dousing your hands in ice water multiple times a day, do you then longer feel the cold? And what about basic hygiene? Does cold water really do the trick?

typical dutch sink

Tiny sinks for big people

Don’t even get me started on the size of these tiny sinks! They are normally less than 10 inches wide and 5 inches deep which essentially is useful for washing one finger at a time (especially for those freakishly tall Dutch folk)!

Perhaps my concerns fall on deaf ears. Perhaps Dutch people have never known the luxury of washing their hands in warm water. Perhaps when they travel abroad and wash their hands in warm water for the first time, their hearts are suddenly filled with joy and find themselves start humming for no reason! Perhaps, one day they will bring this civilized behaviour back to the lowlands. Perhaps…