People need to relieve themselves and bathe somewhere, but nothing says they can't do it in style. History is full of absolutely insane famous bathrooms, from Napoleon's marble-encrusted retreat to Marie Antoinette's coveted flushing toilet. And then there's the Gilded Age – true to the spirit of the times, the Garrett family's bathroom had a gold toilet seat. These bathrooms in history are covered in artwork, adorned with velvet, and oh-so-fabulous.
True, not every historic bathroom is what a modern person would consider top-of-the-line, unless you're a fan of port-o-potties. In fact, ancient Roman royalty rarely got to use the porcelain (or rather, stone) throne without being bothered. Their bathrooms were almost entirely public and they saw bodily functions as a social activity. Bathing was seen as a total luxury, and you'd be hard pressed to find a pool of water, let alone an actual shower, in most historical royal residencies. It wasn't until Marie Antoinette popularized the flushing toilet in the 1700s that people stopped using latrines and chamber pots.
This bathroom history timeline will show you some of the most luxurious bathrooms on the planet – at least, at the time.
Versailles became synonymous with opulence during the reign of King Louis XIV, and that grandeur continued with Louis XV. He continued rebuilding and redecorating the palace, and this bathroom was one of the last things added to Versailles before his death. The woodwork was specially crafted with aquatic themes, and the green marble fireplace kept any bathing royals cozy. According to some sources, Louis didn't use the room for hygiene; he used it to store his personal accounts.
Historians debate whether this structure was a summer home or a massive bathroom, but either way, Queen Mary had plenty of space to do her business. This quirky little house, located in Edinburgh, Scotland, is allegedly where Mary would bathe in sweet white wine during the late 16th century. Remember, back then baths were a luxury rather than necessity. Is there anything more lavish than filling up the tub with wine and taking a dip?
Napoleon Bonaparte had a lavish bathroom built for him at Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy. The room, constructed in 1790-1799, featured ornate tiles, pillars, and statues, as well as plenty of sunlight. But Napoleon never actually used that bathroom himself, though the reasons why are unclear. Perhaps he wasn't in Italy that much, or maybe he didn't like the idea of those statues staring at him while he bathed.
Socialite Virginia Courtauld may not have been royalty, but this insanely wealthy wife lived in the luxurious Eltham Palace. Before Courtauld moved in during the 1930s, these digs belonged to Henry VIII. Courtauld's bathroom, located off her private master suite, was encrusted in gold leaf and onyx. The expansive space has Grecian-inspired elements, like a statue of Psyche resting above lavish bronze bathtub taps.