The first time I saw something like this in a Swiss Restaurant in Zurich I was really confused. What should it be used for?


(photo by TheoPB, available under CC-by-sa)

Then I was told that you can find those sanitary installations particularly in traditional restaurants that are frequently visited by students and they use it if they drank too much beer.

In my various travels through Europe and North America I haven't seen anything like this. So I'm really wondering if I can tell my fellow travelers that I meet if this is a Swiss/German invention? Maybe because of the lively Studentenverbindungen in Switzerland?

  • 13
    First time I've seen one. Awesome idea - should be in all uni bathrooms...
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 5:01
  • 1
    I've also seen them in German truck stops
    – user141
    Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 6:24
  • 6
    I've never seen such a thing in Germany, and I've lived here all my life. I was really baffled when I just googled and found out that apparently some places in my city (Munich) do have them. Huh. But while there are apparently a few of them out there, they're certainly not common. I'd be very surprised if the average German had ever heard of the word.
    – Cass
    Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 17:19
  • 2
    Never seen that either in Germany, and i spent a few years there... Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 23:52
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    I can't speak to how common this goofy sink structure is, but I can assure you that vomitoriums are common the world over. The English speaking world tends to simply call the, 'exits'. (The word has nothing to do with puking.) Commented Aug 2, 2014 at 10:12

2 Answers 2


I did some research by myself and according to that and your comments, I really think these vomitoriums are particularly available in Switzerland.

In very traditional restaurants or in restaurants that are visited by a lot of students, a lot of Swiss restaurants have them. They are mounted on the wall approximately 1.50 meters above the floor and they have an extra strong flush and large drain. In Switzerland there are a lot of students associations (Studentenverbindungen in German) that regularly have meetings in restaurants. During these meetings they drink really a lot of beer and it is very common that some of them have to vomit because of too much alcohol. To prevent a congested toilet, these restaurants have adapted and built-in these special-purpose vomitoriums.

In other countries the student association doesn't have such a strong and old tradition and therefore it is not necessary to install vomitoriums in restaurants.

  • Actually "a lot" is an exaggeration. I'm 40 years old, always in Switzerland, studies in Zürich and never ever seen one of them.
    – Matteo
    Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 10:15
  • 3
    Of course the original "vomitorium" in Rome was just a passageway in an amphitheatre that let people exit quickly at the end of a show. Commented Aug 15, 2019 at 11:20

No it isn't I have just noticed one in Manchester (UK), see the attached photo.


  • Never seen one before in the UK! Is this in a hostel? Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 12:57
  • 1
    @AnkurBanerjee No a university building
    – user141
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 13:08
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    I'm not sure if this is really a vomitorium. To me the sink looks quite narrow and also the flushing seems not to be extra strong. For me it looks more like a place where you can empty a transportable toilet. I've seen this quite often on camping grounds. Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 16:40
  • @Roflcoptr it is on the 3rd floor, don't think it is for transportable toilets
    – user141
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 17:01
  • 28
    No, it's used to fill buckets of water to clean the floor. That's why it has the NO DRINKING WATER sign above, and the bars allow to put and pull the bucket with less effort. The two sinks allow for quicker refills. And the flushing is a normal one, as you shouldn't have anything else than dissolved dust and water in the bucket (or if you do, you'd better get them from the basin before they enter the still quite narrow exit pipes). You can find them (sometimes hidden in a cabinet) in almost every modern place where they wash the floor, including most of the public Western buildings.
    – tricasse
    Commented Sep 7, 2012 at 0:30

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