It's a question that is as pressing as it is timeless: what unfathomable luxury is left for the guy or girl who has everything? Especially after they've opened up the flat-screen TV, the iPod, the kitchen gizmos they'll never use and the GPS for that late-model sports car they got last year. Well, the only answer that really matters comes in the form of a giant throne of a toilet, just waiting to class up your castle. Admittedly, a high-end toilet, costing thousands upon thousands of dollars, is not everyday fare. It is probably the one item in homes that has not had a real upgrade (let alone a luxury upgrade) since the invention of indoor plumbing. But there is a practical aspect to a luxury toilet enhancement for the guy in your life (OK -- girl, too, but God save the man who tries to give a toilet to his wife). This, unlike the panini press or electronic shoe polisher, is the one item in the house that will always be used. And while the ubiquitous American Standard ( ASD) toilets come with modern features, like any new home products, let's try to think grander than the few hundred dollars you will usually pay for close-coupled flushmeter tanks and pressure-assisted jet flush action. Now is the time. After all, even bathroom jokes, once the epitome of simple and low-brow humor, have gone really high-tech. I've even heard rumor of rocket-launched public toilets wreaking havoc in Japan. Of course, there can be overkill in terms of every luxury item. And the list of high-tech, customized toilets goes on and -- unfortunately for those partial to discretion and good taste -- on. So I see it as part of my civic duty to limit the discussion to my three favorite: the high-end, high-tech, luxury toilets that are, in my subtle estimation, beyond compare. Consider this as a starting point for your own search, so personal is this particular purchase decision. The first one will necessitate a Goldman Sachs bonus -- but it will be a bonus well spent.
Dagobert Wooden Toilet Throne
It is built of solid ash, fit for a king and lists for about $13,000. On the HomeClick Web site, the Herbeau Dagobert Wooden Toilet Throne is described as "a throwback to the medieval era of knights, castles and fairy-tale romance." Chimes ring and a poem by Alfred de Musset is recited when the seat is lifted, and armrests, a candleholder and ashtray complete the seat. Forgive me a quibble with promotional copy, but I'm not sure how many associate fairy-tale romance with giant toilets, at least the women I've known over the years. But that said, this is truly the toilet for the Master of the Universe. One can sit, one can survey, one can ... well, let's move on. To call a toilet "sophisticated" can initially sound like a stretch. But my American Standards seem so pedestrian that perhaps "sophisticated" is proper billing for a loo that is streamlined, sleek and can perform many important tricks. Take the Neorest 600 , made by Toto Toilets. Noiseless, instant refill action takes the tacky sound of machinery clanking and water flowing out of the bathroom experience, and a smooth ion barrier allegedly cleans the bowl with every flush. It has plenty of other bells and whistles (like a sensor that does the flushing for you), but its tankless little body, which can sit perched so elegantly on any bathroom floor, really has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Retail price runs between $5,000 and $6,000. As in every area of technology, the high life and creativity, you do not always have to pay top dollar.
The Fish 'n Flush
In this sense, think of toilets like wine: For $10, you can be surprised what kind of bottle you can get. That's why I want to leave you with an innovative toilet that virtually anyone can afford. AquaOne Technologies, a California-based company, makes a toilet that does double duty (sorry, couldn't resist) as an aquarium -- the Fish 'n Flush ($299). Insert your own groaner about pet fish going down the toilet, but this one converts the traditional opaque, water-filled tank to one for pet fish. It might add a relaxing note to the bathroom experience, though I haven't quite figured out how you would watch them while sitting down. That may be a technological innovation for a future generation.
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