Airplane bathrooms are, in most cases, boxes of filth. And to avoid having to cram yourself in one of those flying Porta Potties, there’s only one solution: using the airport bathroom. Not all airport bathrooms are created equal, however. Some are bright, clean, and even artsy, while others are old, dingy, and sometimes plain weird. At Denver International Airport, for example, the bathrooms have large two-way windows, which means you have a lovely view of the tarmac where the aircrafts taxi and take off and the pilots and passengers have a lovely view of you after you’ve taken a pee.
For all of the bad airport bathrooms out there, some are also award worthy. For example, the two airport bathrooms nominated by Cintas for the 2022 America’s Best Restroom contest that are designed to be both utilitarian and beautiful, making the inevitable visit to the airport bathroom a pleasant experience rather than just a necessary one.
Newark Liberty International Airport
Newark Liberty International Airport’s acclaimed restroom is located in Terminal B. It was built to create much-needed extra facilities to this part of the airport.
The curved walls of the entrance and exit create privacy from the terminal while eliminating the need for a door, eliminating a high-touch area. A bench, away from the cubicles, allows for travel companions to wait comfortably, and there are water fountains near the entrance and exit for passengers to refill their water bottles. This airport bathroom is an all-gender facility where everyone is welcome, making for a more efficient use of space within the airport. There are cubicles for people with disabilities and changing tables for parents with young children. Privacy and the safety is maintained by fitting a large sink and mirror in each cubicle rather than a line of sinks outside. Each cubicle door extends from floor to ceiling, leaving no exposed room. Outside the cubicles is a long and narrow table where passengers can get their belongings organized before heading to their gate; there are also hooks to hang bags.
But beyond its functionality, this airport bathroom has also been nominated as one of America’s best restrooms for its unique decor. A large map of the world showing all the places people can fly to from Newark is located on the curved entrance wall — an appropriate piece of wall art for an airport. The use of light wood throughout creates a soothing and homely atmosphere, while splashes of bright blue paint cheer up the space alongside large, beautiful photographs of the area around Newark. The choice of blue is an intriguing one for an all-gender airport bathroom since it is often associated with masculinity – orange or green may have been more appropriate. As a third display of art, colorful mosaics with natural themes such as flowers and fruit are found in each cubicle, reminding people that they are indeed in New Jersey, the Garden State.
Tampa International Airport
Also nominated as one of America’s 10 best restrooms, the new bathroom in Tampa International Airport’s Airside C is exceptional, yet very different from the one in Newark Liberty International Airport.
The Tampa International Airport’s celebrated bathroom is separated into a women’s section and a men’s section. Privacy is less of an emphasis compared to the nominated bathrooms in Newark. Cubicle doors have gaps both at the bottom and the top, and the men’s bathrooms have urinals separated by small partitions and that face the sinks’ mirrors.
Like in Newark, this airport bathroom has curved wall entrances and exits instead of doors. Unlike in Newark, however, Tampa’s airport bathroom is fitted with lines of sinks and mirrors outside the cubicles. Each sink is meant for two users, however each user has their own automatic tap and soap dispenser. An embedded, no-touch trash can is found beside each sink.
Both the men’s and the women’s sections of this airport bathroom have fully ADA-compliant baby changing station. There is also a dedicated nursing room and family restroom that are separate from the main facilities, allowing more flexibility for families with your children.
Tampa International Airport’s bathroom decor is one that highlights a quest for cleanliness. Highly polished stainless steel cubicles and gray and white tiles create a hygienic atmosphere alongside the white angular sinks and chrome mirror frames and taps. While colorful touches like a wall of deep blue stone marks the entrance of the men’s bathroom, and beautiful, large prints of Tampa’s flora and fauna are displayed in both sections, they do little to bring warmth or a sense of geographical space into this very clinical setting. The faux wood tile found in both sections is also insufficient to create any coziness.
Other nominees for the 2022 America’s Best Restroom contest
Cintas has narrowed down the list of the best restrooms in America to 10 contestants, including the bathrooms at Newark Liberty International Airport and Tampa International Airport mentioned above. The other eight finalists are:
- Delaware Botanic Gardens in Dagsboro, Delaware: Clad in wood on the outside, and with minimalist interior decor that lets nature take center stage thanks to large windows, this bathroom fits its setting to perfection.
- Eberly in Austin, Texas: Painted entirely in dark cobalt blue, with accents of brass and soft yellow lights, this restaurant bathroom feels elegant and retro.
- Headlands Lodge and Spa in Pacific City, Oregon: The color palette of this spa bathroom is all about light and dark browns to create an atmosphere reminiscent of Oregon’s beautiful nature. The wave-like concrete sink is a highlight of the space.
- La Pâtisserie in Charleston, South Carolina: This beige and cold bathroom with its striking light fixtures is simply chic.
- No. 5 Bistro & Bar in Sedalia, Missouri: The exposed brick and penny tile floors contrast with the green walls in this stylish bathroom fitted with a vintage sink and mirrors.
- North Hollywood Recreation Center in North Hollywood, California: This utilitarian self-cleaning bathroom has touchless toilet paper and soap dispensers, as well as touchless sinks and hand-dryers.
- Stone Mountain Public House in Stone Mountain, Georgia: This themed bathroom has a sink made from a whiskey barrel and a beer tap in lieu of a faucet.
- Tori Tori in Orlando, Florida: With a green color scheme and a tropical wallpaper, the bathroom in this Japanese bar was modeled after the restroom from the 2004 movie The Aviator.
You can vote for your favorite bathroom online until August 26, 2022.