Going to the bathroom in public is usually, at best, an uneventful occurrence. You get up, you do your business, and unless you’re a family-values-toting congressman in Florida, you return without much excitement. But some places around the country put a little extra effort into their restrooms by using art, design, and sensory experiences to make using the bathroom as much a part of your visit as anything else. The business products wizards at Cintas give an annual award for best restroom in America, and just released their nominees for 2018. You can take a look and vote for your favorite right here. But before you do, take a look at the nominees and see which one you’d most like to stay in a little longer than you should.
1. Barrio — Chicago, Illinois
Love shoes? Hate stopping the party just because you need to use the bathroom? Well this Chi-town Mexican joint has the bathroom of your dreams. Never ones to let the magic of tequila go — literally — down the drain, restaurant designers put a big, shiny disco ball right over the sink area in the ladies’ room, so your agave-soaked eyes can marvel at the reflections. The upper parts of the walls are also covered in a loud pattern of high-heeled shoes. So if watching the shiny lights gets old, you can still do a little aspirational shopping.
2. Bryant Park — New York City, New York
The words “New York City public bathroom” have actually been known to cause spontaneous vomiting in some people. But those folks obviously haven’t been over to the much-ballyhooed new baños at Bryant Park. The historic old stone structure underwent a $270,000 renovation and has transformed itself from septic tank to an eco-friendly rose garden. The bathroom is filled with fresh flowers and classical music, like you’ve transported yourself from a public park to a VIP suite. There are also full-time attendants there to hand you towels after you wash your hands in the ceramic sinks set under glass mosaic walls. The whole thing uses energy created by running water to power itself, with LED lights and a water-efficient apparatus making this one of the greenest bathrooms in the world.
3. Dream Hollywood Hotel — Los Angeles, California
Usually taking pictures in an LA bathroom is reserved for paparazzi and Instagram “models.” But now pretty much anyone hitting the head at the Dream Hotel will want to snap some pictures with the views out over Hollywood Hills and Griffith Observatory. The floor-to-ceiling windows are in the common faucet area, so you won’t look any weirder than your run of the mill fashion influencer taking selfies here. The sexy dark tiles and long oval mirrors won’t hurt your photo composition much either.
4. Green Bay Botanical Garden — Green Bay, Wisconsin
Though we never thought too hard about how Bilbo Baggins did his business, but if we did we probably would have imagined something like the bathroom at the Green Bay Botanical Garden. This adorable little washroom is built into a garden hillside, almost hiding under the scenic walkway that runs above. The bathroom is done up in classic brick, with sunshine mosaics on the wall and bright colors throughout. Though it’s not as sleek as some of the other nominees, its exterior looks like something straight out of a fairytale.
5. Hotel La Jolla — La Jolla, California
You’ll never have to justify extended bathroom trips if you’re excusing yourself at Curio Collection by Hilton’s new San Diego digs. The bathroom has floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over glorious hills and the Pacific Ocean, with its own balcony to step out on and get some fresh Pacific air. Whether you’re in a stressful business meeting or just one of those happy hours that begs for intermittent escapes, this bathroom provides your moment of Zen to recharge so you can face the rest of the afternoon.
6. J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge — Sanibel, Florida
Between the stories of people walking alligators through liquor stores and the aforementioned politicians, sometimes it’s easy to forget what a naturally beautiful place Florida is. These bathrooms immerse you in Sunshine State beauty with life-sized sculptures of some of the state’s trademark animals (no, Pitbull is not an animal), as well as murals of mangroves, beaches, and marine life all over the walls. Stalls are decorated in stunning Florida wildlife photography, with educational blurbs on the backs of the doors. So you can learn more than you ever thought you’d know about pelicans while doing your business.
7. MI VIDA — Washington, D.C.
This Mexican restaurant in the nation’s capital takes visitors from its lively cantina setting into what can best be described as a subway station from Total Recall. Chrome and metal are the name of the game here, where penny-tile walls and bright, industrial-chic sinks are illuminated with a seductive blue glow that feels very 2084. The neon-pink doors and fancy prison urinals confuse your mind a little more than it should be when doing something as simple as taking a bathroom break. But for a restaurant bathroom unlike anything you’ve ever seen before, stopping for a margarita here is worth the trip.
8. Morgan Manufacturing — Chicago, Illinois
This event space in Chicago’s West Loop is one of the great examples of an old industrial space transformed into a marvel of 21st-century cool. Nowhere is this more apparent than the bathrooms, where the walls are made of mirrored subway tiles, and light fixtures are a dangling menagerie of repurposed pipe and bright crystal. The space feels about four times as big as it is, with elevated ceilings and exposed grating running a vertical path over a wide sink area with a leather ottoman in the middle. And Jenny’s phone number will be extra easy to read when 867-5309 is scrawled on pristine white marble stall doors.
9. The Mud House — St. Louis, Missouri
Who says classic board games are dead? Instead of paying Candy Crush Saga as you kill time in the bathroom at this St. Louis café, relive your childhood of Sorry! and Monopoly while gazing at old game boards plastered on the walls. Trying to actually play them might prove difficult, since metal top hats don’t stick so well to the ceiling, but this bathroom does nostalgia better than any new wash closet on the list, and certainly will be an education of sorts for anyone born in the smartphone era.
10. The Progress — San Francisco, California
Imagine you took the inside of Kesha’s brain and turned it into a bathroom. That’s more or less what the owners of this SF eatery did when designing their gender-neutral bathroom, where 250 pounds of glitter cover the walls, floor, and ceiling. The good news is the glitter is sealed to the surfaces, so you won’t go back to the table looking like you got a lapdance while you were away.
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