Airports

Game of thrones: Where is the best public restroom?

10 quirky public loos seek Best US Restroom title

If you travel for business or pleasure, you know the value of a clean public restroom.

Smart business owners know that too. And in this age of selfies and social media, some venues are gaining extra attention by giving guests unusual and creative spaces to do their business.

Now ten of those lovely loos are running for the title of America’s Best Restroom.

Here’s a rundown I put together for CNBC.

Finalists were chosen based on cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality and unique design elements and this year the list ranges from loos in a museum and a zoo to lavs in restaurants, cafes and airports.

Through September 13, the public is invited to cast votes for the coolest commode from amongst the ten finalists. The winning loo will take a throne in America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame and receive $2,500 in facility services from contest sponsor Cintas Corporation.

Take a seat and help choose a winner.

This loo is a zoo

There are animals – behind glass – in two restrooms at the Nashville Zoo in Nashville, Tennessee.

A lush exhibit that’s home to six cotton-top tamarins is visible through a floor-to-ceiling glass window in a women’s restroom, while a ball python snake exhibit can be viewed from a men’s restroom.

“It’s one of the may features that sets us apart from your standard zoo visit,” said Jim Bartoo, Nashville Zoo Marketing and Public Relations Director, “It creates conversation after the guest leaves. They share it with their friends and family. The put it on Facebook and Instagram. This organic, word-of-mouth advertising is extremely valuable to us.”

Gold faucets and candelabras

The lobby restrooms at the Jupiter NEXT hotel in Portland, Oregon have seven stalls with floor-to-ceiling, gray stone-paneled walls arranged in a semicircle around a trough-style shared sink. Special features include gold faucets and candelabra light fixtures.

“We pride ourselves on creating community wherever possible,” said Katie Watkins, Community Manager for the Jupiter, “Our low-lit separated sink area offers a space to connect and say hello to other guests – both local folks and hotel patrons – before heading out to make the most of your stay in Portland.”

Flush with French flair

In Charlotte, North Carolina, La Belle Helene is a brasserie-style restaurant designed by noted Parisian architect Richard Lafond.

“We invested in every part of the restaurant, from the pewter-poured bar and the gorgeous chandeliers and leather banquettes to the bathroom,” said Scott SteenrodManaging Director at Constellation Culinary Group.

The vanity in the unisex restroom offers a shared space for guests and the hand-painted mural reflected in the mirror offers a great backdrop for selfies.

Modern Moroccan

The restrooms at Mourad, a Moroccan fine dining restaurant in San Francisco, California, blend old and new; tradition and innovation. Each fully enclosed stall is decorated in a different color of floor-to-ceiling Moroccan mosaic tile, features a handy marble shelf and mirror and opens to a communal marble-countertop sink.

Go stylish at the mall

At the Natick Mall in Natick, Massachusetts, the women’s restrooms include a waiting room with a chandelier, makeup stations and two private changing/nursing rooms with a lounge chair and outlets. Each stall also includes a marble shelf to hold your bag.

Italian adventures

Each of the four single-user washrooms at Jianna Restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina uses color, texture, tiles, lighting and accessories to reflect a different aspect of Italian culture.

“Our client challenged us to design the restrooms so that they added something special to the great food and the drinks and the overall atmosphere in the restaurant,” said project manager Missy Games, from McMillan Pazdan Smith Architecture. “The restaurant has been open a few years and you still have people coming back to the table saying, ‘Oh wow, did you see the blue bathroom?’ It’s not your typical dinner conversation.”

Bathrooms for a community-oriented brewpub

Processed with VSCO with kp8 preset

The Butcher and the Brewer brewpub in Cleveland, Ohio has an in-house butcher and charcutier and a sense of community that extends to the bathrooms. There, a communal entryway leads to green subway-tiled accents walls and a communal sink. Private stalls for men are on the right; stalls for women are on the left.

Yes, cool loos at New York’s LaGuardia Airport

LaGuardia Airport Terminal B, Location: Queens, New York, LaGuardia Gateway Partners

If the restrooms at LaGuardia Airport’s Terminal B are among the finalists for America’s Best Restroom, there may indeed be hope for the overall success of the airport’s current rebuild. 

With an eye to efficiency, aesthetics and innovation, these new restrooms have stalls large enough to accommodate luggage, trough-style sinks with a raised counter above; live orchids, custom mosaic tiles at the entryway and over the urinals and graphics depicting New York City on the stall doors.

Making good use of Seattle rain 

Swanky new restrooms are part of a massive renovation project for the North Satellite at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

These feature a flushing system that will harvest rainwater to the tune of more than 750,000 gallons a year. The modern loos also have separate sinks inside the ADA stalls, family restrooms with adult changing tables and built-in custodial support closets.         

“We realize no good work is done until the paperwork is done,” said Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper, “And we appreciate that people think we have some of the best seats in the house. We like to think, that’s how we roll.”

Museum quality restrooms

The minimalist design of New York City’s New Museum of Contemporary Art is the work of Pritzker Prize-winning architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the architecture firm SANAA. When it came time to create the restrooms, the Tokyo-based architects settled on a super-graphic wall pattern featuring pixilated cherry blossoms against bright fields of turquoise or orange.

Winning designs for the airport of the future

What will airports look like in the year 2075?

For seven years, Fentress Architects has been running a contest asking students for their ideas about what the airport of the future might look like.

This year, students from more than 50 countries registered about 500 ideas.

Here are the winning proposals. Which are your favorites?

1st Place: Infinity Airport

This design takes inspiration from the torus knot, which appears like two overlapping infinity symbols.

“The general shape of this airport concept combines the complexity of the form and the ideology of infinity by creating the circular and endless concourse system,” explains winner Daoru Wang, of North Carolina State University.

2nd Place: Newark Airport Biophilic Headhouse and Community Nexus

The project uses a rail access and a consolidated terminal to explore the concepts economic analyst John Kasarda described in Aerotropolis, explains Samantha Pires, at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark.

This project “brings economic development to the community that it serves,” said Pires. “It proposes that the Airport of the Future should not be governed by fear and ‘security theater’ that runs modern airports. [Instead] it should be a place for community engagement, job opportunities and a catalyst for neighborhood development and benefit.”

3rd place: London Heathrow 2075

“In this design, a drive-through concept sits below the airport terminal allows aircraft traffic and waiting times to be reduced,” explains winner Christopher Johnson, at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, UK,

“Technological innovations suggest a reduction in physical passports, security and immigration as it moves to an online environment.”

People’s Choice Awards –Y3M

“This design envisions integration of an Elon Musk-like Hyperloop tube system and capsule fuselage technology,” explain winners Chai Yi Yang and Ng Yi Ming of the University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…. “[T]he new model suggests a seamless transition from rail to flight—elementary yet expeditious.”

People’s Choice Award #2:  Six Lane City

“Today, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago extends over 12 square miles, most of which are not fully exploited. We decided to create a new form of city, 650 feet above ground level, which will be built on top of the existing lanes or runways of the airfield,” said winners, Riki Rozenberg, Evelyn Kreslavsky, Mai Whiteson at Tel Aviv University.

Our goal is to create an aerotropolis—an airport which integrates residential solutions, economic opportunities and cultural experiences, which, we think, will bring people closer together.”

First place wins $10,000; 2nd place $3000 and 3rd place $2000. Two People’s Choice Award winners receive $1000 each.

How to make your home smell like an airport

My house smells like an airport. Yours can too.

My story this week for CNBC is about airports, airlines, hotels and other places – including Disney and National Parks – that have unique and, at times, bespoke, fragrances that you may want to take home.

If only we could do a scratch and sniff blog post today!

Singapore’s Changi Airport dazzles passengers with spiral tube slides, a butterfly garden, free movie theaters and the new $1.25 billion Jewel shopping and entertainment attraction built around the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

The award-winning airport also has a special amenity that can’t be seen: a bespoke fragrance that’s diffused into many areas of the sprawling terminals.

The airport’s signature scent has fresh floral notes of orchid, Damask rose, Asian spices and essential oils said to calm nerves and lower blood pressure. And travelers who want that soothing aroma for their homes can have it: a gift shop in Jewel’s mall sells the Changi Scent line of candles, reed diffusers and perfume oils for $14-$18.

Other airports in Asia, as well as in Europe and the United States, scent their public spaces as well.

“Honestly, we borrowed the idea from the hotel industry, where many properties have branded scents that welcome guests to the lobbies,” said Kevin Bumen, director of California’s San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport (SBP).

When the airport opened its new 6-gate terminal, improving the passenger experience was a high priority.

“We decided one thing we could do was to add scent in the ticketing areas and in bag claim,” said Bumen, “Those are the first and last areas passengers experience, and they can be points of stress and confusion. So tested several fragrances and chose a spa-like scent that conveys the idea that the airport is fresh and clean and relaxing.”

Tampa International Airport (TPA) is toying with adding scents into its terminal areas as well.

“We’ve redesigned much of the airport and improved our aesthetics. Now we’re looking into how to enhance that with scents,” said TPA spokeswoman Emily Nipps, “We’ve narrowed it down to three scents and I can tell you we’re sticking with scents that reflect the Tampa Bay Region – ocean, wood, tropics, greenery, that sort of thing.”

Airlines adopt aromas

Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, Delta and United are among the carriers that use bespoke and specially chosen fragrances in some gate areas, lounges, lavatories, jetways and airplane cabins.

Japan’s ANA (All Nippon Airways) has a unique fragrance that it is a blend of 12 natural aromas, including traditional Japanese umbrella-pine, Yoshino Japanese cedar, mint and rosemary. Customers can purchase the scents on-line and on flights with in-flight shopping.

British scent designer Rachel Vosper created a bespoke scent called “Air” for Virgin Atlantic that has notes of lemon, rose, vanilla and essential oils such as lavender and eucalyptus. The airline sells candles featuring the fragrance for 30 British pounds (about $37).

Cathay Pacific’s unique scent, designed by Air Aroma, is a mixture of subtle woods, white florals, and fresh green tea notes, while Delta Air Lines’ “Calm” scent was created with lavender and chamomile.

Alaska Airlines’ “Ocean Citron” scent, used in lounge soaps and hand lotions, was custom made by Seattle-based Antica Farmacista, and is designed to evoke “the allure of the cool blue ocean,” with notes of California Lemon, Soft Jasmine, Lavender, Green Tea, among others. 

To create its signature scent, called “Landing,” United Airlines tried to avoid notes that were too polarizing as well as notes that might be considered too feminine or too masculine, said airline spokeswoman Maddie King. The final product, used in the airline’s lounges and warm towels on board, includes a blend of orange peel, bergamot, cypress, fir balsam, black pepper, black tea, violet wood, sandalwood, cedar, amber, leather and patchouli.

The time and money airlines spend on choosing or developing a signature scent “Is truly all about customer experience,” said Logan Andres, Director of Products and Marketing for ScentAir, a company that provides and creates scents for airlines, airports resorts and hotels as well as casinos, stores, spas, auto dealerships and even doctors’ offices and funeral homes.

“Our research on this found that for airline passengers a good smelling and welcoming gate area while you’re waiting for you plane is only second behind having someplace to plug in your smartphone. And it was more important than cushy seats. We were kind of surprised.”

Aroma to go

It’s not surprising that many travelers want to take home a nice-smelling souvenir of a place they’ve enjoyed.

Disney has a new line of plush toys infused with the scent of iconic park foods, including Mickey Mouse ice-cream bars and pizza slices and Minnie Mouse cupcakes and donuts.

Paddywax sells a collection of candles with scents inspired by the country’s national parks.

In addition to raising funds for the National Park Foundation, “These scented candles transport you to the wilderness of our national parks, filling the mind with treasured memories from trails and vistas experienced with loved ones,” said Stefanie Mathew, the National Park Foundation’s senior vice president of corporate partnerships.

Sometimes, the souvenir scents are free.

Through its Scent Concierge program, guests at Hotel Spero in San Francisco can choose a wooden wand infused with one of four distinct scents and either take their wand home or use it to create a special fragrance in their rooms.  

And at Casa Velas in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, guests are given a small complimentary bottle of the hotel’s signature citrus-lavender scent as a checkout amenity.

“Research has shown that smell triggers emotions and memories,” said Luis Angarita, the resort’s Managing Director, “So we thought an amenity of our signature scent would be the perfect takeaway for our guests. Whenever they open the bottle, they’ll think of their special times at Casa Velas.”

And maybe book another trip.

Do you notice the scent of airports, airplane, hotels or other venues you visit? Would you want to take any of those scents home?

Travel Tidbits from an airport near you

Welcome to all the new Stuck at The Airport subscribers who have signed up over this past week. We suspect many of you found us through the mention of our site in this recent New York Times article about airport lounges.

But however you found us, we’re happy you’re here.

Here are some airport amenities we’re been researching this week.

Cruise to SEA airport luggage-free

Thnking abot taking a cruise to Alaska? Good for you!

More than a million cruise passengers pass through Seattle – and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) on their way to and from Alaska each summer.

And they all seem to bring along a lot of luggage.

When all those people finish their cruises and head back home, the bag check-in lines at the airport get really, really long.

In fact, Port of Seattle officials often point out that it is cruise season, not the Christmas/New Year holiday when the airport experiences its peak passenger count.

A good solution is the complimentary Port Valet service.

Cruise passengers can check-in for their flights and check their bags before they get off the ship. Port Valet does the bag transfers and the cruisers can hang around the city luggage- free before heading to the airport.

Whle the luggage transfer is free; regular checked bag fees apply.

Learn how to save a life while waiting for a flight

Los Angeles International is the latest airport to get a Hands-Only CPR Training Kiosk from the American Heart Association.

More than a dozen other airports have these kiosks as well and in just five minutes – the time it takes scroll through your Instagram feed (again) – you can watch a short instruction video (in English or Spanish), practice on a rubber manikin, get feedback on your technique and learn how to save a life.

 Get coffee made by a robot

In two locations at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport and, starting this week, in Terminal 3 at San Francisco International Airport, travelers can have coffee drinks prepared and delivered by robotic baristas in a Briggo automated Coffee Haus kiosk. 

Orders can be sent ahead via the app, no pre-caffeine chit-chat is required, local coffee blends are featured, and there’s a robot on duty 24 hours a day.


Sensory-friendly Space with real airplane seating

Going to the airport and getting on a plane can be stressful for anyone, but kids or adults with autism or other special needs may need extra help acclimating and adjusting.

To help out, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) just opened Presley’s Place on Concourse A.

In addition to a calming transition foyer, family room, soundproof adult area, and restroom with adult changing table and adjustable sink, Presley’s Place is the first airport sensory room to also have the walls and floor of a real jet way and a seating section from a realistic airplane cabin, courtesy American Airlines.

Have you come across a new airport amenity during your travels? Let us know in the comment section below. If your tip is featured, we’ll send you a fun travel-themed souvenir.

Best U.S. airport? Worst? Fodor’s has a list.

There are lots of travel awards and “Best of” lists out there in travel.

And now Fodor’s Travel has come out with its own and airports, of course, are on the list.

“Airports are like living creatures – sprawling, complicated, chameleon-like things that are constantly expanding and renewing themselves,” said Jeremy Tarr, Fodor’s Travel editorial director, “What is today’s best airport can quickly become next year’s worst.”

This year’s list names California’s Hollywood Burbank Airport (BUR) – formerly the Bob Hope Airport – as the Best U.S. Airport, with nearby Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) as the worst.

“Burbank is an airport free of most of the hassles that take the fun out of travel plans,” said Fodor’s managing editor Rachael Leavitt. “It’s an agreeable airport in a perfect location, which is why it’s at the top of our list of airports to love.”

LAX?

LAX Theme Building

Fodor’s gave LAX low points for how difficult it is to get in and out of, especially with several construction projects underway. “Ironically,” notes Fodor’s, “Most of the construction projects are for features that will ultimately improve getting around the infamous LAX ‘horseshoe’” roadway.

“One day the construction will end. And, one day, there will be a people-mover that will connect the yet-to-be-open Crenshaw Metro Line to the airport,” Tarr said. “But until then, LAX has earned a spot at the top of our Worst Airports list – and we’re loathing it.”

Here are the other airports that made Fodor’s list. Let me know if you agree:

Best International Airport: Singapore Changi Airport

Best Airport for Shopping: London Heathrow

Best Airport for Foodies: Newark-Liberty International Airport

Best Tiny Airport: Jackson Hole Airport – Wyoming   

Fodor’s also gave awards to airlines

Best US Airline: Delta

Best Int’l Airline: Emirates

Best airline for plus-sized passengers: Jet Blue

Best Budget ‘Bougie’ Experience: Norwegian

Best Airline for Blowing your Budget: Etihad

Best Airline for Flying with Pets: American

Tiny Airline You Should Try: Air Dolmoti (Runner up: Safari Link)

Best Airline for Foodies: JAL

Best Airline for Cocktail Connoisseurs: Japan Airlines

Best Airline for Getting Sleep: JetBlue’s Mint

Best Airline for Flying with Kids: Qatar

Airline with the Friendliest Staff: Southwest