airport bathrooms

BWI Airport’s loo is America’s Best Restroom

It’s safe to say they’re bowled over in Baltimore today to learn that Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) is the winner of the 2023 America’s Best Restroom Contest.

BWI’s winning loos are part of a $55 million airport renovation program that includes expanded and improved restrooms on concourses B, C, and D.

Bright and spacious, BWI’s upgraded bathrooms have windows that provide both natural light and privacy.

The new restrooms also have features such as touchless fixtures, full-height stalls and doors, extra space for stowing roller bags, super-helpful red light/green light occupancy indicators for the stalls, and sensors that alert the airport’s custodial staff when supplies need to be refilled.

There are even seating areas where travelers may wait for their companions.

“We’re honored to be recognized by Cintas and contest voters for our commitment to providing a positive passenger experience and outstanding facilities,” said Ricky Smith, Executive Director/CEO of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. “Passengers rank restrooms as an airport’s number one amenity. That’s why we work so hard to provide creative, clean, and inviting restrooms to make travel more enjoyable.”

BWI’s restrooms won out this year over a strong list of nationwide public restroom contenders that include clean and charming examples located in a dive bar, a hotel, a public rest area, restaurants, a craft brewery, a ski resort, and a lightship.

Here’s the list of the other finalists for this year:

•             Clear Lake and Des Moines River Safety Rest Areas (Jackson, Minnesota)

•             Drusie & Darr (Nashville, Tennessee)

•             El Rio (San Francisco, California)

•             Frying Pan (New York, New York)

•             Hell ‘n Blazes Brewing Company (Melbourne, Florida)

•             Juban’s Creole Restaurant (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

•             Little America (Salt Lake City, Utah)

•             Rabbit Hole (Greenville, South Carolina)

•             Snowbasin Resort (Huntsville, Utah)

As the winner of this year’s Cintas-sponsored America’s Best Restroom contest, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport gets $2,500 in Cintas products and services to help maintain its award-winning restrooms.

The airport’s restrooms will also have a seat of honor in the America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame.

This isn’t the first time an airport has ascended to the throne in this contest.

Last year Tampa International Airport (TPA) took top honors for its first set of renovated restrooms featuring large Florida-themed graphics and a wide range of convenient features.

Who left this rat at Norway’s Bergen Airport?

You may notice the heartwarming news and social media posts about airports working hard to reunite left behind stuffed animals with their rightful owners.

Like the story of 5-year-old Ezekiel, who was reunited with the teddy bear he left behind at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) last month.

Or, the story that likely started the heartwarming “airports goes-all-out-to-reunite stuffed animal with child” trend. Back in 2015, Tampa International Airport took a stuffed tiger named Hobbes on an airport adventure before sending Hobbes home.

We love these stories.

So, when making our way through Norway’s Bergen Airport (BGO) last week at about 5 am we did a double-take when were spotted a stuffed rat taped to a lane post.

It was very early in the morning. But we did notice that Bergen Airport is spotless. So it didn’t seem likely that the stuffed rat was there as a social comment. Nor did it seem like an official guidepost to point travelers to their gates.

So all we could conclude was that this stuffed rat had been left behind by a small child. And that it may soon show up on Bergen Airport’s social media feed in search of its owner.

We’ll check back to see.

Other amenities spotted at Bergen Airport

Besides the stuffed rat, there are some other sights at Bergen Airport that made us smile.

The sign for the bathroom employs the hard-to-miss universal symbols for “gotta go, now.”

And the kids’ play area in the main terminal area has this fun hopscotch board with an airplane, of course, in the top box.

Have you spotted a cool amenity (or a stuffed rat) and an airport? Send us a photo and we’ll try to include it in a future post on Stuck at the Airport.

Airport restrooms in the running for top toilet prize

As travelers, we are all too familiar with the search for a clean public restroom. We also know the delight of entering a public bathroom that is not just clean but blessed with quirk and charm.

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, clean and super-sanitized public restrooms are even more important.

So, we are delighted to see restrooms at both Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and the Jamacia Station on JFK International Airport’s AirTrain people mover line are finalists in the 2020 America’s Best Restroom contest. 

Anyone can vote for the winning throne through October 19. The top toilets get a seat in America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame and restroom cleaning services worth more than $2500 from contest sponsor Cintas.

Here are the finalists:

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

All gate-side restrooms at DFW Airport are now super ‘smart’.

The bathrooms have touch-free technology and the Tooshlights feature we’ve been raving about that uses red and green lights to indicate which stalls are open.

Digital signage outside each restroom lets passengers know how many stalls are open.

JFK’s AirTrain Jamaica Station – New York, NY

The new restrooms for the Jamaica Station stop on the AirTrain people mover at John F. Kennedy International Airport are nearly three times as large as the previous restrooms. As a nice bonus, the stalls are wide enough to accommodate luggage.

Bancroft Park – Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Bancroft Park restrooms have green, red and yellow lights to show availability. Soap, water, toilet paper, and a dryer are all touchless. Better yet, the restrooms self-clean after every 30 uses and an app lets the maintenance crew know when toilet paper or other supplies are running low.

Gaslight Bar & Grill – Cincinnati, OH

The Gaslight Bar & Grill in Cincinnati, OH is in a building that once served as a branch library. The restrooms have marble tile walls and gold wallpaper as well as touchless faucets and trash cans.

Greeley Square Park – New York, New York

The kiosk-like restroom at Greeley Square Park in NY is decorated with historic photographs and has classical music, rotating seat covers, a full-time attendant, Italian tile, fresh flowers, and an HVAC system for seasonal climate control.

Kimpton Muse Hotel – New York, New York

The Kimpton Muse Hotel restrooms invite guests and diners at the adjacent Muse Bar to pick a stall according to their personality or mood. There are six “sin-inspired” unisex stalls, each with a different theme and design: Glam, Vain, Rebel, Passion, Macho, and Envy.

Portland Japanese Garden – Portland, Oregon

All materials in the restroom at the Portland Japanese Garden – from the texture of the tiles to the design of the fixtures – are chosen for their standalone beauty, as well as functional works of art.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts – Scottsdale, Arizona

Standing ovation? These sleek and modern lavs have terrazzo flooring, glass-tiled walls, and plenty of spacious, stainless-steel stalls.

The lighting system can also be programmed for holidays, special events and specific audiences.

Swift’s Attic – Austin, Texas

Swift’s Attic restaurant in Austin has Gothic-style restrooms with floral-patterned sinks, antique light fixtures, and gold and black striped wallpaper.

The Guild Hotel – San Diego, CA

The Guild Hotel opened in 2019 in a century-old building built as a YMCA. Today the restrooms off the lobby have beautiful marble sinks with striking lighting, tiling and mirrors.

Rate the bathroom at Singapore’s Changi Airport

Some of the world’s best airport restrooms are at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

This restroom not only has these lovely pedestal sinks, it has a separate ‘powder room’ area where women can freshen up and apply the cosmetics they’ve purchased in the store just outside.

There’s even a digital feedback screen, asking travelers to rate the restroom.

In the few moments I hung around taking pictures, a half dozen women stepped up to the screen, smiled, pressed excellent and were on their way.

And, yes, the woman in the picture was there on duty keeping the restroom neat and tidy.

Have you seen an award-winning airport bathroom?

Been in any great airport bathrooms lately?

If so, then take a moment nominate it for the 2010 America’s Best Restroom Award.

This is the ninth year the Cintas Corporation has been running this wacky contest and there have been some pretty swanky loos among the contestants.  But back in 2005, the grand prize winner was none other than the Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM) in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Here’s a description of their winning restrooms:

Fort Smith Regional Airport prides itself on the Southern hospitality that it displays for its visitors. The restrooms are always clean, with sanitation being of utmost importance. Beautiful décor and comfortable seating, both inside and outside the stalls, compliment the restrooms’ cleanliness. Dried flower arrangements are always on display. And you’ll never have to manually flush a toilet or turn on a sink here—everything is automated.

Sounds like a lovely spot for a traveler to take a tinkle, doesn’t it?

Nominations for the best restroom – airport or not, in the United States and in Canada – are being accepted through through April 26, 2010. 10 finalists will be announced in July and the public will get to vote for the favorites, with the winner announced in  September.

Besides the Fort Smith Airport, other winners have included the University of Notre Dame; The Grand Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi; Kohler Art Center in Sheboygan, Wisconsin; Jungle Jim’s International Market in Fairfield, Ohio; Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee; and in 2009, Shoji Tabuchi Theatre in Branson, Missouri.

You can see the winners and the runners up in the America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame.