airport restrooms

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.

MSP: 5 Things We Love About Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

Our ‘5 Things We Love About…” series celebrating features and amenities at airports around the country and the world lands today at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP).

MSP sits on land that, back in 1914, was home to Snelling Speedway.

Auto racing gave way to airmail service and Speedway Field. In 1923 the airport was renamed Wold-Chamberlain Field in honor of two local pilots who lost their lives in combat during World War 1.

The airport’s first passenger service was in 1929 and in 1948 the MSP acquired its current name: Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Please keep in mind that some of the amenities we feature here may be currently unavailable due to health concerns. We’re confident they’ll be back.

5 Things We Love About Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport

1. Award-winning restrooms at MSP

Clean bathrooms are an important airport amenity. Add art and an airport’s bathrooms can become something people talk about and give awards to.

That’s what happened when several sets of MSP restrooms were remodeled to feature stunning artist-made mosaics and the latest in cleaning technology.

In 2016, MSP Airport won first place in an annual contest that crowns America’s best public restroom. That was the first time an airport loo won the award.

2. The arts program at MSP

In 2019, MSP airport presented more than 900 live music and dance performances.

MSP also has permanent public art installations and temporary art exhibits in both terminals. MSP also hosts an annual art show that features work by MSP employees and their families.

This summer, local authors began online readings from their books and Once the pandemic is over, the plan is to have monthly readings in the art gallery in the Airport Mall in Terminal 1.   

3. The Prince store at MSP


The late musician Prince is a beloved Minnesota-born icon.

In addition to a giant 16-foot-by 24-foot mural of Prince by artist Rock Martinez, MSP airport also has a Prince store in Terminal 1 where fans can buy all sorts of Prince-branded merchandise.

4. Minnesota’s Tallest Escalator is at MSP

MSP’s newest parking ramp partially opened in early August with a new attraction: Minnesota’s tallest escalator.

The escalator is 55 feet tall, travels about 100 feet per minute and is capable of transporting 9,000 people per hour.

The ride – up or down – takes 1 minute and 15 seconds.

All rental car services, off-airport parking shuttles and all bus services are in the new Silver Ramp.   


5. Animal ambassadors at MSP

98 therapy dogs – and a therapy cat named Stitches – serve as animal ambassadors at MSP airport, helping reduce travelers’ stress.

Bonus: The hotel at MSP Airport

MSP Airport has a hotel located between the inbound and outbound roadways at Terminal 1 with direct access to Concourse C via a skyway.

The 291-room, 12-story Intercontinental MSP Airport has two restaurants, a cocktail bar, a TSA checkpoint (currently closed due to COVID), a fitness center, a thermal pool, and a collection of work by local artists.

One thing MSP Airport does not have is an aircraft viewing area with an outdoor pool.

That was a great April Fools Day joke from 2018 that we’re still wishing might come true.

Did we miss one of the amenities you love at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP)?

If so, please leave a note in the comments section below.

And be sure to take a look at the other airports in our “5 Things We Love About...” series.

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.

Two airport restrooms in the running for America’s Best Restroom

A clean public restroom? We vote yes!

Courtesy Mourad

The lid has been lifted on the finalists for this year’s America’s Best Restroom contest and this year restrooms in two airports on opposite sides of the country are on the list.

LaGuardia Airport’s loos in the running

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 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.

Courtesy LaGuardia Gateway Partners

“Terminal B’s new restrooms combine cleanliness, innovative aesthetics and advanced technology together to create a top-class guest experience that travelers deserve,” said Stewart Steeves, CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners. 

On a roll at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport

Courtesy Port of Seattle

Lovely new restrooms are part of the major renovation project for the North Satellite at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

These new loos feature a flushing system that harvests 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 appreciate that people think we have some of the best seats in the house. said Sea-Tac spokesman Perry Cooper, “That’s how we roll.”

The eight other restrooms on the list of finalists this year include loos at the Nashville Zoo, at the Natick Mall in Massachusetts, at the Jupiter NEXT hotel in Portland and at restaurants, a brewpub and the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City.

Courtesy New Museum

You can cast a vote for the coolest commode through September 13. 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.

Atlanta Int’l Airport testing restroom stop/go lights

Los Angeles Internationl Airport has some ‘smart’ restrooms, now Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL) has some too.

As part of its $6 billion modernization program, ATL is testing technology to improve the restroom ‘experience’.

Two pairs of restrooms (at Delta’s Gates B18 & B23), now feature  Tooshlights – a system that works like modern parking lots to light red or green lights (in use/empty) over stalls – and Infax, a system that tracks restroom usage so janitorial staff knows when the space needs to be cleaned.

Anyone who has ever waited on line in an airport restroom waiting for an empty stall – and anyone who has been in a stall and had someone rattle the door to see if it’s open – will appreaciate the red light/green light system, especially when rushing between flights.