airport restrooms

Museum Monday: Best Museum Bathrooms

We recently celebrated the fact that two airports – Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) have restrooms in the running for this year’s America’s Best Restroom contest.

Restrooms at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) won that contest in 2016.

And over the years, restrooms in gardens, science centers, and museums have ascended to the throne in that contest. For example, the loos at Chicago’s Field Museum won the contest in 2011. And restrooms at many other museums have made the list of finalists over the years.

Perhaps inspired by the annual contest for America’s Best Restroom, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) recently did its own informal poll of favorite restrooms in museums around the country.

Here’s a sampling:

Smith College Museum of Art

Visitors to the Smith College Museum of Art in Northhampton, MA, will find washrooms that are presented as functional art.

This is Ellen Driscoll’s creation, Catching the Drift. (Photographs by Jim Gipe).

And this washroom is the creation of Sandy Skoglund and is titled Liquid Origins, Fluid Dreams.

Mariners’ Museum and Park

Eight restrooms in the Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, VA feature an exhibition titled A Head of its Time, all about “the history of going at sea,”

Text panels in the museum’s loo explore topics such as why the facilities – or lack thereof – were called “the head”; the wisdom of keeping tabs on wind direction and how sailors improvised before toilet paper.

Longwood Gardens

The public restrooms at Longwood Gardens, in Kennet Square, PA, won America’s Best Restroom contest in 2014.

The 17 restrooms are part of the largest indoor “Green Wall” in North America and feature domed, naturally lit lavatory cabinets.

Read about other cool museum restrooms here.

2 airports are finalists for America’s Best Restroom

The list of the top 10 finalists for the 2022 America’s Best Restroom contest is out.

And this year restrooms at two airports are in the running to be crowned as the best throne in the country.

Newark Liberty Int’l Airport (EWR)

The Terminal B all-gender restroom at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) is one of the airport restrooms nominated as an excellent example of how businesses develop and maintain innovative restroom facilities.

EWR’s new loo is in a 1970’s-era terminal departure lounge. The loo’s creative, gender-neutral design offers “potty parity” and means that more users can be accommodated than with a traditional restroom design.

The restroom includes areas for traveling companions to wait and for passengers to reorganize their belongings. Local imagery on the glass and tile establishes a sense of place. And sound and scent help create a calming environment.

Tampa International Airport (TPA)

The nominated restrooms at Tampa International Airport (TPA) are on Airside C.

These loos welcome travelers to a uniquely Florida experience with large graphics. A natural, deep blue stone with undulating veining is intended to be reminiscent of waves crashing along the shore.

“Once inside, large format tiles skin the floors and seamlessly fold up the walls, bolstering the well-lit environment and furthering a ‘freshly cleaned’ aesthetic,” the restroom nomination explains. “A wood-look wall tile adds warmth and softness for a balanced, resort-like feel.”

The vanities in these restrooms also offer TPA’s signature “cockpit” concept, which gives each guest their own sensor-activating sink and soap, personal paper towel dispensers, and a nearby trash receptacle.

The other nominated public bathrooms on this Best Restroom list include the self-cleaning restrooms at North Hollywood Recreation Center; prohibition-themed restrooms in Stone Mountain, GA; and a Japanese pub in Orlando, FL modeled after the green restroom seen in “The Aviator” film.

Here’s the image from the movie:

Here’s a snap from Orlando’s Tori Tori pub.

The public is invited to vote for their favorite finalist through August 31 here.

Which is your favorite?

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.

JFK loo a finalist in America’s Best Restroom contest

The finalists for the 2021 America’s Best Restroom contest. are out and we’re pleased to see a restroom in an airport on the list. That doesn’t happen very often.

Which airport makes the list this year?

JFK Airport’s Terminal 4, operated by JFKIAT, gets the nod.

The lavs on the list are located on the east side of the Customs Arrival Hall and are designed by Woods Bagot.

In the nomination write-up, the lavs are described as being easy to find, easy to clean, and very spacious at 900 square feet.

Framing the restroom entrance is a teal back-painted glass with graphics of iconic New York City landmarks. Mirroring the hue of the entrance, a teal penny tile feature wall draws users into the space. Inside, bright white terrazzo flooring, marbleized walls, and delicate wall sconces combine for a look and feel of understated elegance. Calcutta porcelain tile lines the women’s vanity area, and a thoughtful raised shelf behind the sink provides the perfect spot to freshen up after a long flight. Full height wood laminate partitions provide privacy and a touch of warmth to an otherwise clean, bright space.

Another restroom on the list of finalists is a portable toilet in Santa Rosa, CA inspired by tiny home cottages. This roadside rest stop contains a roomy restroom with vessel sinks, touchless faucets, air conditioning, heat, ambient music, adjustable color & dimmable lighting, countertop decor, and a hospitality tray with hand towels & other toiletries.

Also on the list is a word-filled restroom at Planet Word, a museum in Washington, D.C. devoted to words, language, and reading,

The contest celebrates innovative and hygienic public restrooms across the country and invites the public to vote for their favorite flusher. See the full list of 10 finalists and cast a vote before August 20. .

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.