restrooms

Award-winning airport restrooms? Yup.

JAX - women's restroom

Jacksonville Int’l Airport

 

Public restrooms can be a crapshoot when it comes to cleanliness and overall appeal.

But some establishments do loos right, with spotless sinks and stalls, unique design features and a dash of surprise and creative flair.

And when they do “it shows a commitment to quality across the board,” said Danny Rubin, survey editor for Cintas’ annual America’s Best Restroom contest. “If an owner is going to put so much attention into the restroom, it shows you how much they care about the entire building.”

Have a seat and consider some recent contest winners.

The 17 lavatories at Longwood Gardens, near Philadelphia (the 2014 winner), are part of the largest living “Green Wall” in North America. The restrooms at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, the contest’s 2013 winner, have bar service and a view out to the venue’s concert stage. And the 2012 winner, a Buc-ees convenience store in New Braunfels, Texas offers patrons a choice of 83 spotless thrones.

There have been some airports amongst the nominees and the winners as well.

In 2005, Fort Smith Regional Airport in Arkansas was a winner.

Award winning bathroom room Fort Smith Regional Airport

Winning bathroom at Fort Smith Regional Airport

And Tampa International Airport’s restrooms were among the top nominees in 2013.

Tampa Airport

Cintas is now rounding up the list of go-worthy restrooms for the 2015 contest and they expect nominations to trickle in through June.

“It’s remarkable that we’ve had a fresh list of 10 great restrooms on the ballot for each of the past 13 years,” said Rubin, “but we keep finding out about great restrooms in hotels, museums, parks, airports, stores, malls, theaters and other places around the country that we haven’t heard of before.”

What makes a public restroom a contender?

A restroom being nominated should be extremely clean, of course, but it should also be able to pass the “eye test,” said Rubin. “Do people go in, look around and say ‘Wow, that’s spectacular,’ do they talk about it, does it generate buzz?”

Being nominated is an honor all its own, of course, but the public restroom that comes in first place in the contest gets $2500 worth of restroom services; the three venues that get the most votes get their restrooms deep-cleaned.

You’ll find details on how to submit a nomination for Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom contest here.

(A slightly different version of my story about Best Restrooms first appeared on Today.com)

Vancouver International Airport’s lovely loo

YVR 1

Every year the folks at Cintas – a major restroom supply company – hold a contest to choose the best public washrooms in the United States and Canada.

The list of nominees includes not just spots where cleanliness in crappers is king, but where creativity abounds.

For example, last year’s U.S. winner, the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, MN, has a restroom decorated “with ornate, gilded mirrors, sassy text plates, and bricks laid as if by a drunken mason on bender,” and “invites guests into an Alice In Wonderland-like grotto – to relieve themselves and re-live childhood fairy tales.”

Varsity

The list of potties to pick from is out for this year’s contest, and while no airport made the top ten list in the U.S., Tampa International Airport is still overflowing with pride from making the list last year.

tampa

This year, the finalists in Canada include a loo at Vancouver International Airport.

YVR BATHROOM 2

Here’s how the nomination reads:

“Located in the C-Pier, Domestic Terminal of YVR, travelers find a clean, modern place to freshen up during their journeys. The washroom walls are covered in shades of blue, red, and yellow mosaic tiles and wave-shaped blue flooring winds down the curved corridor leading guests to their choice of bathroom stalls. White tile surrounds the hands-free sinks and towel dispensers, creating a cohesive and modern atmosphere that is sure to leave a lasting impression.”

YVR3

Take a look at the list of nominees for “Best Restroom” in both the United States and Canada and be sure to pick your favorite. Because when you gotta go, you gotta – well, you know – and it may as well be a posh pottie.

Thrilling thrones: where is America’s Best Restroom?

It’s been a while since an airport loo was voted America’s Best Restroom, but among this year’s finalists are restrooms in hotels, restaurant and museums you may encounter in your travels.

Raddison Blue Aqua Hotel – Chicago. A 2012 finalist for America’s Best Restroom

The restrooms at The Radisson Blue Aqua Hotel (above) in Chicago are on the list, as are those at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Buc-ee’s in New Braunfels, TX and the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, CA.

Take a look at the finalists and cast your vote.

Vote for America’s Best Restroom

Do you worry about where to ‘go’ when you’re on the go? Then take note of the beautiful and sometimes bizarre public bathrooms that get nominated for America’s Best Restroom.

Whether sightseeing or heading down the road to visit a new town, finding a clean place to “go” when you’re on the go can be a traveler’s most urgent challenge.

That’s why word gets around when a hotel, restaurant, museum, ballpark or other venue goes out of its way to provide bathrooms that are not just sanitary, but distinctive, inviting and somewhat eccentric.

There’s even an annual award for America’s Best Restroom. For this year’s choice, people can cast their vote online through Sept. 19.

The contest is hosted by bathroom supply company Cintas Corp., which gathers restroom recommendations through the year and then invites the public to help flush out the best loo in the land from a list of 10 finalists.

The 2010 winner was The Fountain on Locust, a vintage ice-cream parlor in St. Louis, Mo., where the bathrooms have hand-painted murals, luxury fixtures and designer mirrors.

This year’s nominees include the dragon- and gargoyle-themed restrooms at the Castello Di Amorosa Winery in Calistoga, Calif., and the loos at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va., where bird silhouettes on the mirrors light up when the faucets are turned on.

Restrooms on the ground floor of Chicago’s Field Museum have also been nominated. “They’re large and family friendly, with changing stations and sinks set low enough for kids to easily wash their hands,” said museum spokeswoman Nancy O’Shea. “Our housekeeping staff does a great job of keeping those restrooms clean, and we are just delighted to be in the running.”

Other nominees this year include the restrooms at the Main Street Casino in Las Vegas, where urinals hang on a graffiti-covered slab of the Berlin Wall, and Ninja New York, a restaurant where the décor is 15th-century Japan (complete with ninja-dressed wait staff), but the up-to-date restrooms sport built-in seat warmers, water sprayers, deodorizers and driers for the derriere.

There’s even a posh portable potty on the list. Created for President Obama’s 2009 inauguration-day festivities, Don’s Johns DJ5000LX Presidential Luxury Restroom Trailer has granite counters and shelves, heat and air conditioning, an audio system and, for those waiting their turn, a 37-inch exterior-mounted flat screen TV. It’s available for rent by any organization interested in an outstanding outhouse.

(This story first appeared on msnbc.com’s Overhead Bin)