For most of us, the thought of having to use a public restroom is off-putting, owing to often horrific personal experiences.
But that doesn't have to be the case.
The fourteenth annual America’s Best Restroom Contest, sponsored by the Ohio-based Cintas Corporation (which manufactures restroom supplies, among many other things), has announced ten finalists for 2015 — and a public facility in the Town of Minturn made the final cut.
As you'll see in the photos below, the competition will be fierce. Rather than places to avoid, these restrooms are so spectacular that we imagine folks actually seek them out, tourist-attraction-style.
Look below to see the top ten, featuring Cintas photos and text. Voting is open until October 31. To select your favorite and check out additional pics and info, click here.
Cibo Wine Bar
Cibo Wine Bar is billed as “big, bold and beautiful” – and the Italian eatery lives up to the hype! Located in Miami’s famed South Beach district, Cibo is a blend of old world rustic and modern industrial chic. Patrons can even watch chefs prepare meals at a 60 ft. open kitchen counter. The restrooms, the creation of Liberty Entertainment Group’s Vice President and Creative Director Nadia Di Donato, are stunning works of art. Guests are often intrigued by the faucets, which are mounted to the ceiling and activated by motion sensor. The restrooms also feature pieces from renowned artist Randy Cooper. “Liberty Entertainment Group venues are renowned for their restroom designs, and we are honored to be recognized,” said Di Donato. “This nomination pays tribute to the artists and craftsmen who dedicated themselves to this project.”
Charleston, South Carolina
A restroom inside a whiskey barrel? Believe it! At Charleston Distilling in South Carolina, which makes small batch handcrafted spirits, two restrooms are designed as giant wooden barrels. And the creative place “to go” has become a popular attraction for patrons. “The usual response is that people say the restroom is very cool,” said Stephen Heilman of Charleston Distillery. “The restroom is part of a lot of Instagram photos!” The custom woodworking of the “barrel” restrooms fit the atmosphere and décor of the distillery and its tasting room. So belly up to the bar and order a round – it’s a trip you won’t forget!
The Fitton Center for Creative Arts
Enter the restrooms at The Fitton Center for Creative Arts and step into nature – one tile at a time. The men’s and women’s restrooms were created by Cincinnati artist Jan Brown Checco as an homage to our relationship with the earth and the importance of conservation. In addition, students in the Fitton Center’s pottery classes and community members joined forces to create several of the tiles. In the women’s restroom take particular note of “Mother Nature” and the rainbows, flowers, seashells, fossils, colorful glass and clay tiles that comprise her face. In the men’s restroom the Greenman gives a nod to Hamilton’s Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer. The restrooms have become a big hit at the art center, and every tour begins with a look at the beautiful tiles. “The title of Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom would be a wonderful honor for the Fitton Center,” said Cindy Dingeldein, ASID, interior designer on the project. “What we designed is much more than restrooms. The rooms are hand-made, unique works of art.”
Great American Ball Park
This baseball season, the Cincinnati Reds hit a home run...with moms everywhere! That’s because the Reds, in partnership with Pampers and Fischer Homes, debuted the first-of-its-kind nursing suite at Great American Ball Park. The Reds talked with local moms to identify specific needs for the restroom. You’ll find five comfortable gliders, changing stations, kitchenette with a sink, ice and refrigeration, lockers for storing items and flat screen TVs so mom doesn’t miss any of the game. Already this season over 3,000 moms and families have used the Pampers Nursing Suite and its restroom facility! “The Reds, Pampers and Fischer Homes are very proud that we have set the gold standard for a nursing area in a public space,” said Michael Anderson, public relations manager for the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. “As sports teams strive to add additional ‘family friendly’ features for fans, we have proven that this quiet place for moms to feed and care for their babies is one of the most popular spaces at Great American Ball Park.”
The Music Hall
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
Take a long look at the restrooms at The Music Hall. Are you thinking “Harry Potter” or “Alice in Wonderland”? You’re not alone! The team at The Music Hall, a performing arts venue in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire which dates back to the 1870s, says the restrooms are like a trip into a childhood fairytale. That’s because, during a recent renovation in 2008, designers drew on the mysticism of Gaudi and the classic touches of the Tiffany style to create a fantasy forest of cast bronze trees, branches and vines, gilded Corinthian columns, elegant velvet settees and creative tile patterns. Now people stop by every day to tour not just the theater but the restrooms too! “We are excited to be part of Cintas' America's Best Restroom because we’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears to create a magical experience for our patrons,” said Michael Tucker, director of operations at The Music Hall. “It would be great to win this award to showcase all of the hard work we’ve put into our massive renovation project.”
Ocean Beach, California
At OB Warehouse World Food and Bar in Ocean Beach near San Diego, old meets new as vintage artifacts blend seamlessly with modern, industrial design. It’s the vision of designer Philippe Beltran who created the entire restaurant (restrooms included) to trigger “a reaction that will make people remember their experience.” The OB Warehouse restrooms are a sight to behold with retro, hand-held vintage mirrors, oil cans and tools like vintage plumber pipe, a wrench and metal letter stamps which read OB Warehouse over the men’s urinal. Many of the items are encased in glass behind large concrete sinks. All the building materials are recycled from other buildings either in San Diego or locales around the world. “From the day we opened our doors last year, guests have taken pictures of our restrooms and asked to see the opposite sex restroom, so we give them tours,” said General Manager Yami Bryan. “We are excited to be included in this great contest.”
Perry Lakes Park
On a stroll through the woods, the LAST thing you’d expect is a fifty-foot tall restroom in the clearing. But at Perry Lakes Park near Marion, Alabama, that’s exactly what you’ll find! The fifty-foot structure (known as “Tall toilet”) is part of a three-restroom complex built in 2003 by architecture students at Auburn University Rural Studio. In addition to “Tall toilet,” the students constructed “Long toilet” with long walls that frame a tree and “Mount toilet,” which sits atop the septic system for the restroom complex. All three use durable and local materials – a mix of cypress and locally-milled cedar along with anodized aluminum, stainless steel and concrete. “Winning the title of Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom would be an incredible honor for the Perry County community,” said Andrew Freear, director of Auburn University Rural Studio. “We hope to expose more people to the natural beauty of central West Alabama.”
The Salty Pig
Are you a fan of “The Far Side” comic strip? Then you’re in for a real treat at The Salty Pig in Boston! Owners Jim Cochener and Mike Moxley plastered the restroom walls with “The Far Side” comics. The restaurant, which serves house-made charcuterie, pizza and pasta, has also created a buzz in the bathroom. Guests take “extra” time drying their hands so they can read the comics, and many regulars challenge themselves to read a new comic each time they visit. What would happen if The Salty Pig wins top honors as Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom? “I guess our waiting line would get even longer!” said Ines Lee Santos, general manager of The Salty Pig. “We are very excited to be part of the contest, and we love knowing that across the country there are many like-minded friends putting work into the details, including creative restrooms.”
Ever used a restroom underground? How about 650 FEET underground? At Strataca, the only underground salt-mine attraction in North America, the men’s and women’s restrooms are part of the museum experience. That’s because they’re both carved out of a stratified salt bed formed 275 million years ago! It took quite the engineering and plumbing feat to make the restrooms possible – it’s not easy to construct pipes, toilets, sinks and hand dryers that far underground. But the Strataca team had a vision and made it a reality. Now they often hear guests say “ooh” and “aah” and run to tell their friends about the incredible restroom facilities. “Winning the contest would provide public recognition of our team’s hard work,” said Gayle Ferrell, former director of operations at Strataca. “We have something here that is totally unique in North America – both our underground restrooms and our amazing, passionate staff.”
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Town of Minturn Public Restrooms
Founded in 1904, Minturn is rich in mining history and its new public restrooms reflect the past. The unique digitally fabricated shape of the men’s and women’s restrooms resemble an adit (horizontal passage way) into a Rocky Mountain mine. The concept is the product of several key players: the Town of Minturn, LaN Architecture - Monika Wittig, LGM 3d Studios and Noble Welding. The team came together to produce “functional art” that’s already captured community attention! “Our public restrooms prove how great it is to combine art, architecture and creativity. It changes moods, places and people,” said Janet Hawkinson, director of design and construction for the public restroom project. “It would be the best to win the contest and show the country what can be accomplished when everyone works together to create something truly memorable, as we did in small town Minturn!”