For the 13th consecutive year, Cintas Corporation is back with its popular America’s Best Restroom Contest. A team of survey editors once again scanned the country for the most creative and clean public restrooms and produced a crop of nominees sure to please.
Will the 2014 winner be a restroom covered in plant life? What about one housed inside a building that looks like a toilet? Or maybe a Pennsylvania restroom where the water from the sink begins inside a waterfall?
We will soon find out as this year’s top ten public potties compete for the coveted title of Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom. In addition, the top three vote getters will receive a complimentary Deep Clean of their restroom (valued up to $500), while the 2014 winner also receives a $2,500 credit to spend on Cintas services like restroom cleaning and supplies, wet mops or Deep Clean for their restroom floors.
Cast your votes at www.bestrestroom.com through October 31.
The public restrooms at Longwood Gardens, the most visited public garden in America, deserve a double-take as you walk by. That’s because the 17 restrooms themselves are part of the largest indoor “Green Wall” in North America! The staff at Longwood worked with artist Kim Wilkie on an unprecedented feat of bathroom architecture. Take a look at the photos, and you’ll understand. Aside from the restrooms’ lush greenery, they also feature domed, naturally lit lavatory cabinets hidden within the “Green Wall.” In addition, each restroom contains etched translucent glass at the top of the dome to provide natural light, reduce electricity and minimize the need for light fixtures. Longwood Gardens traces its roots to the famed du Pont family and has become preeminent for its grand collection of plant life. Now, its restrooms also share in the spotlight. “The restrooms at Longwood have become a ‘must-see’ for our one million annual visitors, and we even have docents nearby to share the story of their creation,” says Patricia Evans, communications manager at Longwood Gardens. “To be named America’s Best Restroom would be a testament to our creativity and environmental stewardship.”
American Girl Place
Bright, whimsical colors. Mirrors and sinks designed for children’s height. Even signature doll holders in each bathroom stall. A trip to the restroom at American Girl Place in Chicago is as memorable as a walk through the store! Since 1986, American Girl’s mission is to celebrate girls and provide inspiring products for each stage of their development – most notably the company’s iconic line of dolls. A leader in experiential retail, American Girl and its location along Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue are all about fun. From shopping, dining, going to the doll hair salon – and yes, even down to the added touches like having a holder in the restroom for her special doll – American Girl wants the overall experience at the store to be a day a girl will cherish forever. “Moms and girls alike are delighted with our restrooms,” says Stephanie Spanos, public relations manager for American Girl. “Girls are thrilled that their special doll companions are safely secure and off the floor while they use the facilities.” At American Girl Place, even smallest features make the biggest difference. “We’re excited to be part of the America’s Best Restroom Contest and make people aware of the lengths that we go to ensure our customer’s experience is one they’ll never forget!”
Costa Mesa, Calif.
Modern style and cutting-edge design abound inside the Plums Café restroom in Costa Mesa. Owner Kim Jorgenson, a native of Oregon, worked with Steve Brabson of Franklin Studios Architecture to create a space inspired by life along the Pacific coast. The grey terrazzo floors represent wet sand and the curved marble mosaic walls are a nod to the rumbling waves. Many of the cafe's signature dishes also feature ingredients indigenous to the Pacific Northwest. “All the time people say ‘Wow! Who did your bathrooms?’ and also ‘Where can we buy the hooks?’” says Jorgenson. The “hooks” refer to the metal sculptures in the form of people that double as a place for a coat or purse. “An enormous amount of time and talent went into creating a unique restroom experience for our guests,” says Jorgenson. “We integrated risk-taking ideas, and it would be wonderful to be acknowledged for our hard work and innovation.”
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
You might want to wear sunglasses before you step into the Mai Kai restrooms. That’s because everywhere you look there’s bright, shiny gold! From the floor to the ceiling, columns to the mirrors, the restroom has a golden aura that whisks you away with the feel of a royal washroom. Opened in 1956, the Mai Kai itself is a tiki-themed restaurant in Fort Lauderdale and one of the few "Grand Polynesian Palaces of Tiki" still in operation today. Come for dinner, and you’ll see the exciting Islander Revue performed by native Polynesian dancers in colorful hand sewn costumes. The Mai Kai is truly a feast for the eyes. “People often say ‘This is the most beautiful restroom I have ever seen’ and that they visit Mai Kai because of our memorable washing areas,” says Pia Dahlquist, Mai Kai’s director of sales and marketing. On top of it all, attendants work nightly in both the ladies and the men’s rooms. Luxury at its finest!
To fully appreciate Bowl Plaza in Lucas, you need to start from about 50 yards away. That’s because the entire structure is shaped like a toilet! Opened in 2012, the restroom facility – built to provide handicapped-accessible restrooms – is mosaic art at its best. The folks in Lucas take their mosaic art seriously; it’s a tradition that dates back to the 1940s. Outside and inside Bowl Plaza, you’ll see colored bottles, broken pottery, dishes, tiles, toys and mirrors on the walls. Plus, you won’t want to miss a spectacular 14-foot mosaic oval lid and a toilet bowl “drain” depicting swirling water with items people have accidentally dropped into the toilet bowl. So far, over 10,000 people have visited Bowl Plaza from all 50 states and 50 countries. “Winning the title of America’s Best Restroom would mean so much for the people of Lucas,” says Wendell Cowan, who helped construct Bowl Plaza. “This project was truly a community effort, conceived, built and completed by everyone in Lucas in some way. We are incredibly proud of our creation.”
In the heart of Austin, Texas sits a restroom in perfect harmony with nature. The Trail Restroom is one part bathroom and one part functional outdoor art. Designed by local firm Miró Rivera Architects, the Trail Restroom is a popular stop for outdoor enthusiasts who frequent the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake. More than 1.5 million people visit the 10-mile Butler Trail every year, which was envisioned by notable names like Lady Bird Johnson, wife of President Lyndon B. Johnson. The public Trail Restroom uses sustainable materials and is low maintenance, maximizing airflow and blending with the surrounding natural areas. It also allows the sun to peek through via open spaces in the ceiling. The restroom was designed as part of a public-private partnership with the City of Austin and The Trail Foundation, which works to protect and enhance the popular hike-and-bike trail. “As part of America’s Best Restroom Contest, we would love to inspire others to create artfully designed public restrooms in well-loved outdoor spaces in their cities,” says Beth Carroll, project and creative director at The Trail Foundation. “We hope to showcase that an outdoor, public restroom can complement the surrounding environment and blend with nature.”
The Fabulous Fox Theater
Stately and elegant define the restrooms inside The Fabulous Fox Theater in St. Louis. Not only are the restrooms ornate but the lounges outside of them dazzle patrons too. The lounges feature decorative carpets and pastel pink walls while the restrooms have black-and-white checkered floors and sleek black countertops. The Fabulous Fox Theatre is the work of renowned architect C. Howard Crane and first opened in 1929 as a movie palace. Today, it’s one of the most exquisite venues in the country to enjoy live touring Broadway shows, concerts and comedians. “Guests love the beauty and elegance of our restrooms. Not many people expect a restroom to be so fabulous!” says Megan Ketcherside, publicity coordinator at The Fabulous Fox. “We are excited to share the elaborate design of our restrooms with people who may never have the opportunity to visit our theatre.”
Scott Kramer is especially proud of the ladies room at Tiki Lounge in Pittsburgh. That’s because he and a team of local artists spent over 200 hours designing and constructing it! Kramer, who co-owns the restaurant with Steve Zumoff, traveled to Bali (Indonesia) to hand-pick the supplies. Today, visitors can see the proof of his hard work: myriad stones and shells glued all over the walls and countertops. Plus, you won’t want to miss the waterfall. That’s right, Kramer constructed an actual waterfall that feeds the shell basins down below when activated by sensors. In the waterfall, all the florals are silk, and the water flows from the top left all the way into the basin. What a way to wash your hands! “Our ladies room absolutely generates buzz,” says Kramer. “People do come in just to see the restrooms. Sometimes they actually buy a drink too.” Kramer is excited to be part of Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom Contest and let the nation see his handiwork up close. “All publicity is good publicity,” he says. And with a sink that begins in a waterfall, publicity isn’t far behind!
Los Angeles, Calif.
For years, people have considered The Grove one of the nation’s top retail, dining and entertainment destinations. Now, add “best restroom” to the list as well! The Grove is a Southern California landmark. Vanity Fair named The Grove the “Main Street of Dreams” and Trip Advisor called it the “#1 Shopping Destination in Los Angeles.” In 2012, The Grove tapped world-renowned architect David Rockwell of The Rockwell Group to design and remodel the shopping center’s restrooms. The men and women’s restrooms and family room now provide guests with first-class amenities like child-friendly toilets and washbasin, microwave, bottle warmers, baby changing station, two nursing rooms with rocking chair, children’s playroom with a chalkboard and a plasma screen TV. Additionally, The Grove restrooms house six original drawings by famous artists Picasso and Miro. “The Grove's restroom is a work of art. With floor to ceiling marble, we’re excited that this often overlooked everyday amenity is receiving such honorable recognition,” says Liz Jaeger, vice president of public relations for Caruso Affiliated, which manages The Grove. “It would excite our staff and guests to receive the coveted America’s Best Restroom award!”
When customers enter the restrooms at El Centro, they’re greeted by two surprises. One, the sinks are metal basins and look like a throwback to the Prohibition Era. And when people approach the sinks to wash their hands, they may very well see the opposite sex right across the way! The unisex washing station, created by Brie Husted Architecture, turns the sink area into a social hub. “Most people are surprised when they spot the other sex washing their hands where a mirror should be!” says Leo Schmid, marketing and PR manager for Richard Sandoval Restaurants, which owns El Centro. The restroom only adds to the flair of El Centro, a popular Mexican restaurant in Washington DC’s trendy Georgetown area. The eatery is home to over 200 tequilas and mezcals alongside craft Mexican-inspired drinks. One time through the El Centro restroom, and you’ll never forget about those classic metal tubs.