Investigating New York’s Contestants for “America’s Best Restroom”


Last week, we informed you that the finalists for America’s Best Restroom had been announced — with two New York bathrooms making the cut! But the pictures provided on the site just weren’t enough for us. So this week, we decided to take a break from our usual gritty public restrooms reporting and see if these bourgeois bathrooms really are worth the hype. Don’t worry — we haven’t sold our souls to the Gods of Golden Toilets just yet.

1. The Muse Hotel

Though this luxury hotel’s lobby restrooms are slightly out of our jurisdiction, we’ve always wondered what it would be like to relieve our bladders in an “envious” bathroom. Or, for that matter, a “rebellious,” “macho,” “vain,” “glamorous,” or “passionate” bathroom. Each individually customized water closet in this progressively gender-neutral facility comes with one of those attributes stenciled onto its blurred glass, iron-handled door. And, as you can imagine, each is wrought with originality. Let’s rank:

[Click here to view pics of all the Muse’s bathroom personalities.]

1. The antler light fixtures of the “macho” bathroom made it our personal favorite. Nothing screams masculinity like subtle taxidermy, and the soft brown hues of the mosaic tiles recalled husky lumberjacks on a misty mountain. (Also, this is the wheelchair-accessible offering in the mix, which is…sweet?)
2. The “passion” bathroom was red? So unexpected.
3. You would never guess they would pair green with “envy.” We can’t think any other way to emulate such a complex bathroom attribution.
4. “Vain” was also a superior example in thoughtful restroom design. There’s nothing one loves more than to be able to watch oneself on duty.
5. Making the “rebel” bathroom color scheme a monochromatic black was an offensive choice — goths aren’t counterculture anymore!
6. “Glam.” Despicable. We were expecting a Fergie-Ferg tribute and all we got were gold-plated light fixtures and one measly filigree mirror.

2. Bryant Park

As a member of NYC Government Parks*, the granite counter-topped, full-time attended public restroom of Bryant Park surprisingly is in our jurisdiction, and the amenities didn’t stop there. The bathroom is outfittedwith flower arrangements and a working fan to make for a more pleasant visit.

Unlike other NYC public restrooms, Bryant Park’s did not have toilet paper scattered about the room, and we didn’t have to dance around puddles of unidentified liquid to make it to the loo.

We spoke with the full-time attendant on duty, Judy, who says she has experienced immense gratitude from her patrons: “Around Christmas time, I can get up to $100.”

She probably deserves it — though this bathroom ups the ante for any other NYC restroom, she says still has to deal with people who have trouble aiming. At least the toilets themselves come equipped with self-cleaning plastic seat covers (two-part instructions included! Click to enlarge.)

That’s it for this week’s Toilet Bowl. Though our break from the typical grime of public restrooms was pleasant, we have to admit that when we need to flush, we can survive without hydrangeas or individually themed toilets. We’ll be back to our gritty tricks next week.

*While Bryant Park is a public park and is owned by the City of New York, it is privately managed by Bryant Park Corporation. Bryant Park is financially independent and does not receive a penny in city funding.