From the New York restaurant where episodes of Sex and the City were filmed, to the outrageous opulence of the Chippendale Theatre in Las Vegas to the Italian opulence of Dolce & Gabbana’s Gold Restaurant in Milan, luxury public restrooms are elegant, splendid places that offer more than a place to powder your nose. They offer status to the institution that hosts them.
Hollywood has the Oscars, the most coveted prize of all for movie makers and movie stars. Public toilets… have The Cintas. Cinta, the facility services company that would know a thing or two about public bathrooms, has – since 2002 – awarded a prize for the best public toilets in America. Like the Oscars, there are nominees, usually ten or so. You can log onto bestbathrooms.com and nominate a favorite and vote. Some of the hotel, casino and restaurant restrooms in this list of luxury toilets proudly boast Cintas awards, while some have been runners up.
Not surprisingly, Las Vegas takes the cake for over the top luxury in public restrooms. New York City’s are often quirky. Don’s Johns, the Washington D.C. outfit that rents out Porta Potties (“Celebrate with a Porta Potty” their website says), has entered the luxury toilet market with its Luxury Presidential Restroom Trailer. Yes, a trailer. It’s filled with flowers and burning candles and plants. Don’s handled the last Presidential Inauguration, toilet wise, and the Presidential trailer was employed at the event. Stand where Obama stood, for a price.
Still, the words “luxury” and “public toilets” seem to jar when set side by side. But the ten public toilets below are indeed luxurious and sometimes a little bizarre. From plush and opulent casinos to sleek urban restaurants and hotels and theater bathrooms that serve drinks to the ladies in the loo, these are the most luxurious ladies’ toilets.
10. Da Marino Ristorante Italiano: New York City
The restaurant, frequented by New York celebrities such as Ben Stiller and Chris Noth (Mr. Big), was the setting for scenes from Sex and the City, particularly one in which Mr. Big serenades Carrie over a candlelit table. The spa worthy ladies room has been voted Best New York Bathroom and nominated in 2012 for a Cintas Award. You enter through a hand painted door into a sanctuary of stonework, art and sculpture, dotted with twinkling lights and candles that is reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance. A running waterfall and soothing music complete the scene. You can imagine Carrie Bradshaw powdering her nose in there before going out to be seconded by Mr. Big.
9. Flirt Lounge Chippendale Theater: Las Vegas, Nevada
If the lady patrons of the Theater need a break from the exotic male Chippendale dancers, the opulent ladies room and bar offer relief and an “Elvis has left the building” luxury to pamper and soothe even the most hot and heavy fan. Part of the ladies Flirt Lounge (complete with Chippendale-like waiters), the “gossip pit” bathroom has a lush vanity area, complete makeover stations and a lounging area where, presumably, gossip is the order of the day. Gossipers can catch the Chippendale action on wall mounted TV’s as they sip drinks served by the beefy waiters. (www.bestofvegas.com)
8. The Grand America Hotel: Salt Lake City, Utah
The grand entrance into the hotel’s ladies room exudes an Old World charm straight out of Downton Abbey. It’s not that far away from Vegas, but you might as well be on a different planet. The Grand America’s Hotel is like stepping back in time, a AAA 5 Diamond Award family-friendly hotel that offers classic understated elegance. The ladies room has hand painted fixtures, gleaming mirrors, African Negre wood, and Italian tile floors. Cue Maggie Smith to enter stage left. (www.businessinsider.com) .
7. Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel: Chicago, Illinois
If you like mirrors everywhere you look, you will love the Blu Aqua restroom. Resplendent with shimmering floor to ceiling mirror tiled walls, every fixtures reflects onto the walls from every angle, like a Russian doll with reflective images stacked and getting smaller and smaller. It can get a little dizzying. With a post modernist feel, it is a clean, smart, slightly futuristic kind of place and was another Cintas nominee. Knowing how some women feel, mirrors everywhere might not suit everyone though. You can’t get away from yourself in there.
6. Mood Mall: Stockholm, Sweden
In 2012 when the small boutique Mall opened, the party was in one of the chic, modern public toilets. Dominic Crinson, a tile artist who designed the bathrooms, was thrilled to join the champagne sipping crowd. It was a kind of European co-educational equivalent of the Flirt Lounge gossip pit, but in Swedish. The bathrooms are European sleek, sophisticated spaces, with just a touch of whimsy and a showcase for Crinson’s tile designs. The Mall offers an array of pricey retailers, stylish food court and WiFi and, bizarrely, glass meeting rooms on stilts called Treehouses. Have your next business meeting in full view of Stockholm.
5. Varsity Theatre: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Think “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and you’ve got the vibe spot on. The most recent winner of the Cintas award, the Varsity theatre is a converted turn of the century vaudeville venue. The Mad Hatter would feel right at home in the restroom grotto with its ornate gilded mirrors and brick walls and features that are “laid as if by a drunken mason on a bender”. Ladies can lounge and order drinks that are delivered over a bathroom counter that opens onto the back of the bar. Who needs to watch the show? (www.thebestrestrooms.com)
4. Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel: Arlington, Va.
The Arlington Capital View is located in bustling Crystal City, just a hop skip and a jump over the bridge from Washington D.C. You might spot a Senator or a General from the nearby Pentagon dining its Socci Restaurant. And then there is the ladies room. In this posh restroom, the faucets change color, blue when the water is cold and red when it is hot. And the cotton towels are carefully rolled and the flowers fresh. Designed by Forest Parker the place has a sedate, tranquil feel with sunset tones or orange and gold and mirrors with bird silhouettes. It came in number two for the Cintas in 2011.
3. Gold Restaurant: Milan, Italy
Dolce & Gabanna’s Gold Restaurant has an Italian elegance that is the trademark of the brand and is filled with mostly young things dressed in Armani tan or black. The downstairs restroom is D & G overstated. Outrageously gold and glimmering, it has golden bamboo walls and marble countertops. There are plasma TV’s inside each cubicle that run the James Bond movie Goldfinger 24/7. With its Sicilian food and ambience, Gold should perhaps consider screenings of The Godfather.
2. Shoji Tabuchi Theatre: Branson Missouri
Shoji Tabuchi is a 70 year old Japanese Country & Western fiddle player and singer who has his own theatre in Branson. Branson, Missouri attracts tourists not so much because of the splendid Ozark Mountain scenery, but because of the collection of theatres and attractions that line its main drag, Highway 76. Singers Glen Campbell and Andy Williams opened theatres there and the city currently has 50 theatres offering mostly country music shows. The Shoji Tabuchi Theatre and its ladies room have a tricked-out overstated Art Deco feel. Shoji has been known to perform in front of kitschy deer statues in hula skirts. There’s a hand carved mahogany pool table in the men’s room. It’s no surprise that episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies were filmed in Branson.
1. Vanity: Las Vegas, Nevada
Back in the land of Vegas overkill, the Vanity is the nightclub in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. The 14,000 square foot Vanity has a $40,000 chandelier with 20,000 lights, two bars, a sunken dance floor and pearl and cut gem encrusted back lit walls that can make you feel tipsy before you’ve started on the cocktails. Vanity offers cultured entertainment, like Rehab Bikini contests. The ladies lounge has a surreal ambiance, with lots of gold and red and giant staring cartoon eyes and oversized golden lips adorning the walls. The men’s toilet has TV’s over each action station and faux reptile skin wallpaper. The ladies room was nominated for a Cintas.