America’s Best Restrooms of 2015
From venturing down a salt mine to answering nature's call inside a whiskey barrel, voters had a tough time choosing between the innovative candidates for the 14th annual Cintas' America's Best Restroom contest this year.
In order to get a lineup of competitors, the public submitted nominees via the contest website. The Cintas team also then scoured blogs and travel review websites around the country for promising powder rooms. Owners of the winning bathroom got just what they needed to keep that room sparkling—a $2,500 credit to spend on Cintas' cleaning supplies. Second and third place winners got a bathroom deep-clean valued at $250.
While the contest is fun, it's not frivolous. Cintas recognizes restroom heroes—the businesses that raise the public's expectations for public facilities. As John Engel, Cintas' senior marketing manager put it, "The contest also promotes the importance of hygiene and salutes businesses which strive for restroom excellence in both function and design."
Here they are, America's best restrooms of 2015.
First Place: Town of Minturn Public Restrooms, Minturn, Colorado
Visit this Colorado restroom and you might even learn a new word, "adit," which means a horizontal passage way into a mine. That's what this artistic structure was designed to resemble. Minturn, a Rocky Mountain silver mining town with a population of 1,029, partnered with Monika Wittig of LaN Architecture, LGM 3D Studios, and Noble Welding to create this winning washroom, which promotes the area's rich history. Local leaders hope the acclaim from winning this contest will make road trippers driving through Colorado stop for the bathroom and stay for some sightseeing.
Second Place: The Music Hall, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
These elaborate fairy-tale restrooms perfectly complement the 1876 Music Hall, which the Boston Globe called "the beating cultural heart of New Hampshire's seacoast." Restroom users wander into a grove of cast bronze trees, Corinthian columns, and Gaudi-influenced melting archways. Relax on a velvet settee while you absorb the magic.
Third Place: Charleston Distilling, Charleston, South Carolina
The Other Contenders: Cibo Wine Bar, Miami, Florida
Art and high tech merge in the restroom of this Italian restaurant in Miami. Wire mesh nudes by sculptor Randy Cooper adorn the room, and motion-activated faucets resembling droplights are mounted from the ceiling. Best of all, the sinks overlook the bar, so you don't miss one extra second of South Beach action.
The Other Contenders: The Fitton Center for Creative Arts, Hamilton, Ohio
As befits a community center, the Fitton Center for Creative Arts even involved the community in its bathroom design. Led by Cincinnati artist Jan Brown Checco, art students of all ages worked on the mosaics in this conservation-themed washroom. The women's restroom features Mother Nature made from flowers, fossils, seashells, and rainbows of multi-colored glass.
The Other Contenders: OB Warehouse World Food and Bar, San Diego, California
Designer Philippe Beltran recycled materials from old San Diego buildings and incorporated vintage touches like oil cans, plumber pipe, and handheld mirrors into this contender. The restroom has proved so popular that diners in this beachy neighborhood restaurant frequently request tours of the opposite-sex restroom.
The Other Contenders: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati has realized that many women are sports fans. So this bright, inviting restroom takes family-friendly to new heights. Nursing moms can relax on gliders in the new Pampers Nursing Suite while catching every second of the game on flat screen TVs. A kitchenette equipped with a sink, refrigerator, and ice make life easier for mothers.
The Other Contenders: Perry Lakes Park, Marion, Alabama
The "Tall Toilet" at Perry Lakes Park measures 50 feet high and combines environmental art with practicality. Designed by architecture students at Auburn University Rural Studio, its materials include locally milled cedar, cypress, stainless steel, anodized aluminum, and concrete. A skylight provides users with an arboreal view. Visitors can also experience the park's "Long Toilet," whose long walls frame a tree, and "Mount Toilet," which crowns the restroom complex's septic system.
The Other Contenders: The Salty Pig, Boston, Massachusetts
"The Far Side" fans Jim Cochener and Mike Moxley, owners of this Boston restaurant, plastered the washroom walls with their favorite cartoons—lots and lots of them. No matter how long guests stay in there, they're entertained. Supposedly some customers try to read a new comic every time they visit the Salty Pig.
The Other Contenders: Strataca, Hutchinson, Kansas
Visitors to North America's only underground salt mine attraction can also use the continent's only underground restroom carved out of a 275-year-old stratified salt bed. Engineering hand dryers and pipes in the bowels of the earth was no easy feat. How can a geology fan resist a visit?