Cast your vote for America’s best restroom

Courtesy of the Renaissance Arlington Capital View

The loo at Renaissance Arlington Capital View is worth more than a quick visit, Mirrors feature bird silhouettes that are lit and when a guest turns on the faucet, water flows in a sparkling red stream if it’s hot, and a blue stream if it’s cool, thanks to lighting within the fixtures.

 

By Harriet Baskas, msnbc.com contributor

Whether sightseeing or heading down the road to visit a new town, finding a clean place to “go” when you’re on the go can be a traveler’s most urgent challenge.

That’s why word gets around when a hotel, restaurant, museum, ballpark or other venue goes out of its way to provide bathrooms that are not just sanitary, but distinctive, inviting and somewhat eccentric.

There’s even an annual award for America’s Best Restroom. For this year’s choice, people can cast their vote online through Sept. 19.

The contest is hosted by bathroom supply company Cintas Corp., which gathers restroom recommendations through the year and then invites the public to help flush out the best loo in the land from a list of 10 finalists.

The 2010 winner was The Fountain on Locust, a vintage ice-cream parlor in St. Louis, Mo., where the bathrooms have hand-painted murals, luxury fixtures and designer mirrors.

This year’s nominees include the dragon- and gargoyle-themed restrooms at the Castello Di Amorosa Winery in Calistoga, Calif., and the loos at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel in Arlington, Va., where bird silhouettes on the mirrors light up when the faucets are turned on.

Restrooms on the ground floor of Chicago’s Field Museum have also been nominated. “They’re large and family friendly, with changing stations and sinks set low enough for kids to easily wash their hands,” said museum spokeswoman Nancy O’Shea. “Our housekeeping staff does a great job of keeping those restrooms clean, and we are just delighted to be in the running.”

Other nominees this year include the restrooms at the Main Street Casino in Las Vegas, where urinals hang on a graffiti-covered slab of the Berlin Wall, and Ninja New York, a restaurant where the décor is 15th-century Japan (complete with ninja-dressed wait staff), but the up-to-date restrooms sport built-in seat warmers, water sprayers, deodorizers and driers for the derriere.

There’s even a posh portable potty on the list. Created for President Obama’s 2009 inauguration-day festivities, Don’s Johns DJ5000LX Presidential Luxury Restroom Trailer has granite counters and shelves, heat and air conditioning, an audio system and, for those waiting their turn, a 37-inch exterior-mounted flat screen TV. It’s available for rent by any organization interested in an outstanding outhouse.


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