When you think of New York, even the sanitized Bloomberg version, you don’t necessarily think “fantastic toilet facilities.” Where Paris has Sanisettes, we have Starbucks. So get ready for a swell of hometown pride: In the past two years, two of the top ten nominees in the prestigious “America’s Best Restroom” contest have hailed from right here in the city.
Okay, the contest isn’t really so prestigious. It’s held by a bathroom-supply company called Cintas Corporation, whose existence you are now aware of, which was clearly the whole point. Never mind. We are home to four of the best among all of America’s 250 million toilets! The honorees can be found at Brooklyn’s Habana Outpost, the Muse Hotel, Ninja New York restaurant, and Bryant Park.
In the name of investigative journalism, we checked them out in person. The voters clearly chose Habana Outpost for its ecofriendly ways and offbeat ambience. It occupies its own backyard shack (just like in old Cuba), features dozens of live plants, and collects rainwater for its tank. For these same reasons, alas, the bathroom (and restaurant) is only open in the summer. Muse, meanwhile, must have been picked because of its insistent “sexy” vibe. Its individual cabins bear words like PASSION, VAIN, GLAM, and REBEL (the handicapped stall is MACHO). The restrooms at Ninja New York are the hardest to infiltrate; the sunken dining floor is accessible via an elevator ride, which ends with a ninja jumping out of the shadows and yelling “Yaaaargh!” The reason it got onto the list must be its investment in Toto Washlet, the famous toilet-bidet combo (here the Cintas voters, it must be said, are a bit behind the times: At least a half-dozen other Japanese restaurants in New York have Washlets, although none includes screaming ninjas).
Our personal favorite among the four is Bryant Park. Its particulars—clean floor, nice tile-work, an attendant, a flower arrangement—don’t sound impressive until you realize we’re talking about a public restroom. If today’s New York can claim something like this, perhaps we are one of the world’s top places to take a leak.