It’s in the running to be crowned the beauty queen of bathrooms — but its unlikely location might just cause a stink.
A single NYC destination landed in the Top 10 finalists of the America’s Best Restroom contest, a national public-toilet prize presented annually by Cintas. Shockingly, outranking a royal flush of swank boutique hotels and fine dining establishments are the plush potties at JFK Airport’s Terminal 4 in Queens.
Although one might expect airport cans to be dingy, drab, dank or worse, these “easy to find, easy to clean” loos leave plenty of room to breathe (not that you’d want to). At a “spacious” 900 square feet, they’re even bigger than some West Village studio apartments.
“Providing and improving world-class amenities across our airports and transportation facilities is critical to customer experience — from free and fast Wi-Fi to family-friendly accommodations to clean and spacious restrooms designed for the modern traveler,” a Port Authority of New York and New Jersey spokesperson told The Post after learning of their finalist status.
JFK’s reputation-defying heads are the handiwork of CDS Mestel Construction, which took to Instagram to invite the public to “potty like a rock star” on their newly acclaimed thrones.
Framing the lavish lavatory’s entrance are images of New York City infrastructure back-painted onto glass. A teal penny-tile wall also pulls users inside, where travelers can be dazzled by white terrazzo flooring and marbleized walls featuring delicate sconces for an unexpected elegant touch. In addition to full-height wood-laminate partitions, Calacatta porcelain tile lines the women’s vanity area, providing “a touch of warmth” to a “clean, bright space,” as lovingly described by Cintas, a restroom services company.
Still, not everyone is impressed. Commenters on a viral Facebook thread from the Points Guy, a popular travel blog with nearly 2 million followers, railed on the dubious honor.
“Who cares if [the bathroom is] #1 if your entire airport is literally the armpit of airports,” one disgruntled party pooper raged. “And that’s me saying it in a nice way!”
Another summed up the honor more concisely: “That’s cause the whole place is a toilet.”
Meanwhile, Cintas reps said that they selected JFK’s facilities due to recent renovations “in line with the Port Authority’s goal to make JFK a world-class airport.”
“Enhancing our restrooms — which all customers need at one point or another — has been a big part of these efforts, and we’re pleased to make real progress toward that goal,” the Port Authority spokesperson added.
But back to business: The 20th-annual contest celebrates the most innovative and hygienic — and, in some cases, unexpectedly over-the-top — public restrooms across the country.
This year’s 10 finalists were selected based on cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality and unique design elements. The winner will be honored with a place in revered America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame. It will also receive a Cintas UltraClean restroom cleaning service and $2,500 in facility services or restroom cleaning from Cintas.
“The public is expecting a higher hygiene standard in public restrooms, and we’re proud to spotlight these unique restrooms that are well-maintained without sacrificing aesthetic quality,” said Sean Mulcahey, Cintas marketing manager, in a statement.
Contrasting with the JFK facilities, some of the other top restrooms are in upscale neighborhoods or fancy restaurants.
Notable mentions include Fancy Flush in Santa Rosa, Calif., a “glamorous” portable toilet “inspired by tiny home cottages with a French Country flair,” and Planet Word in Washington, DC, a language and reading museum filled with words, witty illustrations and euphemisms. Others add a special splash to a restaurant’s already-lively decor. For example, Twin Cities Pizza in Cincinnati features a restroom tricked out to resemble a New York subway station, complete with a platform, subway car, graffiti and station stops broadcasting from a speaker.
Also worth noting is the Pump House in Kannapolis, NC, which is surrounded by water fountains, lit by a rainbow of colors, swings, sculptures and murals, a putting green, entertainment stages and “fun, inspirational quotes from children’s books.”
Last year, the top-toilet trophy went to Bancroft Park in Colorado Springs for its self-cleaning restrooms with green, red and yellow lights that indicate availability.
Perhaps New York’s hometown restroom can fly home with the grand prize this year. The public can vote for their favorite until Aug. 20.