When you gotta go, you can't be too picky. A clean and functioning toilet will usually do just fine. However, thanks to money and imagination, some restrooms end up standing head and shoulders above the others.
The Bathroom Diaries looks at public restrooms around the world. In 2006 they handed out Golden Plunger Awards. The top winner was Hundertwasser's Kawakawa Toilets at Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Artist Frederick Hundertwasser incorporated stained glass, mosaic tile, cobblestone floors, copper fixtures, sculptures, and even a living tree into his design.
The Reader's Choice Golden Plunger Award went to the restrooms of the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre in Branson, Missouri.
The women's room has a fountain, wainscoting, stained glass appointments and an Empire tin ceiling. Live orchids lay nestled at every granite and onyx pedestal sink. The fixtures are carved from black Italian marble and gold. Voluminous chandeliers soar overhead. The air is fragrant with 80,000 fresh violets (used per month).
The men's room is just as luxurious, if not as frilly.
Continue reading for more award-winning (and just plain winning) restrooms and toilets.
The America's Best Restroom Awards are decided by your votes every year. You can nominate your favorite public restroom. Last year's top winner was Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield Ohio.
Talk about bathroom humor -- the entrance doors are actual port-o-lets. Unsuspecting shoppers patiently wait their turn until they see three or four people exiting. Upon opening the door they discover a gigantic, modern restroom within.
Check out other award winners from years past.
The public restroom at New York City's Bryant Park got a $200,000 makeover in 2006. The result was referred to as the grandest of the park system's 600 bathrooms.
The Baths of Caracalla it is not, but the new interior has grand 10-foot coffered ceilings, mosaic tiles, a crown molding of painted wood, illumination from brushed stainless-steel wall sconces, indirect cove lighting, a wainscoting of mosaic vines and flowers, mirrors framed in cherry wood and, yes, sinks and a baby-changing table capped with Bianco Verde marble from India.
Even the fanciest fixtures and decor can lose your attention to a great view. Jason described the awesome view from the swanky mens room at the Felix restaurant and bar, on the 28th floor of the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.
For pure laughs, you can't beat the mural behind the urinals at the Sofitel Hotel in Queenstown, New Zealand.
You'll never go wrong by making a nicer restroom for women, at least in my opinion. A stand alone ladies room in London called WC 1 opened in December of 2006 with much fanfare. The retreat covers 4,000 square feet and includes facilities for bathing and dressing, and services such as makeovers, hair care, and massage. There are also toiletries and emergency clothing for sale. The toilets are cleaned after each use. Admission is Â£5.
You can have opulence in your own bathroom, if you have the cash. Manufacturers of bathroom fixtures cater to every budget. Consider the $5,000 toilet. It's called the Neorest 600, from Toto. It has a "washlet" which I had to look up. I believe it's a bidet with an air dryer. The Neorest has automatic sensors that lift and lower the lid and control the flush. Suggested price for the basic model: $5,980.00.
Go medieval with the 5501 "Dagobert" Wooden Toilet Throne, "Inspired by Dagobert, the last ruler of the 8th Century French Merovingian dynasty." Manufacture's suggested price: $14,123.00. Well, it's made from ash wood, hand-painted, and plays music when you lift the lid. It comes with pull-chain flush (which rings a bell), candle holder, and ashtray.
San Francisco artist Clark Sorenson creates flower urinals that are works of art. You can buy them, too. Who puts a urinal in a home bathroom? People who want a beautiful work of art to pee in.
A couple of years ago, there were reports all over the internet about a solid gold toilet at a gold dealer shop in Hong Kong. However, all the source links are gone, so they might have gone out of business. That can happen when you put your money in the toilet.
The most costly toilet on earth is... not on earth at all. For sheer expense, you can't beat the NASA toilet on the International Space Station, which cost $19 million to develop! Despite the price, the toilet is complicated, cramped, and not at all luxurious. That's life in microgravity.
Bonus link (in case you need some comic relief with your relief station): An over-the-top ad for a Korean electronic bidet.