Worth a Go: 17 Unique Bathrooms Every Tourist Should Check Out
For tourists looking for the ultimate in free sightseeing, the most utilitarian attraction may be none other than a public restroom. There are numerous bathrooms around the world that regularly draw crowds not simply for their intended purpose, but to be seen for their unique characteristics. These 17 publicly accessible bathrooms are some of the quirkiest, most luxurious, oddest, and artistic washrooms in the world.
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The public bathroom in Kawakawa on New Zealand's North Island was the last project designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who lived in the town from 1975 until his death in 2000. The tourist-worthy toilets feature eye-catching sculptures, a rainbow of tile designs, and a live tree in the middle of it all.
Fresh air, light, and modern design combine in a public bathroom in Austin, Texas, that has won accolades for looking more like an art installation than a bathroom. This commode along the Ann and Roy Butler Hike and Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake allows for views of the outdoors while inside the structure, as well as a steady stream of natural airflow.
In the middle of a concrete-filled city street in Uster, Switzerland, sits a brilliant green and yellow box reminiscent of a giant wrapped present plopped into the middle of the street. The dramatic exterior belies the simple but functional restroom within. The box is covered with aluminum strips that shimmer depending on the sun's angle and viewer's perspective.
Colorful origami cranes were the inspiration for the 17 restrooms sprinkled throughout Hiroshima Park. The bathrooms' outside walls are coated in a glossy paint chosen for easy maintenance, while cutout circles in the concrete exterior allow for plenty of air.
The large mirrored box sitting outside London's Tate Britain museum isn't just a good place to check if something is in your teeth -- it's also a restroom, where those inside taking a break can watch gazers outside admiring their own reflections in the one-way glass. Designed by artist Monica Bonvicini and called "Don't Miss a Sec," the cube can be more awkward for those inside than out. It's difficult to fathom that people staring from the other side can't see in.
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To some, this set of two public toilets in Wellington, New Zealand, looks like barnacles clinging to a boat, while others suggest the structures look more like crustaceous sea creatures. Either way, the Kumutoto toilets are unique enough to be named one of the world's 10 best public toilets in 2014 by Design Curial. While the outside looks extraterrestrial, the inside has all the comforts of a modern bathroom.
As dusk hits in a number of European cities, including Amsterdam and London, strange circles rise slowly out of sidewalks. Watch your feet, or you may just find yourself on top of a pop-up toilet. The toilets can be found in numerous neighborhoods filled with pubs and bars that get busy at night and on weekends but don't require a public toilet outside of those time frames. With multiple pop-up toilets throughout Europe, this is possibly the easiest must-see themed bathroom to visit.
This popular stop for travelers in Aurland, Norway, houses a bathroom that looks like it's hanging over a cliff. The overlook offers incredible mountain views, making this possibly one of the most scenic bathrooms in the world.
Travelers to Tokyo won't want to miss the Daimaru department store -- not to shop for luxury goods but to see the incredible toilets. Each level of the store has a luxurious bathroom designed to match the floor's ambience. Some toilets have heated seats and others play sound effects to mask bathroom noises.
Chongqing, China, claims the largest public restroom in the world. The bathroom features about 1,000 toilets situated on four stories. But it's not just the size that's of interest -- the crazy designs are also one of a kind. Look for unusual sinks shaped like women, crocodile urinals, and entertainment options such as music and TV throughout the facility.
Fifteen fascinating bathrooms with fun themes can be found at Chung Yo Department Store in Taichung City, Taiwan. Some of the restroom designs include a Coca-Cola room, a "Wizard of Oz" room, and a "Finding Nemo" bathroom complete with live fish. What's more, the men's room features a bar stocked with beer for anyone who needs a recharge.
The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis won America's Best Bathroom of 2013, as chosen by bathroom product supplier Cintas, thanks to its luxe design. The restroom is decorated with majestically ornate decor reminiscent of a sexy lounge, which the bathroom partly is. Concertgoers can buy drinks from bartenders while relaxing on the restroom couches.
Sloan's Ice Cream in West Palm Beach, Florida, was among the top 10 bathrooms nominated in 2013 for best bathroom in the country. One winning feature: bathroom windows that frost once the door is locked on the inside, so outsiders can't see through the glass to the stall.
Longwood Gardens, a horticultural space in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, has beauty that goes beyond its gardens -- straight to its bathrooms. Longwood's 17 public toilets are integrated into a 4,200-square-foot living green wall. The eco-friendly facility, which features its own docents, won the 2014 Cintas America's Best Restroom award.
Bowl Plaza at the Grassroots Art Center in Lucas, Kansas, came in second in the 2014 competition for America's Best Restroom. What's so special about the No. 2 finisher? The building itself is shaped like a toilet, and features ornate decor that matches the town's theme as a folk art hub.
The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo, California, is called the ultimate in kitsch, with toilets noted as a tourist attraction by the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce. The bathroom's most unusual feature is perhaps a urinal with a motion-activated waterfall. Another urinal incorporates an old-timey waterwheel, a nod to the bathroom's Old West motif.
This destination-worthy grocery store in Fairfield, Ohio, has what look like port-a-potties sitting in the middle of the store for customers to use. But, surprise: Open the door and inside is a full-fledged bathroom complete with jungle-themed decorative hangings. The design won the store the America's Best Restroom award in 2007.