LOOS WITH VIEWS
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 20 publicly accessible bathrooms are some of the quirkiest, most luxurious, oddest, and artistic washrooms in the world.
JAMES BOND-THEMED BATHROOM | SWITZERLAND
The restaurant Piz Gloria at the top of Mount Schilthorn features Bond-themed facilities, which won this year's International Toilet Tourism Award. In the men's room, gentlemen are exhorted to "Aim like James," and "Shake, don't stir," and an image of Bond girl Diana Rigg appears in the mirror when the guys wash their hands. In the women's room, visitors will hear a clip of Bond suggesting, "Tonight, my place – just the two of us."
PALMETTO BREWERY | SOUTH CAROLINA
MINE PASSAGEWAY RESTROOM | COLORADO
A tiny town a couple hours west of Denver, Minturn offers public restrooms that reflect the area's mining heritage with a design that looks like the entrance to a Colorado mine. One of Design Curail's top picks in 2017, the restrooms feature shiny copper doors with depictions of elk, and inside the restrooms are adorned with colorful metal butterflies and other nature images that accent the area's rustic outdoor environment.
KAWAKAWA PUBLIC TOILETS | NEW ZEALAND
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.
LADY BIRD LAKE TRAIL RESTROOM | TEXAS
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.
USTER PUBLIC TOILETS | SWITZERLAND
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.
HIROSHIMA PARK | JAPAN
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.
'DON'T MISS A SEC' | VARIOUS LOCATIONS
This large mirrored box 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. The eye-catching loo was first installed outside London's Tate Britain museum in 2004, and the project has since been transported to various locations around the globe, including Australia's Bondi Beach, by the Unilever Foundation and UNICEF to raise awareness around the issue that millions of people lack access to toilets and proper sanitation.
KUMUTOTO TOILETS | NEW ZEALAND
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.
POP-UP TOILETS | EUROPE
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.
AURLAND LOOKOUT | NORWAY
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.
DAIMARU | TOKYO
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 BATHROOM | CHINA
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.
CHUNG YO DEPARTMENT STORE | TAIWAN
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 | MINNEAPOLIS
The Varsity Theater in Minneapolis won Cintas' America's Best Bathroom of 2013 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 | FLORIDA
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 | PENNSYLVANIA
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 | KANSAS
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 | CALIFORNIA
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.
JUNGLE JIM'S | OHIO
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.