The 7 public restrooms in New York you HAVE to see

ByAlex Meier WABC logo
Thursday, August 13, 2015

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Public restrooms are all too commonly associated with questionable smells and insufficient amounts of sandpapery toilet paper. Get ready for Bryant Park's toilets to flush these preconceived notions down the drain.

Bryant Park's Public Restrooms
Location: Between Fifth and Sixth avenues (West 42 Street side)

Setting the "gold standard," as former parks commissioner Adrain Benepe has noted, Bryant Park's public restrooms were named No. 1 in the world by Virtual Tourist in 2011.

Bryant Park's latrines treat New Yorkers and tourists to fresh flowers, classical music, coffered ceilings and tiled walls. The toilet contains self-changing paper covers that refresh after each use, and to set the bar even higher, a full-time attendant stationed by the sinks ensures that all surfaces are left spotless.

Schiller's Liquor Bar
Location: 131 Rivington St.

Gentlemen, if you visit Schiller's Liquor Bar on the Lower East Side, don't be surprised to open the door to the men's room and find a group of women washing their hands. Even though customers entering Schiller's basement bathrooms will find adjacent doors labeled "women" and "men," both doors lead to the same destination - a communal sink. (The basement does, however, contain gender-specific toilet stalls).

This set-up is intentionally confusing. Bar owner Keith McNally designed these restrooms with trickery in mind, and 12 years after Schiller's opened its doors, customers continue to leave flustered and amused, Yelp says.

"It's (McNally's) sense of humor," said general manager Rich Bubbico.

Location: 10019, 756 Ninth Ave.

Finally -- "The King of Pop" and "Queen B" have their own porcelain thrones. Everything about Midtown restaurant VYNL is music themed, including its bathrooms, which pay homage to superstars Michael Jackson and Beyonce. Each artist's bathroom features a mosaic portrait, glass-cased replica doll, and hit singles blaring from the speakers.

In its previous location, VYNL dedicated its bathrooms to Dolly Parton and Elvis Presley, so when "9 to 5: The Musical" debuted on Broadway, Parton paid her personalized potty a visit. Although the restrooms weren't created solely for garnering celebrity attention, Don Nickolson, VYNL's manager, said Beyonce is more than welcome to drop by.

Waldorf Astoria's lobby restroom
Location: 301 Park Ave.

In the early evening, guests at the Waldorf Astoria may notice some semi-magical transformations: Women enter the lobby restroom clad in power suits and pearls, and exit wearing black-tie attire. The Waldorf Astoria has four ballrooms, and therefore event guests leaving the office find the lobby restroom the perfect place for primping. Even the restroom's Art Deco decor - complete with a dual staircase, marble vanity and faux fireplace - matches with these venues.

The lobby restroom is not exclusively for Park Avenue's bankers -- any woman is welcome to experience this luxurious lavatorial lounge. Unfortunately for guys, the men's room severely lacks the same glitz and glam.

Smith & Mills
Location: 71 N. Moore St.

Smith & Mills' owners Akiva Elstein and Matthew Abramcyk used a piece of Tribeca's history to construct their restaurant's bathroom - literally. There's a repurposed Otis elevator originally manufactured in the early 1900s. Extracted from the historic 287 Broadway building, the elevator maintains some of its original design, from the sliding doors to the color of the wood. Of course, it underwent some alteration, including the installation of an old railroad sink that customers must lift in order to empty.

The originality of the bathroom draws in many curious eyes, and in some cases, a few cameras. Abramcyk said the restroom hosts a photo shoot about once a month, the most recent organized by clothing retailer J. Crew.

The Muse Hotel's lobby restrooms
Location: 130 W. 46th St.

Everyone own vice, and with this in mind, The Muse Hotel in Midtown personalized its lobby restrooms accordingly. Putting its own spin on the seven deadly sins, The Muse Hotel designers assigned individual themes to the six unisex stalls: Passion, Rebel, Glam, Envy, Vain and Macho.

The restroom uses different colors, textures, and fixtures to convey its unique, sinful aura. For example, Vain's walls are decked in reflective tiling and Macho features wood paneling and a mounted antler. All bathrooms surround a communal sink area, which, depending on the wait time, could bear resemblance to purgatory.

Welcome to the Johnsons
Location: 123 Rivington St.

With its dim lighting, worn out coaches and $2 Pabst Blue Ribbons, Welcome to the Johnsons is reminiscent of a college kid's living room. Yet this Lower East Side dive bar has a closet-sized bathroom that takes grittiness to a new level. It's covered from head to toilet seat in amateur graffiti and band stickers. With comparisons to a "gastric apocalypse" on Yelp and a door that won't lock, bar patrons can certainly agree that this restroom has character.