A freelance writer, and amateur photographer Dora also teaches creative writing classes. Check out her website at www.creativejuicy.com
Published May 18th 2011
New York is a city of pedestrians and amblers. This can make you thirsty, and if you spend a whole day walking, often stopping for coffee breaks or drinks, this can necessitate regular visits to a restroom.
Whether there are design elements that make a restroom worth a detour, or simply offer clean, comfortable facilities, here are a few that are worth a visit. Technically, these are all open to the public, however the restrooms within the restaurants mentioned require that you are a patron.
PEARL RIVER MART. This great Asian emporium gives shoppers more than an amazing array of unusual, well priced clothing, goods, furniture and miscellaneous must-haves. Surprisingly, they can also boast the nicest public bathrooms in SoHo. A cheery yellow paint job makes them sparkle, and they're placed on the lower level near the stairs - so you can surreptitiously sneak in without pretending to be a customer. However, it's a wonderful store and chances are, you'll want to at least take a look around.
CHA AN is a wonderful tea house on the lower east side. A great rest stop after a day of exploring the city - with tea prepared the traditional Japanese way. Great too for that necessary rest stop, with arguably the most high-tech bathrooms in the city. The ladies' room is dark and subtle, housing an electronically operated toilet/bidet imported from Japan. You'll leave Cha An feeling refreshed in every way.
CRATE & BARREL. This well known home furnishing mega store is within 'gotta-go' distance of anywhere in SoHo and NoHo. Clean, spacious and quiet, the staff and security will turn the other cheek as you dash in from the street. But hey, who can resist a look around Crate and Barrel anyway. You never know what you might see that you didn't know you had to have.
PEEP. The perfect place to enjoy a cheap thrill in the bathroom. You could do a lot worse than actually eat out at this quirky SoHo Thai restaurant . The menu is wonderful, the decor is fabulous, but the restrooms are R-rated. The walls are done in one-way glass, so the occupant can see out into the restaurant, but the patrons see only mirrored glass. And for a further risque touch, there's a video screen above the sink playing steamy films.
BAR 89 is another place where the bathrooms are a favourite with YouTube enthusiasts. This lively bar has unisex bathrooms, but you have to trust that the fog in the glass when you pop into the cubicle will cloud you from view before you finish your business. If you're not game enough to 'go' to the bathroom, at least have a cocktail there, as they're great.
THE WALDORF ASTORIA is a classy hotel on Park Avenue, and one of New York's most iconic. So when you do have to go there, you'll find there's always so much activity in the lobby that nobody will notice you slipping into the restrooms (conveniently located across the hall from Sir Harry's bar). They're nothing special, but clean and comfortable - and the great thing is that you can always say that your number one (or two) restroom is the Waldorf Astoria.
BRYANT PARK is always on route to somewhere. I have to admit that Bryant Park restrooms, while not blaringly advertised are one of the greatest marvels of midtown. They are located in a small, quaint stone building behind the New York Library. They're constantly supervised and kept wonderfully clean, fresh smelling and a pleasure to visit when the need arises.
The above are the super (toilet) bowl of restrooms, but of course all the major department stores like Bloomies, Saks, and Macy's have perfectly adequate restrooms whether you are shopping there or not. But the bottom line is - when you gotta go, you gotta go.