It pays to be unique when you're going for the title of best restroom in the land. Design details are crucial, and so is the choice of materials. It also doesn't hurt if you serve drinks in a commodious chamber. Those are the strengths of the Varsity Theater, a concert hall in Minneapolis that has won America's Best Restroom Contest for 2013.
With its curvy walls finished in wood and brick, the Varsity's fantasy-land bathroom has separate stalls for men and women that extend off of a central washing-up area and a lounge, both of which are unisex. The sinks' shower-head faucets are activated by a lever on the floor.
"The restroom, decorated with ornate, gilded mirrors, sassy text plates, and bricks laid as if by a drunken mason on a bender, invites guests into an Alice In Wonderland-like grotto," according to the entry's description, "to relieve themselves and re-live childhood fairy tales."
The facilities also have four times as many stalls for women as for men.
"I ask the audience to spend a short time immersed in a make-believe world, leaving their cares behind and yet in a social way," Variety owner Jason McLean says in a news release announcing the victory Tuesday.
In the lounge area, patrons can grab a drink from a window that opens to a bar's back counter. Known for its music shows and other entertainment, the Varsity began life as the University Theater, a vaudeville house that opened in 1915.
The Varsity's restroom was chosen by online voters who judged a group of finalists for the competition, organized by business services company Cintas.
"The team at Varsity Theater understands the value of a well-maintained and memorable restroom," says John Engel, senior marketing manager at Cintas. "What they have is more than a creative concept. It's an effective business tool that keeps people coming back."
So, Varsity is No. 1. Voters chose Portland's Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade as No. 2. It features a Pac-Man-themed black tile floor. And from Texas, the Public Glass Bathrooms on the Square in Sulphur Springs took No. 3, with a clean, industrial bathroom that's situated in an open space — and covered with mirrored glass.
Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.