Wednesday 31 December 2008

Best and Worst Toilets of 2008

2008 proved to be a landmark year for Where’s the Toilet?

We managed to review more than 150 bathrooms around the world, including some in some faraway and exotic locations as Russia, Singapore, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Australia and more, and also visited toilets in some famous settings, like the Grand Canyon, the Hermitage Museum, Universal Studios Orlando and Grand Central Station, to name a few. Sadly, despite many requests, we were unable to review the toilet in the Minneapolis airport where Sen. Larry Craig was charged with “disorderly conduct.” Maybe next year...

Now that the year is over, we’ve chosen to post our second annual Best and Worst Toilets of the Year list.

So without further delay....

The Top 5

1. Mansion at Forsyth Park (Savannah, GA)

Easily the best of the year -- nothing else came close, and this was the best restroom we visited since our stop at the Wynn Las Vegas bathrooms (which topped our Best Toilets of 2007 list). As we said in our review of the Mansion, this is "a regal, marble-filled environment filled with amazing architectural frills, top-notch cleanliness and peaceful feelings."

2. Barrier Island Sanctuary Management & Education Center (Melbourne Beach, FL)

The best environmentally conscious (or "green") bathroom we visited this year, with a relaxing beach theme woven into the experience. "This bathroom has a lot of ambition and wants to be both stylish and environmentally friendly, and it pulls it off," we said in our review, "putting other high-profile locations to shame, really."

3. Pan Pacific Hotel (Singapore)

Quality is the name of the game at this luxurious stopping point, which features such high-end flourishes as walnut and veneer toilet stall doors and granite walls. "I could spend plenty of time in this place any time," we said in our review. "I look forward to my next visit."

4. Paris Las Vegas Hotel and Casino (Las Vegas, NV)

We visited plenty of Las Vegas bathrooms this year, and while none matched the jaw-dropping wonder of the Wynn Las Vegas bathrooms, this one, with its art nouveau decor and European feel, came closest.

5. Islands of Adventure at Universal Orlando (Lost Continent Toilets) (Orlando, FL)

The best theme park bathroom we experienced this year. Clean, quiet and practically kid-free -- the fact that it's somewhat tucked away from the park's major attractions certainly helps the quality factor, we thought.

Honorable Mentions:

Pearl Restaurant (Vero Beach, FL) -- A small one-bagger located in a homey restaurant on Florida's Atlantic coast. It takes the elegance of Vegas and brings it down to the everyday level, but doesn't lose the "wow" factor in doing so.

Bicester Outlet Shopping Village (Bicester, UK) -- The best UK bathroom we visited this year. Wood walls, Gilchrist and Soames hand soap, floor-to-ceiling toilet stall doors -- why couldn't the rest of the UK toilets we experienced have been this comfortable?

The Bottom 5

1. Southwest Indian Traders (Cortez, CO)

Not so much a bathroom but a collection of shoddy parts that have been put together without any care. The walls do nothing to protect you from the wind outside (and yes, the wind will catch you where the sun doesn't shine). The visible roof rafters above house dozens of cobwebs. And not all the plumbing works. As we said in our review, "Put an outhouse in the parking lot instead -- it would actually offer more comfort."

2. Kappy’s Submarine Sandwiches (Maitland, FL)

More the setting of a horror movie than a proper bathroom, this place features lights that grow dimmer the longer you stay and a used ketchup bottle containing watery, ineffective hand soap. "This is the stuff of nightmares," we said in our review.

3. Oxford Railway Station (Oxford, England)

The worst English toilet we experienced this year -- and there were some doozies! While it seems clean on the surface, the smell inside was overpowering and nearly every toilet was filled with excrement. Worse still, an attendant stood by the whole time, doing nothing. "Just a disgusting experience," we said in our review. "I wanted to shower after leaving."

4. CVS Pharmacy, HWY 80 (Savannah, GA)

The worst-smelling bathroom we visited all year -- with a smell so foul that you start smelling it from down the hall. A popular store like this should know better.

5. Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House (Savannah, GA)

Part of Paula Deen's restaurant empire and where the Southern food queen films her Paula's Party show. The place specializes in seafood you eat with your hands, like peel-and-eat shrimp and oysters, but the bathroom doesn't have soap to clean your hands with, or towels -- just Purell and a hand drier that doesn't work. As you can imagine, the fish odor here is pretty extreme.

Honorable Mentions:

Homebase (Oxford, England) -- A home repair store where almost everything in the bathroom is out of order and covered in filth. Word to the wise: Don't touch anything!

Waffle House (Walterboro, SC) -- A notch below the typical Waffle House bathroom, with plenty of grime-covered utilities and a not-so-heavenly aroma of trash and mildew in the air.

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