Once Again, Cintas’ “Best Restroom” Award Went to an Airport

by SharonKurheg

If you travel a lot, you know that not all bathrooms are created equal. Some have some weird designs like the ones we’ve discovered in a variety of hotels over the years:

Meanwhile, at airports, there are other differences. Some are small and cramped, some aren’t cleaned nearly often enough, etc. Chicago O’Hare used to have these funky things, and more modern rest rooms sometimes have these little lifesavers.

Public restrooms can be quite unpleasant, but some restrooms across the country are a real delight. They are clean, spacious, and have enough stalls to ensure little to no waiting time. In fact, since 2002, the “best of the best” public restrooms have been recognized and awarded by Cintas.

If the name “Cintas” sounds familiar, it should. Founded in 1968, Cintas Corporation is headquartered in Cincinnati, OH. They provide products and services to businesses, including first aid and safety products, fire extinguishers, testing and safety courses, uniforms, mats, mops, cleaning and, HELLO, restroom supplies.

Cintas has been awarding the America’s Best Restroom Awards since 2002. As they describe it:

While most people would likely characterize their trip to the restroom as a fairly unremarkable experience, we at Cintas think it should be unforgettable! Have you seen a unique, impressive restroom? Maybe it’s elegant, eclectic or downright quirky. As long as it’s immaculate, inviting and, most of all, memorable, it’s fair game!

The reality is that restrooms matter to the public. How a business maintains its facilities is a reflection of a business’ commitment to customer service.

Now, a growing number of companies are going the extra mile to create the most memorable restrooms imaginable, and we are recognizing those establishments with Cintas’ America’s Best Restroom® award. Cintas is on a mission to locate America’s porcelain pioneers who are taking dramatic steps to create unforgettable facilities.

Anyway, each year they have a certain number of restrooms that have been nominated. The more “different,” the better. After nominations are in, ten finalists are chosen and voting begins. Here are the winners from 2002 to 2023:

  • 2022
    Tampa International Airport – Tampa, FL Tampa, FL (Whoop whoop, an AIRPORT won! EWR’s all-gender resroom in Terminal B was also up for the running that year)
  • 2021
    Two Cities Pizza, Cincinnati, OH (one of the runners up was JFK Airport’s Terminal 4)
  • 2020
    Bancroft Park, Colorado Springs, CO (that was a huge year for travel-related restrooms! The runners up included The Guild Hotel in San Diego, the Kimpton Muse Hotel in NYC, DFW Airport and AirTrain JFK’s Jamaica Station)
  • 2019
    Nashville Zoo, Nashville, TN (once again, 2 other airports were runners up: Sea-Tac and LaGuardia Airport Terminal B)
  • 2018
    J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Sanibel, FL (No airports that year, but Hotel La Jolla Curio Collection in La Jolla, and Dream Hollywood Hotel in Hollywood were both reunners up)
  • 2017
    OdySea Aquarium, Scottsdale, AZ (the Renaissance Chicago Downtown Hotel, in Chicago was also nominated that year)
  • 2016
    Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (WHOOP WHOOP! Good thing it won, too – no other travel-related restrooms were nominated that year)
  • 2015
    Town of Minturn Public Restrooms, Minturn, CO (no travel-related restrooms that year)
  • 2014
    Longwood Gardens Philadelphia, PA (I went there a couple of times, when I lived up north. Beautiful gardens!) (No hotels or airports that year, but the restrooms at The Mai Kai were nominated that year. I love that place! Here’s our review from one of our visits. The Mai Kai has been closed for a couple of years due to a roof collapse but they’re fixing it and it’s scheduled to reopen in 2023)
  • 2013
    Varsity Theater Minneapolis, MN (the Waldorf=Astoria New York and Tampa International Airport were runners up that year)
  • 2012
    Buc-ee’s, New Braunfels, TX (BE STILL MY HEART! Y’all know how much I love Buc-ee’s!) (Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago was also nominated that year)
  • 2011
    The Field Museum, Chicago, IL (Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel, in Crystal City VA, was one of the runners up that year)
  • 2010
    The Fountain on Locust St., St. Louis, MO (NYC’s The Muse Hotel and the Salt lake City’s Grand America Hotel were also nominated that year)
  • 2009
    The Shoji Tabuchi Theatre, Branson, MO (Baltimore’s Tremont Plaza Hotel was one of the runners up in 2009)
  • 2008
    The Hermitage Hotel, Nashville, TN (21C Museum Hotel, in Louisville KY, was also nominated that year)
  • 2007
    Jungle Jim’s International Market, Fairfield, OH (that place is a destination unto itself. One of these days I’ll get there!) (no travel-related restrooms that year)
  • 2006
    Wendell’s Restaurant, Westerville, OH (Another airport was nominated that year! Quad City International Airport, in Moline, IL)
  • 2005
    Fort Smith Regional Airport, Fort Smith, AR (another nominee that year was The Madonna Inn, in San Luis Obispo. Another place that I’ll get to, one of these years)
  • 2004
    Kohler Art Center, Sheboygen, WI (no travel-related restrooms that year, but a shout out to the Waffle House in Lawrence, MI, which was a runner up!)
  • 2003
    The Grand Casino, Biloxi, MS (a victim of Hurricane Katrina, Grand Casino no longer exists) (The Madonna Inn was a runner-up this year, as well)
  • 2002
    University of Notre Dame (Main Building), South Bend, IN (no travel-related restrooms that year)

The winner for 2023

After TPA won in 2022, you’d think there’d be no way another airport would win in 2023…but you’ be wrong. The winner of Cintas 2023 America’s Best Restroom® Contest was BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport!

The airport’s new restrooms on Concourse B opened in this past spring as part of a large program to modernize and enhance restroom facilities throughout the terminal. The $55 million program is expanding and improving restrooms on Concourses B, C and D.

From Cintas:

The newly constructed restrooms at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport maximize occupant capacity while enhancing the overall passenger experience. The entrance welcomes travelers with an aesthetic mural and seating area while they wait for their companions. The new restrooms feature bright, spacious, fully enclosed stalls for privacy, touchless fixtures and individual lactation, adult changing and family assist rooms. Each restroom features a state-of-the-art smart restroom system that integrates with color-changing, LED stall occupancy lights and digital signage at the restroom entrances showing current availability. The smart restroom system also provides real-time inventory tracking and usage counts for custodial services.

From BWI’s Twitter (sorry…X):

BWI’s prizes for winning this coveted award include a Cintas UltraClean restroom cleaning service and $2,500 in Cintas products and services for restroom cleaning or facility management.

No other airport was in the running in the top ten, although one resort – Snowbasin Resort, in Huntsville, Utah – was.

“We’re honored to be recognized by Cintas and contest voters for our commitment to providing a positive passenger experience and outstanding facilities,” said Ricky Smith, Executive Director/CEO of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. “Passengers rank restrooms as an airport’s number one amenity. That’s why we work so hard to provide creative, clean and inviting restrooms to make travel more enjoyable.”

Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.

Want to sponsor a post, write something for Your Mileage May Vary, or put ads on our site? Click here for more info.

Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and sign up to get emailed notifications of when we post.

Whether you’ve read our articles before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!

This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

1 comment

Jason S November 30, 2023 - 3:31 pm

I used to work at BWI. Their janitorial partner Chimes (who also helps folks with intellectual disabilities find jobs and get to/from work) does a great job. Even the older restrooms are usually very clean and they try to station someone at the high traffic locations. Glad to see new restrooms with higher capacity in A and B concourses because those were too small almost from opening… Southwest expanded rapidly and then upgauged to 737-800 on many flights.


Leave a Comment