In a Best Bathroom Contest, the Natick Mall Ranks…Number Two

Always a bridesmaid, never the bride.

Photos courtesy Cintas/Natick Mall

While we didn’t quite take the crown, we’ve still got some top-notch thrones here in Massachusetts.

The Natick Mall’s first floor restrooms (across from Nordstrom) officially earned second place in the “America’s Best Restroom” contest, an annual high-stakes tournament of toilets. Bathrooms from across the country duked it out for $2,500 of restroom and facilities management supplies from Cintas, the Cincinnati-based company that sponsors the competition. Nominees for the contest are selected based on factors like cleanliness, innovation, and functionality, among others.

“While most people would likely characterize their trip to the restroom as a fairly unremarkable experience, we at Cintas think it should be unforgettable!” the contest’s website reads. “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!”

Scrolling through the “Hall of Fame” on the contest website, it looks like winning is (sorry) kind of a crapshoot. In past years, the title has gone to bedazzled bathrooms, like those at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge in Sanibel, Florida, but also more low-key lavatories, like the University of Notre Dame’s main building facilities. A Massachusetts bathroom has never taken the top title in the contest’s 17-year history.

The contest’s website praised the Natick Mall’s chandelier-adorned waiting room, makeup stations, and private changing/nursing rooms. It also noted that the bathrooms boast wall outlets, lounge chairs, and a marble shelf in each stall to hold bags and personal items.

The pretty privies haven’t escaped the notice of casual mallgoers either.

How could any toilet possibly top this? The first place prize went to the bathrooms in the Nashville Zoo’s Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear exhibit. Those bathrooms don’t have chandeliers, marble shelves, or lounge chairs—but the women’s room has a floor-to-ceiling glass-walled exhibit featuring six cotton-top tamarins, and the men’s has a Boelen’s python enclosure perched right above the urinals.

“The Nashville Zoo was able to turn its public restrooms into another attraction, and the public responded in a very positive way,” said Sean Mulcahey, Cintas’s Marketing Manager, in a statement. “Public restrooms meet many needs, so it’s important that they’re not only clean, and well-maintained, but also memorable because it can impact the success of your business.”

It’s devastating to come so close to victory, only to be outdone by a python and a handful of primates. But when you start to think about what the mall equivalent of “turning the public restroom into another attraction” would be (squeezing sale racks inside stalls? serving Panda Express samples at the sinks?), second place suddenly doesn’t sound so bad. Plus, the final lineup of latrines was stacked—the mall beat out New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art, Seattle’s Sea-Tac airport, and restaurants across the country to bring the silver home to Massachusetts.

Congrats on your near-win, Natick. Next year, though, we should perhaps put one of Boston’s best restaurant bathrooms in the running—this list is certainly flush with potential.