Best Public Restrooms in New York City

Public Restrooms New York City


New Yorkers are just like the rest of us, and all 8,008,278 New Yorkers have to use a restroom at some time or another. So where does the city that is always on the go...go? Here's a list of five of the best public restrooms in New York City that will help you out in a pinch.

Midtown East/Above Times Square: Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers

The Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers lobby is packed with tourists, guests, and locals 24 hours a day. Ignore the expensive bar and restaurant to the right and the comfy wingback leather chairs to the left. Walk through the great room that is surrounded by hospitable hotel receptionists and concierges, and when you arrive at the back wall that hosts the bag check and gift shop, take a right down the immediate stairs or ramp. Follow that with a quick left down the first hallway. Bathroom signs mounted off the ceiling and near the stairs also guide this New York City hotel's guests. Once in the bathroom, it's all about quiet luxury. Marble tiles, silver fixtures, and soft hand towels create a signature New York City restroom oasis away from city noise. These may be some of the best public restrooms in New York City. And there's plenty of stalls, so the hotel's visitors won't be, er, stalled.

Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers
811 7th Avenue 53rd Street
New York, NY 10019
(212) 581-1000

Union Square: Barnes & Noble

Welcome to a four-floor bookstore! Barnes & Noble's Floor 2 is smartly designed, placing a clean, brightly-lit bathroom in the high-traffic, young reader section. The design is generic and sensible, and it's a safe place to wait in line with babies in a stroller or little ones, where they can be distracted by meeting new friends or drooling over new picture books. The wait is a little long, but as long as you understand that there are a lot of kiddies and parents stopping at this New York City bathroom, then this is the one for you. If you're in a hurry and your little one can't wait, book it to Floor 3. There's another bathroom there, identical to the one on Floor 2, with fewer young 'uns around and a quicker turnaround. And that makes for a much happier shopping experience for everyone involved.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Union Square
33 East 17th Street
New York, NY 10003
(212) 253-0810
Store Hours: Daily 10AM-10PM

Washington Square Park/NYU Area: Washington Square Park South Side

Washington Square Park is home to Greenwich Village bohemians, Trustafarian NYU students, artists, bakers, comedians, and clowns. This New York City neighborhood houses free, public restrooms on the south side of the park. Toilet paper is plentiful, and the bathrooms feature some of the most entertaining New York City restroom reading/street art (a.k.a. graffiti) around. These New York City bathrooms are scheduled to be remodeled in 2011.

Washington Square Park South Side
W 4th St and Waverly Pl (Between MacDougal Street and University Place)

Upper West Side/Central Park: Time Warner Center/The Shops at Columbus Center

Besides the eclectic shopping and dining options at the Time Warner Center, one of the best things about the Shops at Columbus Center is the safe, modern bathrooms that are located on the 2nd floor of the building. There is plenty of space for shopping bags and although there is a long hallway to these bathrooms, it is a brightly lit and safe walkway. Consider these New York City rest stops if you're in the area.

Time Warner Center/The Shops at Columbus Center
10 Columbus Circle
New York, NY 10019
(212) 823-6300
Hours: Mon-Sat 10AM-9PM, Sun 11AM-7PM

Washington Heights/Upper-Upper-West-Side Manhattan: The Cloisters Museum

The Cloisters Museum, at the northernmost tip of Manhattan, is a branch of the Metropolitan Museum. Featuring religious and lay architectural elements, it offers an oasis of quiet contemplation amid the hubbub of the city. In addition to the stunning cloistered garden, it is home to a collection of 5,000 medieval works owned by The Met. Nearby Fort Tyron Park is a great place to spend the day with its playgrounds, dog runs and sports courts. But one might notice that there are no public restrooms in this New York City park. That's where The Cloisters comes to your rescue. To get to the bathroom at The Cloisters, you'll have to walk through a cold, brick cave hallway, where the temperature drops by about five degrees. This restroom is a convenient place to stop before embarking on the long subway or bus ride back into Midtown. If you can't visit The Cloisters for the entire day, at least pick up a postcard to remember your artful stop. The Cloisters is one of the hidden secrets of New York City, and their bathrooms are a saving grace for visitors in need.

The Cloisters Museum
99 Margaret Corbin Drive
New York, NY 10040
(212) 923-3700
Hours: Closed Mondays, Tue-Sun 9:30AM-5:15PM (March-October), Tue-Sun 9:30AM-4:45PM (November-February)
Museum Admission: $20 for adults, $15 for seniors 65+, children under 12 are free (must be accompanied by an adult)

A Houston native, Kayla Cagan has worked as a writer and theater artist in New York City. Her plays and essays have been published in several anthologies, including Dirt: The Quirks, Habits, and Passions of Keeping House. Read her blog on Red Room.

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