New York Today: Toilets Fit for High Society

By ALEXANDRA S. LEVINE
MAY 9, 2017

There’s something regal about sitting on the toilet while listening to Mozart’s “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.”

We know, because we tried it.

The newly renovated bathrooms at Bryant Park, which The Times has described as the “Tiffany’s of public restrooms,” reopened last month after a $280,000 makeover.

So we stood in line to see whether the praise was justified.

The latrine smelled as fresh as the park air outside.

Classical music played above the swish of the self-flushing toilets.

Pink and green blooms — a mix of peonies, roses, viburnums and hydrangeas — spilled over the sides of a large limestone urn, and smaller vases of freshly cut plants lined the sinks and the white marble counter.

On one wall of the women’s bathroom was “Fountain, 2014,” a watercolor by the artist Anne Kullaf, depicting a sprightly plume of water on a spring day — or, as the placard described it, “Bryant Park en plein air.”

The smell from a dirty diaper at the baby-changing station went in one nostril and out the other, chased away by the aroma of the floral-fresh hand soap.

Even the hand dryers are posh — minimal, sleek silver and quiet enough to still hear Mozart’s melody in G major.

The bathroom is somewhat symbolic of Bryant Park nowadays. After years of being plagued by drugs and crime, the green space has evolved into a gem in the heart of Manhattan.

Brooke Astor, a New York socialite, was the inspiration behind the bathroom renovation, according to Dan Biederman, the president of the Bryant Park Corporation. As the park created the luxury lavatories, design scouts explored bathrooms in some of the most high end hotels and restaurants across New York City for inspiration.

Want to take a look yourself?

Enter the restroom on 42nd Street, in the northeast corner of the park.

A tip: Go on a weekday, but not during lunch hour or a special event, when waits might be about 20 minutes. (Around 3,000 visitors, on average, use the toilets there every day.)

And don’t forget to check yourself out in the full-length mirror before leaving. For some, the green-blue wall tiles, evocative of an ocean floor, may bring out the color in your eyes.