All too often the restrooms in bars and restaurants miss out on an opportunity to surprise and delight guests, says Abigail Plonkey, the chief experience curator at local creative agency Maximalist – Experience Design.
But really, these small spaces should go big on design—“the crazier, the better,” says Plonkey, an interior designer and brand strategist who frequently works with hospitality clients. “Restrooms may be one of my favorite places in a restaurant or bar to design,” she confesses. “I love to sit back and hear people’s reactions when they return to their seats.” (Ahead, one of Plonkey’s designs makes our best bathrooms list. Let’s just say it’s bananas).
So what exactly makes a bathroom stand out? It could be pretty wallpaper like the flock of flamingos and lush palms that inspire mirror selfies at Brasserie Brixton. Or it might be unexpected details that get people talking like Postino’s custom-stamped toilet paper, or the mob posters in Gaetano’s bathroom, or even the bathroom exteriors at Bang up to the Elephant that bamboozle you into thinking you’re about to walk into Porta-Potties.
Below, we’ve ranked some more of the best bar bathrooms in Denver. Consider these seven bathrooms must-sees. (Or perhaps must-pees?)
A clandestine drinking den in Cherry Creek, B&GC’s bathroom beckons selfie-takers. Like the bar itself, the high-design restroom is sexy. It has a gold geometric mirror and is dressed in an artistic wallpaper featuring bare legs, amplified with a kaleidoscope effect. 249 Columbine St.
6. The Family Jones Spirit House
Sink into a sapphire blue banquette and enjoy views of a 17-foot copper still while sipping on an Earl Grey gin cocktail at the Family Jones Spirit House in LoHi. Interesting design details can be found throughout this pretty tasting room, from the vertical planters on concrete walls to the custom-made, black-and-white wallpaper in the bathroom. The vintage images on the wallpaper have the same intrigue as film reels of old family movies. 3245 Osage St.
5. Three Saints Revival
Three Saints Revival, a Mediterranean tapas spot with wine and cocktails, is seriously dreamy. The restaurant is fully committed to a bohemian dream sequence, which is woven into every inch of the space—even the restrooms, says restaurateur Robert Thompson. The hallway outside the bathroom is covered in custom-made wallpaper that incorporates common dream imagery like hands, teeth, and snakes. Once inside the bathroom, the frames on art pieces bend so they can reach ceilings and curve around corners. “The design of a restaurant space is integral to the entire experience, and I never want our guests to exit the experience just because they’re taking a restroom break,” Thompson says. 1801 Wewatta St.
4. Whole Sol
OK, technically Whole Sol isn’t a bar. But it is a “blend bar” serving smoothie bowls and cold-pressed juices. And the cheeky, banana scratch-and-sniff wallpaper in the restroom of its LoDo location makes it one of the most delightful in the city. The Flavor Paper wallpaper is an expression of the brand’s personality, says Plonkey, who designed the space. The mirrors read: “stop and smell the bananas” to nudge guests to give it a sniff. 1735 Chestnut Place
3. Room for Milly
Room for Milly is a gorgeous LoHi bar complete with velvet curtains, terrazzo floors, and hand-painted wallpaper. The design seamlessly carries through to the baroque-inspired bathroom, which has sub-tropical floral elements wrapping the walls. “The ceiling monkey lamp draws the most attention, bringing a playful juxtaposition to your typical bathroom setting,” says Phillip Hua-Pham, brand experience manager of Mainspring, which led the design. The bar’s bathrooms feature special hand soaps, lotions, and diffusers with notes of rose, tobacco, and jasmine. 1615 Platte St. Suite 145
2. Fire at the Art, a Hotel
The Art, a Hotel practically doubles as a museum and the fourth-floor bathrooms outside of the Fire restaurant and bar make for a nice exhibit. In the men’s restroom, there’s a mosaic of a man, and when it’s reflected in the mirror, it completes his face—a fantastic visual trick. In the women’s restroom, there’s another mosaic that features the full face of a woman that has the same affect. Each of the images are made from individually arranged, single-colored tiles. 1201 Broadway
1. Cabrón Carbón
The bathrooms here are so creative here that they practically double as art galleries. Denver artist A. Michel Velázquez Rosas from the Brighter than Love gallery (1855 Blake St.) created glow-in-the-dark murals for Cabrón Carbón, a taqueria and tequila spot. One of the modern urban art murals celebrates Mexican movie star Maria Felix and one of her famous phrases: “A woman is very complicated and difficult; it is a labyrinth where anybody can get lost easily.” The other is a tribute to Mexican singer Vicente Fernandez. 1043 N. Broadway