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All too often the restrooms in bars and restaurants miss out on an opportunity to surprise and delight guests, says Abigail Plantier, 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 Plantier, 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 Plantier’s designs with custom wallpaper makes our list).
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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 walking into Porta-Potties.
Below, we’re sharing the best bar and restaurant bathrooms in Denver, in no particular order. Consider these 12 bathrooms must-sees. (Or perhaps must-pees?)
Glo Noodle House
“We wanted the back hallway of the restaurant and the bathrooms to feel like a Tokyo alleyway,” says Ariana Teigland, Glo’s co-owner. As such, one of the restrooms is designed to resemble an arcade, with a custom cabinet built by Teigland’s dad that fits around the sink. The other is a bodega look alike that’s full of Japanese snacks, a flower display, and cigarette boxes. Nothing is for sale; it’s just for looksies (and selfies). 4450 W. 38th Ave.
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.
Sắp Sửa’s minimalist-tinged interior features pale woods, soft greens, and short stacks of books behind the bar. But the bathrooms at the modern Vietnamese eatery on East Colfax take a celebratory design detour. General manager Heeji Kim hung about 60 silver disco balls of various sizes, which shimmer in midnight blue lighting, from the ceilings (she also sports a tattoo of a disco ball on her arm). Also look for her drawings of dogs framed and on display in the bathrooms. 2550 E. Colfax Ave.
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.
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.
Before there was Denver International Airport, Blucifer, and the A Line, Denverites flew out of Stapleton International Airport. The airport shut down in 1995 and left behind a 164-foot air traffic control tower and its attached base. FlyteCo Tower—an eatertainment spot with bowling lanes, pinball machines, Skee-Ball and other games—took over the building and the newly added Over Flyte space has suite-style golf simulators and high-tech axe-throwing. The building pays homage to aviation history, and the bathrooms are no exception. Stalls are wrapped in a colorful collage of vintage flight maps, neon bag tags, and safety brochures, many from now defunct airlines like Pan Am. But even better, live air traffic control broadcasts from DIA are piped in through the sound system. 3120 Uinta St.
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.
If there were an award for the most selfie-ready bathroom in Denver, it’d go to the kaleidoscopic ones at Hey Kiddo, which burst with color. Designer Kevin Nguyen of Regular Architecture covered the walls with multi-hued tiles, which provide a playful backdrop. The bathroom’s multiple mirrors are small squares, perfect for framing just your face (or, peace signs!) Back when Hey Kiddo opened in the Berkeley neighborhood in January 2023, so many people were tagging Nguyen in their bathroom self-portraits that he made a montage of the pics. 4337 Tennyson St.
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 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
With a seven-day deadline, Bar Dough’s re-design in September 2022 could have been fodder for a HGTV reality show. But the team pulled it off, executing a design vision centered on “sitting in mama’s kitchen, making a homemade bowl of pasta that warms the soul,” Plantier says. The host station was transformed with layered antique rugs and a fringe table lamp, while the custom wallpaper designed in house behind the red banquette was inspired by a tapestry you might find in an Italian home, she says. The restrooms’ signs are made from vintage Italian frames and each one has a different custom wallpaper inspired by sweet little trinkets you might find in a curio cabinet: butterflies, birds, and flowers—all with an Italian twist. 2227 W. 32nd Ave.
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
TrashHawk is a Broadway dive bar where you can suck down Everclear Jello shots or get a pour of Coors Light with a shot of Root Beer Schnapps to drop in for $6 (it’s the bar’s version of a root beer float). Much of the bar is furnished with thrifted finds, including the bathrooms—an absolute delight covered in vintage magazine ads for Schmidt beer, Marlboro cigs, denim boots, and other novelties. Bonus: Come the holiday season, the bar decorates its Christmas tree with empty beer cans. 1539 S. Broadway