Some say you can tell a lot about a restaurant’s kitchen by its bathroom. The premise: If a business doesn’t put effort into what you can actually see, imagine how bad what you can’t see is.
Of course, this is not true across the board. It’s impossible to keep up with the toilet habits of all patrons all the time, and sometimes the landlord won’t allow changes to certain rooms. Other businesses might argue that by saving money on a bathroom remodel, they can pass those savings down to you.
But a nice restroom is sure a fun bonus, isn’t it?
Call us crazy, but we notice these kinds of things. And we do judge a place by its restrooms. At least in part.
The first rule about the best bathrooms is to not tell anyone about the best bathrooms. But kick us out of the club, because we’re talking. Here are our favorite bathrooms in Boulder County — the beautiful, the quirky, the convenient and the artistic.
1. Sun Deli & Liquor, 2299 Pearl St., Boulder
Prepare to be surprised in this charming deli-slash-liquor store on east Pearl Street. Sun Deli’s restroom is a work of art. The walls, toilet tank and toilet lid are a colorful mosaic of swirling tiles and mirrors. It’s easy to get lost in the detail and beauty of this small room. Although Sun Deli delivers vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free food (and alcohol and cigarettes), take the time to stop by for a sit-down meal, and not only to see the restroom.
2. Dark Horse, 2922 Baseline Road, Boulder
As soon as you walk through the door, you’ll know this college bar is unique. All kinds of unusual paraphernalia hang from the ceiling and walls: movie props, antiques, wheels, gears, antique signs. You’ll find a fire hydrant on the bar counter and a jukebox in the hallway.
When you head to the bathroom, make sure you haven’t tipped one too many pints. The oversized, colorful signs can trick you. One door says “women” and one says “men,” but the words are written on hands pointing to the other door, which is the correct one. Don’t be surprised if you see someone walking out of (or into) the wrong bathroom.
This landmark sports bar has an almost carnival feeling to it, and it’s got fantastic burgers, too. Feeling wild? Try the Rocky Mountain oysters.
3. St. Julien Hotel and Spa, 900 Walnut St., Boulder
Whether in-room or public, the restrooms at the St. Julien Hotel are what you would expect from this high-end resort. Guest rooms feature oversized bathrooms with granite countertops and slate floors, plus luxurious, signature Canyon Mint bathroom products, soft robes and slippers. The public restrooms near the lobby have solid wood doors and single-use cloth towels to dry your hands on.
The best bathroom here is in the spa. Head to the award-winning spa’s locker rooms for stunning, grotto-style showers made out of floor-to-ceiling rock. You’ll want to stay all day.
4. Bramble and Hare, 1970 13th St., Boulder
This small, quirky, farm-to-table restaurant in downtown Boulder extends its style into its single-person restrooms. They are pretty wild, decorated with antique farm machinery, photos of farms and farm families and rabbit-lined wallpaper. The most unusual feature has to be the massive meat scale in the restroom. You just don’t see that next to every sink.
5. University Memorial Center, University of Colorado campus
Here’s a nod to CU’s student center for offering a multi-staff, all-gender restroom. Although it’s not fancy or decorated oddly, the idea of a public restroom with multiple stalls that is open to any and all genders is a novelty, even in progressive Boulder. The restroom is located on the UMC’s second floor in the northwest wing.
6. Hotel Boulderado, 2115 13th St., Boulder
The public restroom next to the lobby in the elaborate, historical Hotel Boulderado isn’t, in itself, spectacular. But it’s situated right next to one of the coolest features in Boulder: an ornate drinking fountain that spouts “pure, cold water from the Boulder-owned Arapahoe Glacier.”
The sign refers to Boulder’s purchase of a watershed of lakes filled with the glacier water and then brought into town. The water claims to be 99.996 percent pure. Give it a try to see if you can tell the difference.
While drinking fountains are a rarity today, one with this historical significance is even more special. Even the faucet is antique. It’s a must-try in town.
7. The Sink, 1165 13th St., Boulder
Here’s something you don’t usually say: When you go to The Sink, grab a table as close to the restroom as possible. This colorful restaurant is covered in murals from floor (on)to ceiling. There’s a fake bathroom entrance painted on the wall by the restrooms. It’s endless entertainment to watch people who have had one too many pints walk straight into the wall, thinking they’re entering the restroom.
Other notable restrooms in Boulder County:
- The Longmont Museum and Cultural Center, 400 Quail Road, Longmont, designed a beautiful bathroom full of color, patterns, vines and flowers on the ceiling. It was funded by the Art in Public Places Commission.
- The Louisville Public Library, 951 Spruce St., in Louisville, marks one of its public restrooms with colorful wall of floor-to-ceiling tiles that surround the drinking fountains.
- The Best Western Plus Boulder Inn, 770 28th St., Boulder, offers guest rooms with oversized restrooms, featuring a custom granite vanity, brushed nickel hardware, upgraded shower head, dual flush toilet and a nice line of bath products and soaps.
- The restrooms at Zolo, 2525 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, are comfortable and nice, featuring unique art by a local artist.