Loop Humor: Best Restrooms of Downtown Kansas City
Becky Brown presents the bathroom awards that exactly no one asked for
Why yes, yes these ARE the bathroom awards that exactly no one asked for. But we need to celebrate the little joys in life, and sometimes finding the exactly right restroom is a true joy. After years — nay, decades — of research, here is my list.
Best Bathroom for Pretending You’re a 1920s Movie Starlet
If you’re looking for plush and lush, this old movie palace has the restroom for you. I don’t know what kind of carpet padding the Midland uses, but even walking to the bathroom is luxurious in that “Darling, have Jeeves pull the car around” kind of way. That “Of course I own multiple cigarette holders” sort of way.
As far as the restrooms go, you’ve got old fixtures, jewel tones, and wide, full-length mirrors that make all other mirrors feel bad about themselves. But you’ve also got a rather hidden former smoking lounge that came from Cornelius Vanderbilt II’s New York City mansion.
Say what? Yep. When Vandy’s mansion was being sold for scrap in the 1920s, Marcus Loew bought the Moorish-inspired smoking room and installed it in his new Kansas City theatre. Flatland has all the juicy details.
Best Bathroom in Which Not to Die
H&R Block Headquarters Lobby
When a tornado warning interrupts the workday, consider what an extended, life-threatening weather event may mean to Future You. Will the you of an hour from now need to use the facilities? Or will Future You be able to play it cool, like impending death isn’t already enough to make her wet her pants?
I was fortunate to work in this building for several years. But one dark, spring day, there were choices to be made. While hundreds of my coworkers were crammed into stairwells or hunkered down in the underground parking garage, a pal and I luxuriated in the ladies’ room in the lobby. Did sitting on the tile floor end up making us numb from the waist down? Sure. Was a room with a large mirror the ideal tornado hiding spot? Probably not. But dammit, we had access to water and toilets. And everyone lived happily ever after.
Best Bathroom for Meeting a Stranger Who Lives in a Town of 1,300 People That’s Five Hours Away and Just Happens to Be Where Your Family Is From So of Course She Knows Your Cousins
I cannot stress this enough: Talk to people while you’re in line.
That is all.
Best Bathroom for Letting the Little Kid in Line Behind You Go First
On paper, these restrooms don’t seem like much. Both the men’s and women’s are one seaters. If you’re waiting in line, you’re loitering in a narrow-yet-busy hallway. But! You’re in a family restaurant. And that hallway you’re standing in is lined with family photos. And everything smells delicious. And if you’re in line, you’re probably a cocktail in.
So when a mom and a maybe 4-year-old came to stand in line behind me, my problems were few. The little girl, however, was balling her skirt up in her fists — the clock was obviously ticking. Kudos to a family restaurant for reminding me that taking care of each other is what it’s all about. We all just take turns being the one with the questionable bladder, anyway.
Best Bathroom for Deciding You Are a Hideous Ogre
Tie: Every office building, 2000 - 2010
There was something about restroom design — or lack thereof — during the first decade of this millennium. That combination of fluorescent lights, beige, and pale gray just made you want to give up on life.
Back in the day, I worked in a few office buildings that sported such demeaning design. In compiling this list of Major Awards, I was pleased to find that most appear to have been recently remodeled — so no naming names. When we know better, we do better.
I just hope this means that their corporate denizens no longer step into the restroom for respite and leave wondering what the hell happened to their once young, hopeful visages. But to the men and women who survived that traumatizing era? I see you. And you really don’t look that bad.
Best Bathroom for Channeling Your Inner Grandparent and Being All, “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To”
Once one of KC’s largest office buildings, this gem of the West Bottoms still sports many original features — and the restrooms are not to be missed. Seriously. Drink a bunch of water just to make sure.
What’s so special? Marble tile. Stall doors made of heavy wood. Beautiful fixtures. Natural light. High ceilings. These bathrooms have seen some shit, but there’s something about them that feels calming and austere. Whatever you’re worried about right now won’t even be worth remembering a year from now. Listen to The Bathroom. The Bathroom understands. The Bathroom wants you to take a breath and go back to your desk and don’t let Debra boss you around. The Bathroom will outlive us all.
BONUS: Bathroom With the Best View of Downtown KC
Is this restroom technically Downtown? Erm, not really. But did I actually use this restroom? Also no. But I didn’t use the restroom because I was too busy looking at the view.
Canary’s rooftop is a surprise little jewel above a busy Midtown intersection. It offers views of Downtown as well as KU Med and what appears to be Oklahoma. I stood in line for the tiny bathroom on the rooftop but got carried away by the leafy views all around me. I guess I didn’t really have to go.
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