Business travelers on the go know it's sometimes difficult to find a welcoming and clean place to, uh, go.
So it's encouraging to see the 10 posh potties, cool commodes and imaginative public washrooms that restroom supply company Cintas has flushed out as nominees in the 12th annual contest for America's Best Restroom.
The family-friendly restrooms at Chicago's Field Museum won top prize in 2011 and last year the 83-stall restroom at a new Buc-ee's convenience store in New Braunfels, Texas, just outside of San Antonio, was named king of the thrones.
"Guests look at the public restrooms as a clue to how the entire operation is run," said Katie Davin, associate professor and director of hospitality education at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I.
"If the bathroom is clean, that's a good indication that the kitchen is probably clean. If the restroom is out of paper towels, maybe management isn't really on top of things. And if a restroom has TVs in the mirrors and cool music playing, that's a good sign the business is probably modern and hip," she said.
Guests have surprising recall about whether or not a hotel restroom is unkempt and in need of renovation or whether or not it's "wow," said Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the New York University Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management. "And many non-guests expect hotel restrooms to be especially clean and safe and will stop at hotels, en route, whether they're walking or driving, to use the restrooms."
So, like that bit of toilet paper that sometimes gets stuck to the bottom of your shoe, the condition of a restroom can linger and, said Hanson, "enhance or harm a hotel's image beyond the experience of hotel guests."
Voting for America's Best Restroom ran through Oct. 31.
The eclectic restroom at the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, which offers patrons bar service and a view of the stage, has been crowned America's Best Restroom for 2013.
"People talk about how fun our bathrooms are and on concert nights we often find people in there taking selfies," said venue manager Shayna Melgaard. "Now we're excited to be recognized nationally for having a restroom that's considered a great place to hang out."
Here's a closer look at a few of this year's nominees.
—By Harriet Baskas, Special to CNBC. She is the author of seven books, including "Hidden Treasures: What Museums Can't or Won't Show You," and the Stuck at the Airport blog. Follow her on Twitter at @hbaskas