Archive for the ‘Restroom Reviews’ Category

Freer Sackler: Welcome Relief From the Mall—Restroom

August 11, 2014

The Freer Sackler Gallery has many restrooms from which to choose, depending upon where you are in the Gallery. On this particular afternoon I was going to see a film in the Gallery’s Meyer Auditorium. Entering the Gallery from Independence Avenue, and after having my purse inspected, I made my way to the closest restroom near the guard. On a hot, humid August day, this room provided a refreshing break—cool and light—just what the doctor ordered.Freer Sackler

The restroom has four stalls and one handicapped booth, all with automatic flushers. There are four sinks, each with soap dispensers and a wall of mirrors above the sinks. The room has two paper towel dispensers and, for a change, there is no waving of hands or other gyrations necessary—you just pull the paper. At 1:30 p.m. the restroom was still neat and fully stocked. The room has a changing table and a little couch on which to sit.

This is a great place to be before partaking in some culture in other parts of the Gallery, attending one of the Gallery’s movies or just taking a break from the heat.

Freer Sackler 1050 Independence Ave SW,Washington, DC

Mandarin Oriental Hotel: A Gift from the Gods—Restroom

July 9, 2014

Ladies: Had a tough day in your dingy, grey, government building? Feeling like an unappreciated slug? Need to freshen up for a hot evening out? Amidst a sea of DC blandness, an oasis of splendor appears at 1330 Maryland Ave SW—the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.mandarin-oriental-washington-dc

Walk into the hotel like the queen you know you really are and head straight to the back, past the posher than posh glass-enclosed handbags and jewelry displays.

Open the door on the right and slip into the lap of luxury that awaits you in the Mandarin’s ladies’ restroom. Let all of your senses drink it in…the mirrors, the lighting and the hidden stalls to your left. To call them stalls is really an injustice. In reality, they are more like beautiful closets, each with its own wooden door. There are five of these “closets” and two larger handicapped “closets.”

Next take a look at the individual sinks. Each sink has its own mirror and each comes with bottles of Gilchrist and Soames soap and lotion for your cleansing 1 (3) When you are done, dry your hands with the monogrammed towels. Can they really be paper? To the touch they feel more like a luxurious 1500 thread count Egyptian cotton, but paper they are. photo 3 (2)It’s almost as if this is where paper goes to die. It seems like a sin to throw them away, but there is a beautiful wooden chest in which to discard 2 (3)

You can check yourself out in the full-length mirror and then it’s time to go. It will be hard to leave, but the rest of the evening…or day awaits.

Ballston Macy’s: Martha Stewart’s Touch Needed—Restroom

March 12, 2013

Just got off at the Ballston Metro stop and need to use the restroom before an interview or engagement? You have a friend at Macy’s.  A quick elevator ride to the second floor and a trip to the back of the floor will bring you front and center to the ladies restroom the way God intended…large and full of mirrors. However that is where the fun ends.macy's

The good?

There are six sinks and three hand dryers and lots of mirrors. The sinks look brand new with a beautiful countertop on which to place your pocketbook.

The bad?

When you first enter the restroom area there is a huge lounge area, but where to sit? Where are the wall hangings? It’s dingy and features a yucky pink color scheme which carries into the stall and sink area. Macy’s…you carry Martha Stewart furnishings. Can’t you at least open up one of her books and use some of her decorating tips? And talk about bad branding. The changing table in the room is labeled “Hechts.” Oops.

Although there were eight stalls, only four were working. Also, the ventilation system was reverberating at such a fever pitch, it felt like a plane was going to land on the stalls. It made one feel very strange and if a pregnant woman was there, I think the vibrations would make her feel extremely uncomfortable or even bring on an early delivery.

However, the restroom area is convenient, clean and large. Sometimes that’s enough.

4238 Wilson Blvd.  Arlington, VA 22203

DuPont Starbucks: Tim Gunn Couldn’t Have Done a Better Makeover

February 19, 2013

Stealing from Barbra Streisand’s Oscar acceptance speech…”Hello Gorgeous!” The newly renovated Connecticut Avenue Starbucks is worth every penny spent on its renovation. Now a two-story coffee shop, it’s cheery, light and airy.

The first floor offers several seating areas and best of all, you’re no longer sitting on top of one another. The first floor also has two large, clean restrooms with changing tables.starbucks-stairs-dupont-e1342110520892

Adventure upstairs and you are in for a treat. There are couches, tables, tables and chairs and plenty of outlets for laptops. Unlike the second floor at the Georgetown Starbucks (M Street NW, near Wisconsin), whose top floor feels like an afterthought, the DuPont Starbucks doesn’t need to provide customers with flashlights so they can see where they are going. It’s actually bright… like stepping into your own living room. It’s wonderful! One can only hope the Georgetown manager will take a page out of this Starbucks’ playbook and do some sprucing up.

Oh, yes, they still sell coffee.

Starbucks, 1501 Connecticut Avenue, NW

Chevy Chase Pavilion: It’s Alive!

January 29, 2013

Have you made a recent visit to Chevy Chase Pavilion? I hadn’t been there in a while because the ongoing construction made it a formidable challenge to enter and exit the building. It literally took me half an hour to find my way out one Saturday afternoon. But I digress. Recently I took my chances and wow! The make-over is by no means complete, but what is finished is something else.

The design is certainly not staid, but right now it’s hard to say that it’s customer-friendly either. The lighting is purply blues and pinks, which can be cool at night, but during the day is a little odd.  At first I thought I had stumbled into Studio 54, but once I let the surroundings settle in, I did feel like I was entering something special as I took the newly lit escalator to my floor.Chevy Chase Pavilion escalators

The Cheesecake Factory still calls the Pavilion its home, but now it has competition. Say “hello” to “Top Chef’s” Bryan Voltgaggio and his newly opened restaurant, Range. I haven’t yet dined there,but I can’t wait. The restaurant is enormous and serves a wide variety of food made possible by its seven mini-kitchens.

But wait until you see the revamped Starbucks. It’s still on the lower level, but that is about all that is the same. What was once its front is now its back and vice versa. And the seating area…Yikes! It’s huge and comfy…more like a lounge and it’s very inviting.

The little store near the Metro entrance is still in its space…still available for those losing (at least for me) lottery tickets and other last-minute purchases. J Crew, CVS, World Market and Ritchie & Co. Shoes are also open for business.  Other stores will be joining them eventually, but the largest neighbor will be H&M. From the looks of things, it seems as if it will be enormous.

Finally, the all important restrooms. The separate facilities for men and women are no longer. Now there are two unisex facilities with a changing area for babies. The area is relatively clean and because you can lock the door it feels a lot safer than the old facility.

I’ll follow up with an update when the renovations are complete. But the signs of life are definitely encouraging. Now if someone would only help out Mazza Galleria.

Uptown: A sad tribute to Kevin Costner—Restroom

July 26, 2010

As you make your way to the Uptown Theatre’s balcony restroom, you can’t help but notice the trail of Kevin Costner posters along the way. Very bizarre, you think to yourself. Inside the dark makeup area of the ladies’ room there’s a “Dancing with Wolves” poster. Also very bizarre. This area is huge, which is a waste since the light bulbs haven’t been changed or replaced in years, making it very hard to fix one’s makeup or see how bad or good one looks. Go inside the stall and sink area and you’ll notice the difference immediately. It’s bright and has the benefit of a window that looks directly out onto Connecticut Avenue (although not so close that those on the outside can see in). There are 5 narrow stalls, no hooks on the doors and two sinks. Sometimes the dryer works, sometimes it doesn’t. The entire ladies’ room  is decorated in Pepto-Bismol pink and just has a sad vibe to it. Kevin Costner deserves better.

Grab Some Culture While You’re At It—Restroom

April 29, 2010

Cafés aside, it’s not easy to find a public restroom in DC’s Penn Quarter/Chinatown. There’s no department store in the area and you have to be inside the Regal Movie Theatre or the Verizon Center as a paying customer in order to use their restrooms. What’s a person to do in an emergency?

Relax. The National Portrait Gallery is your friend. It’s right in the heart of Penn Quarter and not as crowded as some of the other museums. The Gallery is free and you don’t have to have your bags checked by security.

There are restrooms on every level which means there’s not much, if any, wait. The restrooms are clean, bright and well-stocked. And while you make your way to the facilities, you have the opportunity to see some beautiful works of art. It’s possible to become so enthralled you might forget your planned trip to the movies or Ann Taylor shopping and, god forbid, avail yourself of some culture.

The only caveat is the hours—the Gallery is open daily from 11:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. 

National Portrait Gallery, Eighth and F Streets, NW, DC  20001

Starbucks: Changes in Penn Quarter

April 29, 2010

Something really great has happened at several Starbucks in DC’s Penn Quarter. They’ve been refurbished and the winner is the consumer.

457 7th St NW. This Starbucks now has fewer couches and smaller tables. They’ve been replaced by family-style tables and long counter-tops and stools made from dark wood. The counters face out onto  the street. The refurbishing makes it possible for more people to have a seat and linger over a cup of coffee.

What hasn’t changed is the service and the restrooms. The baristas are the slowest of any Starbucks I’ve encountered. The people are very nice, but they just don’t seem to have their act together when it comes to taking orders and serving coffee.

No revamping of the restrooms. They work and sometimes that’s the most important thing.

800 7th St NW.  This two-level Starbucks has replaced its couches and many smaller tables with large, family-style tables for sharing and long countertops and stools, all made from dark wood. The number of outlets along the walls near the counters makes it easier than ever to hook up to the Internet without exhausting one’s batteries.

This particular Starbucks seems to be home to a lot of writers, students and tourists. The larger tables enable more folk to have a seat while enjoying their lattes.  Although the line of tourists can be frightening, the visitors usually grab their coffee and leave. The staff is also terrific–they are jovial and quick.

What separates this Starbucks from the pack? Three restrooms—a unisex restroom on the first floor and individual men’s and women’s restrooms on the second level. This particular women’s room is gigantic, well-lit and stocked and even has the xcelerator hand-dryer.

Sometimes change is good.

Cosi:McPherson Square Friend—Cafe

March 25, 2010

Open the door to the  Cosi  near 14th and H Street NW,  and you’re in for a small shock. This particular Cosi is housed on two levels and boy, is it busy.  The second level is great if you want to get away from the hustle-bustle of the main level, read a book, work on your laptop, prep for an interview, or as I observed on my noon-time arrival, have a working business lunch.

Cosi’s food is freshly made and extremely tasty. Soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, pizza—Cosi has it all. The salads are not terribly cheap, but they are so worth it. Sandwiches are delicious—made with some of the best bread in town.  Or, of course, you can just purchase a great cup of coffee.

Not so good? The restrooms. You are given a key and told to go downstairs. The whole area is very creepy and I was so freaked out I’m not even sure if the door to the restroom locked. You actually need the key to open the door leading back to the main floor. Advice? Skip the restroom and use the Starbucks’ restroom in the Starbucks down the street.

1333 H St NW  Washington, DC 20005

Hyatt Regency: Fit for a Queen—Restroom

March 22, 2010

Need a quick touch up before meeting friends for drinks or dinner in Bethesda? Not sure how long the trip on the Metro could take? No need to take chances when you’ve got a ready friend at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda. Walk through the front door and keep walking until you’re near the restaurant. Take a look to the right and that’s where you’ll find a fabulous restroom. Bright, mirrored, spacious…yowza! There’s a sitting area separate from the stalls and sinks. There’s a full length mirror, clean stalls and more sinks than stalls. What else is there to say? This restroom has it all.

Hyatt Regency Bethesda One Bethesda Metro Center,7400 Wisconsin Ave., Bethesda, MD 20814

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