Though it is purportedly one of the world’s great destinations, New York City doesn’t really care if you gotta go.
Much to the chagrin of pained tourists and leg-crossing natives, there is an unbelievable catch to life on the floating prison colony of Manhattan: Toilets are off-limits to anyone who doesn’t pay rent for where that toilet is located. It’s inconvenient and maddening.
No more! Here’s where to go when you need relief both urinary and gastrointestinal.
Warming up: Starbucks, everywhere
Starbucks locations dot this city’s landscape like caffeinated chicken pox. Nearly every one of them offers public restrooms, though they are far from “hidden.” Instead, we present them to you here as your foundation of restroom relief. It’s your bathroom baseline—though you can do far better than a quick visit to the Starbucks bathroom, there are so many of them that you’re really not allowed to do any worse.
We’d like to thank Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz for effectively making any Starbucks location into a Manhattanite’s equivalent of a gas station bathroom. It’s there if you need it.
Several notches above: Time Warner Center, Columbus Circle
When in doubt, get to 59th Street. The Time Warner Center is basically a mall, though this mall’s bathrooms are discreet and far enough off the beaten path that you’re sure to find a place for private relief. They are always clean, the stall doors lock tight, and then you have excellent proximity to shopping once you’ve relieved yourself.
Non-obvious but lovely: Best Buy, Union Square
Best Buy is so much more than an Amazon electronics showroom—it’s also got a nice bathroom. There’s never a line, so help yourself.
They have toilets: Barnes and Noble, Union Square
It is not clean, but it is accessible. Do what you must.
Relieve yourself near television history: Rockefeller Center, Midtown
With so many tourists flowing through the doors of this historic landmark, bathrooms are readily available, though NBC doesn’t go out of its way to publicize them. Get inside, go down to the “basement,” and ask someone in a uniform where the bathrooms are. The quality of the facilities here are about on par with those at Yankee Stadium—perfectly acceptable, but with an atmosphere that discourages you from lingering.
Go on a secret mission: Marriott Marquis, Times Square
There is a certain self-righteousness that low-level authority figures—security guards, hotel staff, whoever—love to display when it comes time to deny someone access to something. Do not engage with them here. Walk tall, look confident, and escort yourself to the eighth floor of this hotel, where a secret bathroom awaits you.
Just pretend you’re there for a very important meeting. After all, you are.
Pee next to “nature”: NYC public parks, everywhere.
It’s a utilitarian move, but sometimes you just gotta pee in a hut next to a tree next to a swing set. Here is a handy guide to which NYC parks have bathrooms.
For the home decor enthusiast who needs a bathroom break: Crate & Barrel, Downtown
Their catalogs are hefty enough to use as doorstops, and their bathrooms are comfortable enough to welcome anyone who needs to use them. Thanks, Crate & Barrel, for saving us from hell.
Did we forget any of your favorite hidden NYC bathrooms? Let us know!
Photo via Jon Seidman/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)