It's not easy to find a public bathroom in this city, as we've pointed out in the past. The good ones are all fiercely guarded by baristas and hostesses, while the free ones tend to look like something you'd find at the end of a Saw film. But one intrepid New Yorker has done the hard work of finding and rating public bathrooms all over town, and he's helpfully compiled them into an Instagram account for locals and tourists in need.
Andrew Paul Maksymowicz, a 31-year-old Williamsburg resident, launched the Pooper's Guide in October, an effort that culminated in a decade's worth of local restroom research. "I've been a public bathroom critic for NYC for 10 years now," Maksymowicz told Gothamist. "In college I knew the best bathrooms to go to when I wanted to skip class or go between classes. I have family in New York, so I brought those skills of knowing the best bathrooms around campus to the city, as I wandered around Times Square by myself, needing to go to the bathroom and thinking, why is there nowhere good to go?"
Maksymowicz put together a 26-page ranking of restrooms in a (never published) book, and last year he decided to make his work more accessible to the public—hence the Instagram account. He assesses bathrooms based on accessibility, amenities, size, comfort, and cleanliness, and includes an age-ranking so parents know where to find a changing table or other kid-friendly appendage. "I look inside cabinets, if there's a cabinet. I look for something that adds to the experience of using the bathroom, like does it have the amenities I'm looking for, smelly soap or hand-dryers," Maksymowicz said.
He also likes to check to see how easy it is for a layperson to walk into the bathroom, without having to purchase something from the establishment. "As a connoisseur of bathrooms, I can get into any bathroom anywhere, due to my skills, if i may, whether it's talking to the hostess or just walking in and blending in," he said. "But I look at an establishment before I enter and i think, would anybody be able to just walk in off the street, and if they're not confident enough to ask, just use the bathroom?"
Plaza Food Hall (@ the Plaza Hotel) - Poopers Rating 💩3/5 Location: Midtown West Ages 4+ Good for a family to use Poopers Expert Advice (PEA) - It can be hard to use, I recommend entering the basement bathroom at the Todd English Restaurant and head to the restroom 🚽Cleanliness (CL) 3- It is clean for the amount of traffic that is coming through 🚽Comfort (CO) 3- Each individual stall is cozy, large doors make it feel like you're protected from the world, but the downside that takes away from the comfort will be the foot traffic that could distract you from pinching off properly 🚽Accessibility (AC) 2 - Again, if you do not enter from the Todd English restaurant entrance leading downstairs, you will have to walk across the whole basement past countless shops, it's a doable walk and you won't need to pack a lunch to make it to the restroom 🚽Size (SZ) 4- This bathroom is huge, it offers lots of stalls and room to spread out 🚽Amenities (AM) 3 - Has plenty of sinks to wash your hands, only two hand dryers by Dyson and a water fountain outside. It also offers toilet seat covers which is nice #pg #newyork #poop #funny #poopersguide #tourist #manhattan #centralpark #photooftheday #plazahotel #plaza
Maksymowicz has ranked over 40 bathrooms on Pooper's Guide so far, with entries including Henry's End in DUMBO, Andaz 5th Avenue, the New York Public Library's main Manhattan branch, and the Plaza Food Hall. He has a few of his own favorites, too. "The Ace Hotel is awesome," he said. "They have great bathroom stalls upstairs that are cozy and private-feeling, and then downstairs in the lobby, they have great restrooms in general, with large stalls." He's also a fan of the restrooms at Felice restaurant on Gold Street, and Nordstrom Rack in Union Square. "It's not glamorous by any means. The seats are a little too high off the ground," He said. "But if you're in the area, it's usually fairly easy to get in and out. Not many people use it."
He is not, however, into the bathrooms at the Burlington Coat Factory near the Financial District, where he's "seen people cleaning up at the sink and shaving." Irving Coffee on the Upper East Side "didn't particularly strike me as anything besides kind of bland, and awful decorwise and comfortwise." And though we heralded the bathrooms at the Port Authority Bus Terminal way back when, Maksymowicz says those babies are "highly avoidable."
As for the worst thing Maksymowicz has ever seen in a public bathroom: "One deli bathroom I went to in Times Square was used as a storage closet for employees, so there were coats piled up everywhere," he said. " The place looked clean when you walked into the deli part, but then you go use the bathroom and there's a pile of coats. I was like, what the hell is going on right now?"
Keep your eyes peeled for a Pooper's Guide app, which Maksymowicz hopes to launch next month.