Volker Hartmann/AFP/Getty
Nate Jones
November 19, 2013 06:00 PM

Toilets are nothing to turn up your nose at. As World Toilet Day – traditionally observed on Nov. 19 – reminds us, even the most basic bathrooms can help protect people from germs and diseases. Meanwhile, on the more luxurious side of things, a few designers have played with the toilet’s form and function to create endlessly inventive spaces.

Cintas started its annual America’s Best Restroom contest as a way to celebrate bathrooms that make an art out of doing your business. On Tuesday, the the business services giant announced its 2013 winner: the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which transports visitors into a whimsical fantasyland … that you’re allowed to pee in.

Varsity Theater restroom, Minneapolis, Minn.

The Varsity Theater restroom.
Courtesy The Varsity Theater

To commemorate the occasion, let’s explore some of the other luxurious lavatories around the globe. We bet they all smell amazing.

Female Urinals, Xi’an, China

Women students at a toilet in Shanxi Normal University in Xi'an, in northwest China

Countless women have complained over the years that the lack of urinals in ladies’ restrooms results in long lines and aggravating waits. In 2010, Shanxi Normal University in Xi’an, China, made an effort to relieve this problem by installing female urinals, complete with instructions for confused undergraduates.

Egg Pods, London, U.K.

WC Pods at Sketch, London.

The French cuisine at London’s Sketch restaurant has earned it a Michelin star, but as many Yelp reviews show, most diners leave just as entranced by its futuristic pod-shaped toilets.

Sticky Fingers, Mönchengladbach, Germany

Urinals at the restaurant Rosenmeer in Mamp#246;nchengladbach, Germany.
Volker Hartmann/AFP/Getty

Rolling Stones-inspired lip-shaped urinals have popped up all over the globe, including this pair in the Rosenmeer hotel in Mönchengladbach, Germany. They often don’t stay up long – a similar style of loo in Vienna’s National Opera was removed in 2006 after protests they were offensive to women.

Orange Outhouses, Tel Aviv, Israel

Orange-shaped washrooms on the street in Tel Aviv.

Orange you glad they’re here? These vibrant restrooms are a welcome sight for any traveler who has indulged in a little too much musical fruit.

Whimsical Washrooms, Kawakawa, New Zealand

The decorated interior of the Hundertwasser public toilets

If you seek artist Friedenrich Hundertwasser‘s monument, look to Kawakawa, New Zealand, where the reclusive Austrian designed a public restroom full of the plant life and colorful mosaics that were his trademark. As Hundertwasser’s final work, the toilets have become a major tourist attraction for this tiny North Island town.

The Previous Champ: Field Museum, Chicago, U.S.A.

Artwork of a cloudy sky is at the center of a bathroom at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois
Alex Garcia//Chicago Tribune/MCT/Getty

Before the Varsity Theater was honored, the bathrooms in Chicago’s Field Museum held the America’s Best Restroom crown on the strength of their earth-friendly sinks and relaxing sky-inspired decor.

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