We went to every public bathroom in downtown Denver. We have notes.
Now that we can be in public again, we should reacquaint ourselves with restroom options.
The city of Denver lists only eight public restrooms on its official website, including the brand-new one on Champa and 16th installed in early March.
All the bathrooms are within about 4.5 square miles of each other, with the northernmost bathroom in Commons Park, about two miles away from the one farthest south, in the still-closed Central Library. By comparison, Seattle, with a population similar to that of Denver, lists ten public bathrooms in an equal-sized chunk of downtown. And while Denver lists only eight total, Seattle’s map from 2018 (the most recent available) contains over a dozen in downtown and over 100 in total.
So what do these eight public restrooms in Denver have to offer? We did the dirty work to find out.
Here they are, from north to south.
But first, if you’d like some bossanova to accompany this read:
The Commons Park Bathroom
Where: The south side of Commons Park, near Little Raven and 16th streets
Notes: The small stone building has nice teal doors and a very classy font labeling men’s and women’s, but both were locked when we got there. A heavily-tagged Porta-Potty served as a replacement, although it had no toilet paper and a suspiciously moist seat.
The Skyline Park Bathroom
Where: Corner of Arapahoe and 16th Street Mall (Bonus: it’s right next to a mall security outpost)
Notes: The inside was clean and well stocked. The toilet and push-button sink are metal, and the soap is automatic. According to our photographer Kevin, the men’s cold water wasn’t working, and the hot water was “seriously too hot.” And there was no stall door or toilet seat in the men’s. The bathroom does offer a needle disposal box.
Keep in mind, this restroom is only open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends.
The New One
Where: On Champa Street and the 16th Street Mall
Notes: This bathroom is small, sleek and high-tech. The outside features signage in braille and multiple languages, as well as detailed instructions about the restroom’s self-cleaning features and how to open the doors in case of power failure. When you enter one of the stalls, an overhead speaker welcomes you and lets you know about the ten-minute time limit before playing some elevator music. Everything, from the toilet paper to the sink to the dryer, is either automated, motion-triggered or activated with the press of a button. A city employee monitors the site.
This bathroom is open every day, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Webb Building Bathroom
Where: The Wellington Webb Municipal Building on 15th Street and Court Place
Notes: To reach this bathroom, you’ll have to go through security, including a metal detector, at the building’s entrance. It might not be worth it, since this is a very standard, although completely acceptable, bathroom — but it does have compostable paper towels!
The bathroom is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
McNichols Building Bathroom
Where: The back of the McNichols Civic Center Building at the intersection of Colfax Avenue and Bannock Street
Notes: This bathroom is easy to find, but this ease of access comes at a price. The stall door must remain open at all times, and users are given only a curtain between the sink and toilet for privacy. This is an attempt to curb drug use. A Denver Parks and Recreation employee is also on-site every day. All the appliances are metal and clean. The toilet paper and paper towels were well stocked, and the appliances worked — all of them except for the air hand dryers.
City and County Building Bathroom
Where: Inside the City and County Building
Notes: This bathroom is on the other side of a security checkpoint with a metal detector. Once you’re inside, you’ll have to guess which hallway to follow – the men’s is on one side of the spacious building and the women’s is on the other. The bathrooms themselves are clean and well stocked.
The bathroom is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.
Colorado State Capitol Bathroom
Where: Inside the basement of the State Capitol
Notes: Once you find the entrance, which may take a few trips around the building, there’s one last security checkpoint to go through. This bathroom is on the bottom floor of the Capitol, and also contains some of the rare rose onyx decoration found elsewhere in the building. Since the legislative session ended on June 8, the building was a bit deserted and creepy. Great bathroom, though.
The bathroom is open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The Central Library Bathroom
Where: The Central Library on 14th Avenue and Broadway
Notes: The Central Library, and its bathroom, are closed for renovations. We’re excited to see what they eventually look like. Luckily almost all other Denver Library branches are open once again.