These days, the best restaurants in Chicago are putting just as much thought into décor as they are menus. Heck, the James Beard Foundation even praises the craft with an award category in restaurant design (fun fact: Pacific Standard Time took home top honors in 2019). Some of our favorite restaurants and bars are taking their decorating efforts one step further and doing it up in the most unexpected place: the bathroom. And why not? Considering the long-lasting impact of the holistic dining experience—from soundtrack and service to lighting and libations—these industry aces understand the value in making the commode just as fun as it is functional. Serving ’70s vibes and stellar skyline views, these are the most beautiful Chicago bathrooms in which we’ve ever had the pleasure of piddling.
The most beautiful bathrooms in Chicago
We wouldn’t blame you for sneaking off to the restroom between courses of caviar and cacio e pepe at this glamorous West Loop restaurant. The upscale space doubles as the ultimate powder room, with an opulent chandelier, a plush pink ottoman and perfectly lit vanities. Adding to the feel are luxe design details like textured wallpaper, massive gold mirrors and a black marbled floor. This is one of the only times we wish it wasn’t frowned upon to bring your drink into the bathroom.
After a few cocktails at this tropical corner bar in Logan Square—where tequila and mezcal flow like water—you’ll probably need to hit the loo. Little did you know that you’d be traveling back in time to the ’70s. It might take first-time visitors a second to acclimate to the interior, where the walls and ceiling are covered in mirrored disco ball tiles. Shake your groove thing and be sure to wash your hands before returning to the bar for another round.
When chef Carlos Gaytán opened Tzuco in River North, he rolled out a menu that’s deeply rooted in the bold flavors of his hometown of Huitzuco, Mexico—and the décor is just as meaningful. Interior designer Ignacio “Nacho” Cadena supervised the vision, outfitting the space in taupe- and chocolate-colored woods, ceramics and agricultural objects that transport guests across the border. That spirit extends to the W.C., where a handful of private stalls surround a custom-made community sink that was fabricated in Mexico and reminds Gaytán of a fixture in his mother’s home.
You’ll want to take your phone to the bathroom at this South Loop cocktail bar—if only to snap a shameless selfie in the sophisticated space, which is decked out in glossy black tile, metallic wallpaper and a fringed chandelier. When the weekend rolls around, makeup artists set up shop in the women’s powder room, offering guests complimentary touch-ups. Ride that confidence booster straight to the bar and order a round of Twilight cocktails, crafted with butterfly pea flower-infused gin, St-Germain and housemade lavender syrup.
John Manion’s sleek West Loop steakhouse is anchored by a massive flame-filled hearth, where prawns and strips sizzle on the grill. The dining room matches the mood, with dim lighting, a handsome bar and sentimental souvenirs from Manion’s travels. But as soon as you step foot inside the bathroom, you’ll feel like you walked in on a party. The walls are plastered in trippy, tropical wallpaper, and mismatched black-and-white tiles cover the floor. The cherry on top is high-end rose-scented soap and lotion from La Compagnie de Provence.
If you thought that this sky-high lounge on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Center reserved the best views for the dining room, you’d be mistaken. Floor-to-ceiling windows welcome women to the loo (sorry, guys), framing a jaw-droppingly gorgeous vista that includes Lake Michigan, Navy Pier and the Willis Tower. See how many notable buildings you can spot while you wait in line for the toilet, then return to your table and show off the killer photos you snapped over a glass of champagne.