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The lobby restroom at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel was officially dubbed America’s second-best bathroom this afternoon.

Which, on first glance, is a bit surprising: The bathroom is surprisingly simple, and gives off a second-best vibe.

But the sinks feature an entertaining lighting scheme, which contributes to the restroom’s esteem. When the water is cold, the faucet features blue lighting; the lighting is purple when warm, and red when hot. The bathroom’s theme, “movement,” has little to do with toilets, but is represented by a mural of birds, as well as by mirrors, lights, and warm colors. (Here at Washington City Paper, the bathroom theme is “get out as quickly as you can.”)

Now, with the bathroom’s new notoriety, hotel guests head for the bathroom upon arrival not due to urgency, but because they’ve heard about the America’s Best Bathroom contest that awarded the title. Bathrooms tend to stick in people’s minds—especially if the bathroom is clean, according to Denise Durgin, the director of sales and marketing for the hotel.

“It adds to the memorable experience overall,” she says.

Durgin thinks everyone appreciates a nice bathroom. “It doesn’t matter what demographic,” she says.

The restroom contest, put on by the restroom supply and uniform company Cintas Corporation, seeks to promote the “wow factor” among guests in order to motivate hotels and restaurants use bathroom design and hygiene for guest retention, according to Ryan Parker, an account manager at Cintas.

“It really leaves a positive impact on people, and they want to come back,” he says.

While the lights and the movement theme helped, design isn’t all that counts. The judges also put a “heavy emphasis on cleanliness and hygiene.” (Which isn’t entirely surprising for a contest run by a company that sells supplies that help keep bathrooms clean.)

“The property here does a great job embodying that spirit,” he says.

The contest has a “huge following” according to Sabrina Zimring, survey editor for America’s Best Bathroom. This year, over 20,000 people voted for the winner out of 10 contests finalists. America’s Best Bathroom received hundreds of nominations, and a committee narrowed the list down to 10 for the vote.

The bathroom has gotten recent media attention. USA Today‘s Hotel Check-in blog featured the bathroom, leading to its popularity and nomination for the contest. DC-101 DJ Elliot in the Morning made a surprise visit to the hotel, according to Durgin, and enjoyed the experience enough to mention it on his show.

Photo by Caitlin MacNeal