Travelers in search of clean and accessible public restrooms now can visit Web sites for directions, advice and ratings. Two Web sites -- thebathroomdiaries.com and besttoilets.com -- provide reviews of bathrooms in restaurants, parks, department stores and other locations in various towns and cities.
At thebathroomdiaries.com, visitors can learn about restrooms in 36 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and in 74 countries, ranging from Argentina to Zimbabwe.
"When nature calls, even intrepid travelers prefer to make a comfortable reply," the site says. Visitors may choose to search for a clean bathroom, add a bathroom or read a travel essay at this site.
A click on Illinois reveals 13 options including major cities and suburbs. Reviewers check off the characteristics that describe a given restroom from the following choices: clean, safe, all access, changing table, special, shower, celebrities. In addition, they are invited to include comments.
For example, one reviewer posted a description of the restrooms in a public park in Illinois saying they always smell like the sewer, toilet paper is everywhere except on the dispenser, the water is freezing and there is no soap, no towels or dryer.
At besttoilets.com, bathrooms in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto and Washington D.C. are rated with from one to four stars. Descriptions include directions to the facility and information about its cleanliness and accessibility. To rate four stars a restroom should have soft paper towels and good toilet paper.
This Web site offers an additional service: free e-cards featuring a choice of 15 color photos of bathrooms, plumbing fixtures or restroom signs or the visitor's own photo.
YadaYada, an integrated wireless Internet service provider and personalized mobile Web portal for handheld Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs) offers Bathroom Finder to its subscribers with the help of besttoilets.com. Users select the word "Toilets" from YadaYada's Wireless Web Guide to access information.