- An often unpleasant aspect of air travel is dealing with airport restrooms.
- Air travel and airport restrooms are particularly difficult for parents travelling with babies and small children.
- Let's be honest: airports do their best to maintain restroom cleanliness, but in a place like Rome's Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino, where millions of passengers arrive and depart every year, restrooms can be kind of gross.
- But this wasn't the case for me on my last trip through Rome FCO.
- The Roman airport's bathrooms impressed with its stylish decor and ingenious design.
But in our entire existence, I believe we have never reviewed an airport restroom.
That might sound like a gag, but restrooms are an inevitable part of the air-travel experience. More so if you're a parent and have to deal with changing diapers or attending to small children. For years, and through three kids and a lot of flights, I've struggled with changing, with finding a way to safely let my daughter use the facilities, and with simple stuff like getting a 5-year-old to be able to wash his hands.
For my own part, I've seen it all, from truly repulsive men's restrooms to relatively spiffy ones.
Obviously, we can't really review restrooms because we typically post photos with our reviews and nobody would like it very much if we were snapping pictures in semi-private public space. It would be rude and ethically unacceptable.
But I recently found myself, briefly, in a position to check out that rarest of things: a completely empty men's restroom at Rome's Fiumicino airport, on a return trip from Italy to the US.
I quickly seized the opportunity. Here's what I saw.
Rome Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino is the city's biggest airport, gateway to tens of millions of passengers annually. I left from Terminal 3 at FCO for an early evening flight back to the New York area.
At the end of the luxury mall — Rolex, Diesel, Montblanc — I found a clearly marked location for the men's and women's restrooms. OK, some gender stereotypes as far as the identifiers go. But they got the job done.
The organisation of the space was simple and graphic.
The facilities for the wheelchair-bound were to the right ...
... and the facilities for families were to the left.
Walking farther to my right, I quickly realised that I wasn't in my father's airport restroom.
A sort of mellow, green mossy plant thrived beneath a curtain of glass.
The restroom was completely vacant, save for yours truly. The striated walls of brown and tan marble contrasted nicely with the white urinals. I didn't think I was in an airport — I thought I was in a high-end sushi restaurant.
I'll be honest: even though airport restrooms are frequently cleaned, the scene can sometimes be repulsive. Trash cans are typically overflowing. There's you-know-what splattered everywhere. You race to do your business and escape. But not here, in this grotto of Italian tranquillity and tidiness.
I did what I had to do and them discovered the best part of the whole place. You know how men's room wash basins are usually a flooded mess?
Well, not in Rome. Ingenious design has consolidated water, soap, and the hand drier in a recessed, cantilevered section above the basin. Three stages, no slosh. And no paper towels needed. I washed my hands three times, so thrilled was I by the arrangement.
Oh, and it gets better. The same setup, just lower and with easier access, was in place for the children.
The delightful graphics continue. Even a kid could figure it out!
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen: the finest airport restroom I've experienced in my over three decades of travel! Bravo, FCO!
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