What a good idea. The Hermitage is beautiful, really beautiful. Here is a picture of the Grand Lobby, which is a few steps up a handsome stairway from the front door.
You don't see rooms like this at the Hilton or the Omni.
We stopped by the front desk to ask about restaurants, and the clerk mentioned the Grille Room, down a short flight.
"And you'll want to see the men's room too," she said, looking at me.
I gaped. I dress like a girl, and while I can be assertive at times, I've never suffered any gender dysmorphia.
"It's art deco, and it's famous," said the clerk. "If there are no men in there, women can go in."
Who could ignore an offer like that? We went downstairs, and the Significant Other checked to see that no guys were doing their business in the men's room.
It's quite something.
As you can see, the room is large and square, definitely not the style today. Its walls are horizontal stripes of shiny green and black tiles, and there is a nicely patterned terrazzo floor. There is even a shoeshine stand with an old-fashioned black telephone on a table alongside. No shoeshine attendant, however.
Women really seem to like the place. Many have posted pictures online of themselves there, sometimes in groups sitting on the toilets. In fact, the chick vote may have helped the spot win a most-beautiful-bathroom-in-the-country award a few years back. (If you think about it, though, this bathroom had double the potential voting audience, which seems a little unfair.)
It is said this bathroom has been featured in several period movies, but I don't believe it. No gaffer could set up effective lighting with that kind of glare off the tile and bare bulbs.
I also don't believe men use it all that often. Who wants to be caught at the urinal when some woman with a cellphone camera could come barging in at any moment?