Toilets of London competition
Britain’s railway operator, Network Rail, has some very good news for April 2019 and onwards: toilet charges have been discontinued in every Network Rail train station, which includes London travel hubs Charing Cross, Clapham Junction, Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Paddington, Victoria and Waterloo. This is great news for London tourists, so we’ve celebrated by compiling a comprehensive guide to the loos of London, including a fun competition – find out how you could win at the end of this feature.
London loo quiz (answers near the bottom)
1. Until the end of the 19th century, London’s lavatorial system was a mess. What was the name of the man who invented the modern flushing loo, which transformed our habits in a way that is unchanged to this day?
2. Why do elderly Londoners still say ‘I need to spend a penny’ when they need the lavatory?
3. Where can you find a Roman bath and lavatory in London?
Where to find convenient London toilets
There are not many nice public toilets in modern London, but there are many, many nice hotels. If you walk in confidently, staff will assume that you’re staying there and you’ll avoid any fuss. Trust us: we do this all the time. Communal hotel loos are usually downstairs, beyond reception – and a nice bonus is that they are almost always beautiful.
London’s coolest loos
We love each of these incredible London toilets for very different reasons – definitely visit them if you can!
This multi-roomed food and drink fantasy land has toilets on the ground floor that are egg-shaped, individual pods. It’s like finding a room of alien incubators.
9 Conduit St, W1S 2XG | 020 7659 4500 | www.sketch.london
This restaurant has restrooms that are totally clad in mirrors, so it’s incredibly difficult to find your way out again. The walls are also positioned at lots of different angles, making this bathroom a beautifully bewildering sight to behold.
21-22 Warwick St, W1B 5NE | 020 7494 9584
The Top of the Shard, London Bridge
South of the Thames and 244m (800ft) above the ground, these loos are some of the highest in the city and each one has an incredible view to admire.
Joiner St, SE1 9QU | 0844 499 7111
The Knights Templar, Chancery Lane
This beautiful pub in the City of London is named after an ancient order of warrior monks and has an absolutely massive ladies’ loo. There are even sofas in there!
95 Chancery Lane, off Carey St, WC2A 1DT | 020 7831 2660 | www.jdwetherspoon.com
London’s best converted toilets
Each of these long-abandoned public loos has been converted into something much more interesting…
Ladies & Gentlemen, Camden
This cosy underground cocktail bar opened at the beginning of 2019 and specialises in vintage and aged spirits – we really rate the drinks here (scroll to the bottom to watch our video of the bar). If you decide to visit, there’s a really fun pizza place nearby that you could visit before or after – read our review of Lost Boys Pizza here.
Corner of Camden Rd & Royal College St, NW1 0TA | 0207 813 1308 | www.ladiesandgents.co
Bermondsey Arts Cocktail Club, Borough
This water-closet-turned-cocktail-capsule is also underground. Expect high-quality drinks and live jazz every Wednesday. 102a Tower Bridge Rd, SE1 4TP | 020 7237 9552 | www.bermondseyartsclub.co.uk
This former Victorian toilet has beautiful black ironwork above ground and house-blended espresso below ground. It closes at 5pm every day, so it’s a good place for lunch – if you can digest the thought of eating alongside a row of original porcelain urinals.
27a Foley St, W1W 6DY | 020 7580 3413 | www.the-attendant.com
London Loo Quiz answers
1. Thomas Crapper, who walked from York to London to set up his business. His invention revolutionised waste disposal and he grew rich. He opened a huge shop on Chelsea's King’s Road and the family business was continued by his descendants well into the 20th century. Before Crapper, London lavatories relied on turning a simple tap on to flush the loo, but the problem with this system was that people forgot to turn the tap off and water was left running constantly. The result was a chronic loss of pressure in London’s water system and badly flushing loos.
2. Until the 1960s London was famous for its number of public lavatories. Many were highly decorative, elaborate, high-ceilinged affairs, but they all had one thing in common: they charged one penny to anyone who needed to use them.
3. Where Queen Victoria Street meets the old Huggin Hill, there is a tiny green space known as Cleary Gardens (EC4V 2AR). Here there is an old brick wall with stone foundations that seem far older. This peaceful corner has never been built on because it is the site of a Roman bath house and the frigidarium and tepidarium and other rooms remain to be excavated under the nearby houses. Part of the Roman wall can still be seen below the Victorian wall and the spring that once served the bath house bubbled forth until fairly recently.
Our London Loo Quiz was written by Tom Quinn, author of The Strangest London Quiz Book. For a chance to win one of three copies of this incredibly weird (but also incredibly interesting) new book, just like and follow us on Facebook @LondonPlannerMag, or follow us on Instagram @LondonPlanner or Twitter @LondonPlanner, then tell us what you’re up to in London. Good luck!
If you can’t wait to take a picture in the Sketch loos, you should watch our video guide to London’s best photo spots
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