Public toilets are having a renaissance period right now, in London and around the globe.
Many former toilets have fallen into disuse and some bright young sparks are finding innovative new uses for them.
Just why they are no longer being used for their intended purpose is probably an interesting sociological question. We know that public phone boxes are outmoded because we all have mobile phones. But surely we aren’t all carrying mobile toilets! Or is that there are so many unused phone boxes that they are now used as toilets?
I often feature the lively Manchester street art that decorates the entrances to former public toilets in Manchester’s Northern Quarter. It is a fun way to add colour to the area and brighten up otherwise ugly structures. But it doesn’t make use of the actual toilet space underground.
Elsewhere, there have been a number of projects to turn abandoned conveniences into convenient cafes, bars and restaurants. My research suggests that the trigger of this trend was the Marton Restaurant in Taipei, now a whole toilet chain called Modern Toilet Restaurant. I’m not clear how many make use of toilet premises, they seem more fixated on a scatological theme, with serving dishes shaped like toilets and chocolate ice cream that resembles …..
Much more tasteful, is the excellent Attendant Cafe in London, where an underground public toilet has been turned into a cosy cafe, serving top quality coffee and food. You can even book the place for private events. Here the theming is thankfully restricted to the furnishings, not the food!
Other examples in London include the Cellar Door cocktail bar in Aldwych, The Convenience cafe and bar in Hackney and Michelin star restaurant Story near Tower Bridge.
If you came to this post to find a functioning toilet, I can help you there too.
For those wanting to spend a penny but not having any, there’s a useful map of free toilets around London over here. If you’re reallly into the subject, perhaps you prefer a toilet tour? In which case, the people at London Loo Tours are available at your convenience – choose your time and hand over your pennies.
If it’s a toilet with a view that you want, I have written before about the loos with a view in Botswana. If you are in London, then you should make a visit to Aqua on the 31st floor of the Shard. Of course, it’s not just the toilet area that has views, the bar and restaurant do too.
Modern Toilet chain
The Attendant, 27a Foley Street, W1W 6DY
Cellar Door, Zero Aldwych, WC2E 7DN
The Convenience, Brooksby’s Walk, E9 6DA
Restaurant Story, 199 Tooley Street, SE1 2JX
London Loo Tours, adult £12 for a 90 minute guided tour