Did you know the UK has an annual Loo of the Year Awards? Well, you do now. It seems we all like a cool loo, and London’s bars and restaurants are poised to serve you every need… The Resident visits the quirkiest facilities in the capital, a #loowithaview or two, plus a few public loos repurposed into chic bars and gallery spaces
1 Nopi, Soho
We all know a well positioned mirror can make a small space seem far greater but Yotam Ottolenghi has taken this to the extreme in Noti’s tiny toilets. The loos have been transformed into a hall of mirrors, all set at different angles, making for a slightly confusing bathroom visit. Fortunately, after a few souls got lost, they included an arrow to help people escape so it shouldn’t take too long to get back to the delightful food awaiting you back at your table.
21-22 Warwick Street, Soho, London W1B 5NE; ottolenghi.co.uk
2 Aqua at The Shard, London Bridge
Thirty-one floors up The Shard, Aqua’s urinals could well have the best view from a toilet in Europe. But this isn’t for the faint hearted or those who get vertigo as the floor to ceiling windows can make you dizzy. Sadly, the same impressive views can’t be found in the ladies’ room here, but don’t feel disheartened gals, just head to Hutong, where you’ll get a great view of the new London Bridge Station (see below).
The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London Bridge SE1 9RY; the-shard.com
3 Hutong at The Shard, London Bridge
Hutong is an impressive restaurant. Dark and moody with lanterns, heavy wooden doors and even an indoor tree on which to hang more lanterns and messages of good luck, make this a very atmospheric place to dine indeed. Perfect for secret rendezvous or raucous catch-ups with friends alike. Request a table by the window and drink in the views as the sun sets over London, but don’t miss out on a trip to the loo. A wall of red Chinese lanterns will guide you there, and through the heavy wooden door you’ll be greeted by this spectacular view of the new London Bridge Station…
Level 33 The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London Bridge SE1 9RY; 020 3011 1257; hutong.co.uk
4 Cellar Door, Aldwych
This quirky little bar smashes out some gorgeously decadent cocktails while entertaining guests with some of London’s most quirky shows. But It’s not just the Aldwych location of this loo that we like. It’s the loos inside the loo that grabs even more attention. These cubicles remain clear until they’re locked, then as if by magic, the glass frosts over, giving you privacy. After a few drinks, spending some quality time in the loos locking and unlocking the door is far more fun than it ought to be…
Zero Aldwych, London WC2D 7DN; cellardoor.biz
5 Sketch, Mayfair
Sketch knows how to do quirky. And this is taken above and beyond with their bizarre egg-shaped loos. The 18th century venue has been given a futuristic makeover where guests are invited to step into their own personal pod to have a relaxing wee. Birdsongs play within the pristine white space to help calm you while you sit. But it’s perhaps less calming for those who don’t like small spaces…
9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG; sketch.london
6 Artslav, Kennington Cross
Artslav is a one of a kind. This Victorian public lavatory was abandoned in the 1980’s and has most recently become one of London’s most alternative gallery spaces with ever-changing artwork donning the walls above the urinals and basins. But, sadly, this volunteer-run space is under threat as the council continues to raise the rent to gentrifying proportions. It seems that local councils have gotten wind of these new revenue makers and are looking to capitalise.
180 Kennington Lane, London SE11 4UZ; artslav.com
7 Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town, Spitalfields
This speakeasy is hidden away behind the door of a Smeg fridge in The Breakfast Club diner. Open the doors and walk down within the fridge to find this whacky bar with even whackier toilets decorated in My Little Pony wallpaper. You’ll feel like a kid, discovering a new underground world.
12-16 Artillery Lane, Spitalfields London E1 7LS; themayorofscaredycattown.com
A photo posted by Daniel Tang (@tangabouttown) on Dec 1, 2013 at 8:50am PST
8 WC Clapham
Locals Andy Bell and Jayke Mangion beat 450 other applicants in a bid to take over this Edwardian loo beneath Clapham Common Tube station. It’s apart of a long-term project to regenerate the area where even the derelict public bathrooms get a makeover. The wine and charcuterie bar features original mosaic floors, wall tiles and tables made from 100-year-old cubicle doors and, in the warmer months, has a seating area above ground in the picket-fenced area outside the station.
Clapham Common South Side, London SW4 7AA; wcclapham.co.uk
9 The Bonneville, Clapton
The restaurant is all Parisian opulence but the toilets are straight from Jack the Ripper’s London thanks to the tavern’s rich history. A number of Jack the Ripper’s victims used to work in the old bar before they met their untimely demise. The loos have been designed to echo this creepy history, reached via a dark, smokey, dungeon-esque tunnel dotted with animal skulls and furnished with an old prison-cell door from Clerkenwell prison.
43 Lower Clapton Road, London E5 0NS; thebonneville.co.uk
10 Crazy Bear, Fitzrovia
The toilets in the glamorous chain of Thai restaurants and cocktail bars are some of London’s most disorientating spaces. You press a mirror to enter and, once inside, find every other surface to be covered in reflective materials making it seem like you’re peeing into infinity. But prepare to see yourself from every possible angle – It’s a little Trinny and Susanna.
26-28 Whitfield Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2RG; crazybeargroup.co.uk
11 Claridge’s, Mayfair
Moving on from outdoor loos and over to more luxurious ones, the best loo in a London hotel has to be ladies bathroom at Claridge’s bar and restaurant. Steeped in history, the elegant ladies’ room not only has vanity areas with chairs and mirrors, but also a coat check and attendant. It’s how every bathroom experience should be.
Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR; claridges.co.uk
12 Sarastro, Covent Garden
One of London’s most eccentric dining rooms continues its Turkish theme right through to the loos where the walls showcase some rather well-equipped men and voluptuous ladies in rather compromising positions. Every trip results in another cheeky discover that fuels a fresh round of giggles at the dinner table. Best not take your Nanna to this one, or at least make sure she leaves her glasses behind.
126 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5SU; sarastro-restaurant.com
A photo posted by Franklin Kush (Frankie) (@franklythetraveller) on Nov 8, 2016 at 8:11am PST
13 The Hunter S, Dalston
These fun loos are only really for the gents out there but I’m sure the ladies can sneak in to take a peak – of the urinal that is. They are shaped as women’s lips with bright red lipstick to create a fun and quirky space. The pictures above are somewhat fruity, too. But, you know, it’s art, so it’s ok!
194 Southgate Road, Dalston, London N1 3HT; thehunter-s.co.uk
14 Ladies and Gentlemen, Kentish Town
Another bar in a toilet (London sure does know how to make the best of tiny, unused spaces). Up in Kentish Town, the Ladies and Gentlemen bar is housed in a former public loo. The elaborate historic ironwork holds up a sign alerting guests to its subterranean presence, and its ever-changing message board shows the extent to which the bar has embraced its rather unconventional identity.
2 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, London NW5 1NR; ladiesandgents.co
15 Maggie’s, Chelsea
Maggie’s is a place to show off shoulder pads and blow waved hair (and that’s just the boys). This club is a shrine to the 80s in general and Margaret Thatcher in particular. head to the lavatory where you’ll find Maggie’s most famous speeches played on a loop. Sit down in the loos and be inspired by Thatcher’s bellowing voice.
329 Fulham Road, Chelsea, London SW10 9QL; maggies-club.com
16 The Attendant, Fitzrovia
This quirky coffee bar is hidden within a 19th Century gents’ toilet. There isn’t an abundance of space but it’s well worth squeezing in, just to experience some good coffee in a fun location. The barista is obsessively dedicated to his craft with every coffee coming out perfectly measured. So take a seat at the urinals and enjoy your lunch break coffee and toastie in this subterranean gem.
27A Foley Street, London W1W 6DY; the-attendant.com
17 Albert’s, South Kensington
Albert’s is a place for Kensington & Chelsea locals to kick back in. ‘We wanted something here. A lot of people don’t like trekking to Mayfair anymore,’ says co-founder Carlo Carello. ‘I wanted somewhere in the vicinity of South Kensington, I was brought up down the road, so I know the area well.’ To be a part of Albert’s crowd, you will need to pay a £250 joining fee and a £500 annual subscription. ‘The reason we charge membership is so we can offer a much more personal service. The attention to detail is key. Compared to other clubs we have three times as many staff. We will be the first member’s club to have a Rolls Royce chauffeur driven service.’ They also have pretty fly loos…
92b Old Brompton Road SW7 3LQ; 020 7225 1899; albertsclub.com
18 The French House, East Dulwich & Crystal Palace
Audrey O’Neill is proud of her Alsacian roots and the food and drink menu at The French House – which opened in East Dulwich in June 2014 and in Crystal Palace in summer 2016 – reflects this with various Alsacian specialities like tartes flambées. The restaurant concept is styled around the French music era of the 60s-70s, Yé-Yé, a colourful, camp mod-esque period famous for such singers like Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin – who you’ll find plastered all over the toilet walls to create the most inspirational decoupage you’ve ever seen. Pass the eyeliner…
52 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich SE22 8HJ; 020 3441 2090 & 72 Westow Hill, Crystal Hill SE19 1SB; 020 8616 3633; thefrenchhouse.co