How to Find a Loo in London

Travel Tips — By Erin Gallagher Maury on November 2, 2010 at 11:54 pm

London's loos are well marked just follow the signs, image by victoriapeckham

Before even finding a public bathroom in London, you first must know how to ask. Don’t forget as Winston Churchill once pointed out, England and the US are two nations separated by a common language. In the UK, a bathroom is a room where one bathes and a toilet is a room with, you guessed it, a toilet. So as tough as it may be, when in London make sure to ask, “Where’s the toilet?”. If you can without giggling, asking for the loo is completely acceptable as well and much more fun. Less common yet very polite references are the ladies or the gents while the Queen would only ever use the poshest term lavatory.  Keep in mind WC is often sign posted; however, actually saying WC or water closet is really only used by our European neighbors.

Remaining ever so polite, image by malias

image by Crystian Cruz

Luckily finding a public toilet in London is actually quite simple. Our city has wonderful signage both vintage and modern pointing to all sorts of curious places to relieve yourself. Many Underground stations have public facilities, some with a small charge from ranging from 20p to 50p, an attendant on duty and are surprisingly well stocked with loo paper. Wouldn’t hurt to have several squares stashed away just in case. Transport for London even printed a map marked with their restrooms.

In recent years free standing public toilets have been installed throughout central London. Word of warning – be quick. The seats fold up and the door opens when your designated time is up. Pop up urinals ascend from the ground in Soho on weekend evenings around 8pm and drop back down into hiding before sunrise to deter late night revelers from peeing in public, sort of a 10,000 gallon per year problem.

images by EMaury & urilift

Respectable restrooms can also be found in the following locations, no asking required:

  • pubs (but be sly about it)
  • fast food restaurants
  • hotel lobbies
  • chain coffee shops
  • department stores (check out the swanky bogs in Harrods)
  • museums
  • supermarkets (at the request of London’s mayor)

Bursting and need relief asap? Thanks to technology help is only seconds away. Text TOILET to 80097 while in London’s Burrogh of Westminster and for 25p you are directed to the closest public bathroom. iPhone sat lav apps such as Toiluxe maps out London’s finest thrones for those slightly more fussy.

images by liber and Toiluxe

The famous alien pod toilets in Sketch, image by sara~

Honorable Mentions

Bathroom aficionados must visit restaurant/nightclub Sketch in Mayfair to experience the futuristic pod-like toilets and the subterranean nightclubs Public Life and Ginglik, once Edwardian public bathrooms.

Public Life - loo turned nightclub, image by Ewan-M

Know of any funky toilets worth visiting then please do share below.

Tags: bathroom, bog, gents, ginglik, how to find a bathroom in London, ladies, london loo, loo, open air toilets, pop up toilets, public life, toilet, toilet app, toilet terms, water closet, wc