Spending a penny

If you come to London for more than a few minutes, the chances are you will want to use the loo, toilet, bathroom, bog, restrooms.

Except we don’t call them ‘bathrooms’. That’s a place where you go for a bath.

Nor is it a ‘restroom’. That’s where you go for a rest.

Toilet, gents or ladies, lavatory, loo… these are acceptable words here. Anything else will get you laughed at. ‘Spending a penny‘ is great. ‘Bog’ is considered to be coarse. ‘Toilet’ is not, actually.

More places are moving from ladies and gents separated to unisex places. If you don’t like that, then too bad.

Our cubicles don’t have gaps at the sides and huge spaces at the bottom. They do provide reasonable privacy.

Public conveniences

There are public toilets in London, but few. Mostly, they cost more than 1p (well, it was old money, 1d). Expect to pay 50p or £1. Covent Garden has some, by the church (do visit the church).

They can be historic places, but mostly they are smelly with dodgy characters and vagrants hanging around. They can be flooded and dirty, despite cleaners being present. We have noticed a slight improvement in recent years.

Many are either blocked up or converted into cocktail bars. The vandalism got too bad.

Railway stations

Most, if not all, London mainline stations have toilets and these nowadays seem to be free. Quality is what you would expect.

Some trains on longer journeys may have a toilet, usually covered in graffiti.

Restaurants, pubs etc

The usual rule for pubs and restaurants is ‘customers only’. You could buy a coke in a pub and then use the loo.

Fast food places and coffee shops sometimes have toilets, but these are usually locked and require a code.


No toilet facilities on tubes, or in most stations in the centre. Some stations on the outskirts, often where mainline trains run too, may have toilets with specified opening times (eg rush hour).


Most of the larger hotels have toilet facilities somewhere near the foyer, However, there has been a definite increase in security at these places. It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Cinemas etc.

Theatres are usually audience only. The same will be true for smaller cinemas.

Some larger venues eg O2 Arena have public spaces and multiple toilets.

Museums and galleries may have free entry and available toilets throughout.

Large stores

The larger stores eg John Lewis, Selfridges will have toilets, especially if they have coffee bars or restaurants. They may not be on every floor.

Smaller shops will not.

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