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The Good Loo Guide - UK
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The Kindersley Centre, Sheepdrove Organic Farm, Lambourn, Berkshire This gorgeous new conference centre and visitor centre is entirely built from sustainable materials, using where possible the resources of the farm. The loos are no exception. The cubicle walls and sinks are made entirely from recycled plastic, the psychedelic hue of the walls is due to the use of old washing-up liquid bottles. Water used in them goes straight out to the farm's reed-bed filter system - creating a pool which, once the water has been cleaned, meets EU bathing standards (owner Peter Kindersley will testify as to the quality of swimming). It then re-enters the ground water on the farm - which is where the centre gets new water from. The place isn't attached to the mains sewer at all. It's not often, even in some of the fine loos listed on these pages, that you can be entertained and help the environment during your visit.
The Hind's Head, Bray, Maidenhead, Berkshire Sister establishment to Heston Blumenthal's multi-Michelin starred Fat Duck, the Hind's Head is also building up a gastronmic reputation and, I have to say, in my opinion has overtaken its pricier neighbour across the road where the loos are concerned. Squeezed imaginatively into the original pub space, these are proper top-restaurant quality - flowers, little towels, designer bits and pieces - in the village pub (OK, albeit a very posh village pub). (The Fat Duck itself did nearly make it but has gone OTT with the flat pointless designer sinks. And when there are only 2 identical cubicles, why label them men & women? If your one's in use, you either ignore the signs or feel aggrieved.)
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The Clifton Sausage, Portland Street, Clifton Village, BristolPale wood, good smells, attractive décor.
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Hartwell House, Hartwell, AylesburyVery nice, but book if you're coming for afternoon tea. They managed to run out of scones when we were staying there. The offer of biscuits is just not the same.
John Lewis, High WycombeIt's a good job these loos are up to the job as you are likely to find yourself in need of them by the time you arrive. So prominent from the M40, John Lewis, like the rest of the retail park, is almost wilfully lacking in signage from local roads. We only arrived after a frustrating trip around the scenic route of the ASDA carpark, where I frankly turned the air blue with cursing. So even if you did as you were told as a child, and went before you got in the car, your well-laid plans may be scuppered. Located in an unpromising spot in what looks like a goods entrance, they're very clean and mercifully quiet and empty after the rest of the store. You may even need them more than once as you will doubtless wish to purchase everything you might feasibly want from John Lewis for the next year on one trip, in order to avoid having to conquer the trackless waste of unnecessary roundabouts and honking ladies in Chelsea tractors that is the land hereabouts.
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The Regal, St Andrew's Street, Cambridge I haven't been in this pub for a couple of years now but when it opened these loos were bright and palatial, rather like this huge Wetherspoon's pub itself, and the best city-centre loos by miles. If there has been any downturn in quality Good Loos would be delighted to hear about it.
Midsummer House, Midsummer Common, Cambridge All soft pink carpets and toiletries, but then they should be, at this price. A haven from the rather snooty service in the restaurant itself. Apparantly just refurbished, so please send any update to email@example.com.
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Da Nello, The Pollet, St Peter Port, Guernsey Guernsey's appeal to the hen & stag circuit means that far too many loos are designed for people who have had 15 pints of Stella. Da Nello, a possibly slightly over-civilised Italian seafood restaurant, is a welcome exception.
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De Havilland Arms, Elvetham Heath, Fleet You wouldn't believe, from the inside, that this was a brand spanking new pub, but it is, and in a brand new village at that. I remember when, if not when it was all fields, then at least when it was a building site. The fake period charm is well done and the loos themselves combine the cleanliness and spaciousness you'd expect (but, it has to be said, you don't always get) of a newly built pub, with comfort and unexceptional but pleasant decor.
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Shockingly, although we live here, there are only a few loos listed and one is for the mirrors. This is partly because we've left out the likes of Gordon Ramsay (very nice, obviously, but unremarkable given the resources, unlike the food which is exceptional by any standards), but mainly because London proprieters are far too sloppy. We could name and shame but generally feel it would be unfair - except for the World's End in Camden Town, where the toilets basically say, "We think our customers are scum." I would say, go try it if you don't believe me, but I would fear for your health.
Royal Exchange (shopping centre), EC3V I'm almost reluctant to include this fine discovery. A free public loo, in a shopping centre, but a very posh shopping centre, with better loos than I've seen in many restaurants.
Normally, the price you have to pay for drinking in a top old-fashioned backstreet boozer is cold toilets, miniscule sink with something unpleasant in the cracks in the basin and antiquarian carpet tiles. Plus they never flush. No more! Drink at the Swan and you can indulge in Regency style luxury more usually seen in "aspirational" flat conversions.
The Crown & Sugarloaf, Bride Street, EC4A very pleasant Sam Smith's pub. Beautiful gin palace decor (although we suspect not original) and very friendly & pleasant staff upstairs. Downstairs, the toilets are done out in an aspirational house renovation style, in a sort of beige marble effect. Clean and more than acceptable. According to the toilet-checking roster, they are available for hire on Saturdays and Sundays, although this possibly relates to the whole pub instead of just the toilets.
The Royal Exchange, Hartland Road, Camden NW1 A smoky, "alternative" backstreet pub in the warren of streets around Kentish Town West station, and as I fought my way through the gloom to the back of the pub I was really not expecting anything special. Imagine my surprise when I beheld a series of glass and seashell mosaics, on a freshly painted and tiled wall in vibrant orange and blue. In terms of actual facilities, not all that great (one of the sinks didn't work, but other than that perfectly functional & acceptable and 100% better than some other Camden pubs I could mention), but as a spectacle, and even better a pleasant surprise, quite marvellous. Many thanks to beerintheevening.com for managing what Yell couldn't & finding the address for me.
The Holly Bush, Hampstead, NW5 I think these have been done up recently, generally as part of a largely successful attempt to make this pub 21st century while retaining its virtually unique, perfectly preserved Victorian interior. Shades of a Harvey Jones kitchen in the fresh cream wooden walls of the loos, and it's a treat to have facilities like this as well as a CAMRA Heritage Pub listing. Probably the best pub loos in Hampstead.
Peter Jones, Sloane Square SW1 Spacious, with calming lilac walls, trendy sinks that actually do their job, and quite shockingly in SW1 people that were actually quite polite and considerate as I entered (currently on my crutches). Obviously it has a positive effect on the Belgravia character so that must be a good thing.
Lindsay House, Romilly St, Soho, W1Ladies, if you are expecting a traumatic meeting with your partner, which may end in tears, get him to take you here for the occasion. Firstly, you will get an excellent meal which will cause him sufficient pain in his wallet to give you a modicum of revenge. Secondly, they thoughtfully provide cotton wool pads in the loos, for tidying up running mascara and applying cooling water to puffy eyes.
Kettners, Romilly St, Soho, W1You're spolit for choice in Romilly St it seems. Kettners is an odd place - a champagne bar attached to an upmarket Pizza Express. The loos are definitely a cut above the average Pizza Express, a little Art Nouveau (I think) with curved mirrored screens, flowers, seating, etc. The only let down is the scratty little guest soap - come on, selling this much champagne you can surely run to something a bit more sweet-smelling and hygenic.
Waterstones, Piccadilly, W1As with the rest of the shop, the loos retain the 1930s styling of the old Simpsons in the Strand. Along with not only a huge book selection, but also a fab cocktail bar, they make Waterstones the top place to kill a spare half-hour in central London (when the NPG's shut anyway). Sometimes you manage to come out without spending any money, but...
The Connaught, Carlos Place, W1 (NB This loo has lost its Good Loo Guide ranking, but I feel I should explain why) After praising these loos on this site, not only for their excellent quality but also happily lacking in a lavatory attendant, what did I find on my recent visit but a lady virtually inserting herself between me and the taps in order to turn them on for me. I'm sorry but how many people actually appreciate this service? Why do hotels feel that, on top of charging you to stay there, eat in the restaurant, buy drinks or whatever, they should provide this totally unnecessary service in order to make you pay again for what is only the natural result of the eating, drinking etc? If any of you actually finds turning on taps and operating the soap dispenser so trying you are happy to pay for it, then good luck to you. Lovely though Angela Hartnett's restaurant here is, I shall be sticking to Gordon Ramsay in Royal Hospital Road when I want to splash out in future. The waiting staff are a bit over keen to point out the location of the loos to you, but at least they don't follow you in.
La Galette, Paddington St, W1 Authentic (in a good way) creperie not far from Baker St, thankfully doesn't stretch its Frenchness as far as the worst extremes of French loos (I'm still suffering from an 80s service station - see the entry for Hotel Sofokles, Pelion, Greece on the Europe page, for more gory details). In fact I'd forgotten how much I liked them until I visited last week; black slate flooring, very large rooms, a cute his'n'hers (Complete with different coloured soap dispensers!) sink arrangement in the shared washing area.
The Porterhouse, Maiden Lane, Covent Garden WC2 The toilets here are very clean, possibly because they are so hard to find. However, they have made not far from as much effort with these as they have with the rest of the pub. Loads of exposed pipes and nineteenforties style decor. One or two loose tiles though suggest that it may be on the way downhill. Good for the moment though.
The National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, WC2H Not necessarily the greatest loos in the world, but free to access, clean, and just off Trafalgar Square. And last time I went there was a picture of Iwan Thomas on the way in. What more could one ask for?
La Trompette, Devonshire Road, Chiswick W4 Everything about La Trompette is perfect, including the loos (Could do with more of them, though). There's always a flower arrangement in the ladies and last time I went in the whole place smelled of hyacinths. Which was nice.
Gilbey's Restaurant, The Grove, Ealing W5 For the left-hand ladies, which has an interesting mirror configuration which allows you to see yourself as you really are.Gilbey's has sadly now shut. We will be keeping an eye out for whatever replaces it & hope to report on the state of the facilities shortly.
The Dolphin, Lower Boston Road, Hanwell W7 I rather like the Victorian-asylum look of these green tiled loos. I don't think it's deliberate so to speak - that's just how they are. While you're in the area, there's a real Victorian asylum just around the corner in the form of St Bernard's Hospital (hidden behind the 60s(?) monolith of Ealing Hospital).
Maxim's, Northfields Avenue, West Ealing W13 Very nice, new and clean, the brown marbled tiles make it feel like a West Ealing version of the Connaught (honest). Don't let the Happy Shopper handwash worry you. It's a Chinese restaurant by the way.
The Castlebar (formerly Coach & Horses), Uxbridge Road, West Ealing W13 We were trapped in this pub last night in a freak June hailstorm (hailstones half an inch across - I kid you not - even Britain's hail capital, Cambridge (claims to be drier than Beirut. Don't believe it) has never produced anything like this) so just as well the loos were good. Narrowness of cubicles more than made up for by the original touch of having piped comedy instead of music. You may also be interested to know that the Adnam's beer has survived the refurbishment, and there's proper ramp access to the pub.
The Sorting Office, London Road, Twickenham Magnificent red-tiled rooms, complete with leather banquette, full-length mirrors and seating, immaculately clean and a real delight. Another triumph from the Wetherspoons group.
McClements, Whitton Road, Twickenham You'll think you're walking into the wine cellar - but persevere. Wander past the bottles & you'll find these loos very nice & spacious (one of the things you are paying for that distinguishes this from its cheaper sister restaurant Ma Cuisine a couple of doors down, which has a peculiarly cramped lavatory space). They've now had a refurbishment which means that this review has with hindsight a prophetic ring to it - they have now converted a room by the corridor into a (ground floor) wine cellar, with a glass wall so you can have a good nose at it on the way to the loo. You can book it as a private room, if you don't mind everyone staring at you. This has now rebranded as Ma Cuisine Brasserie & we don't know yet what's happened to the loos. We will update.
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Cock & Hoop, High Pavement, Nottingham An extremely civilised small pub. Quiet clientele, nice food (at least it looked that way - we didn't try it) and fine beer. Toilets: clean, new, smart; red paint, wood and tile and possibly literally clean enough to eat your dinner off (they don't make you, though).
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Public Toilets, High Street, Burford These may be standard-issue Oxfordshire County Council stainless steel public loos, but they are quite the nicest I have ever visited. (And I've visited quite a few).
The Shepherd's Crook, Crowell A proper country pub, quite literally unreconstructed. Fine sausage and mash and real ale. Not always a recipe for great loos. Be not afeared. Cosy, interesting map on the wall, clean and charming. Slightly odd prints by the basins though.
Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons, Great MIlton Yes, I know they jolly well should be nice at that price, but I had to mention the joy of waving regally at my friends playing croquet on the lawn below.
Public Toilets, Market Street, Oxford Yes, not one but two Oxfordshire public toilets now make the list! I entered the Market Street facilities with some tredipation, only braving them out of desperation (it was before opening time). What a pleasant surprise. Again, the stainless steel seat much in evidence, but really quite remarkably clean and pleasant by market public loo standards. If the council keeps applying these high standards to its public loos, people will be leaving the dreary pub facilities behind to use these instead.
The White House, Botley Road (just beyond station), Oxford For a beautiful city, Oxford has far too many poky dirty loos for my liking (public toilets now improving - see above - but many big profitable pubs still frankly shocking). This excellent bar/restaurant provides fresh, pleasant facilities, although I found the antiseptic seat wiping device a little scary.
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Bath - Fishworks, Green Street (previously Green St Cafe I believe) Up a staircase but that's a bit difficult to avoid given the building's layout. Included for the striking blue and black colour scheme and also the generous proportions (though I suspect this is another unwonted effect of the layout).
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Beccles - The Old Swan Restaurant The loos seem to be halfway through renovation, so count this recommendation as applying to the gents for now, which is spanking new with automatic everything. The ladies, though shabby, is still clean and a generous size, so overall, recommended.
Orford - The Crown & Castle/Trinity Restaurant Mixed reports on the much-anticipated refurbishment. The men's generally a success, but we thought the ladies was a little cramped and guilty of putting style over substance. Which is a great shame as everything else here lives up to its billing. Why not book a room instead? The bathrooms, despite having taps that turn the wrong way (there is definitely a right and wrong where taps are concerned), do have some particularly fabulous soap products.
Southwold - Sutherland House The Sutherland House loos have alway been quite pleasant with the disadvantage that you have to walk through the kitchen and out into the garden to get to them. The construction of a new passage means they are now fully accessible without going outside, though you'll still need to skirt through the kitchen. Once you get there, you'll now find them very pleasant, with the added bonus of Molton Brown toiletries, which is always a good thing. Despite the lavatory related improvements, Sutherland House has now shut.
Snape - The Crown Nothing special, but perfectly usable, the Crown really scores with the Simon Drew pictures on the way (Newts In White Satin has been ousted as favourite by what we think is a recent arrival - the godlike Vivian Stanshall's quote "If I had all the money I've spent on drink, I'd spend it all on drink". Trust me, the way they serve Adnams in this place, you would). You might be taken by the old-fashioned paper towel dispenser, though. Go also for the really fantastic cellarmanship and great food (there's a picture of Rick Stein by the bar). There's three lovely rooms to stay in if you don't want to drive home.
Wingfield (near Eye) - The De La Pole Arms This huge pub/bar/restaurant is just beautiful, set in a weepingly pretty village (which seems to consist entirely of church, college, castle and this pub). The De La Pole Arms is all open beams (real ones), wooden settles and rather disturbing stuffed animals. There is nothing too old fashioned about the loos though, which are clean and bright, and a good size. The latch-style door fittings on the cubicles do lock, honest - there's a little doo-dah you have to flip over.
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Harome - The Star Britain's only Michelin Starred pub lives up to its reputation in all ways. Fine food, fine lavatories, despite the somewhat disturbing horse illustrations en route into the loos on the pub side of the building. Don't worry if your friends take slightly longer than expected as they have stuck all the reviews the restaurant has ever had up in the washing areas so they may just be reading. The article in the gents on the restaurant side seems to be the most entertaining.
Harrogate - Betty's, Parliament Street Betty's massive wood-panelled facilities are excellent, and also have a huge baby-changing area, which whilst not of interest to me personally is I understand important to many of you. The cubicles are enormous and there is a period fireplace more appropriate in a desirable Victorian cottage in Baron's Court.
Masham - Black Sheep Brewery Vistor Centre Visitors from abroad, especially non-English speaking ones, may be confused by the sheep related nomenclature on the signs. If in doubt, Ewes is Ladies and Tups is Gents. Fortunately the sheep illustrations are fairly clear as to which is which. Really spacious, and what's more a lovely view as you're washing your hands in the Ladies. I can also recommend the brewery tour and of course the fine Black Sheep Bitter.
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