Where Is London's Most Expensive Public Toilet?

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 12 months ago
Where Is London's Most Expensive Public Toilet?
Photo: Jon Spence

Are London’s toilets taking the pee? Needing a wee while roaming the city streets has cost Londoners for over a century and a half; the first coin-operated toilet locks were at a convenience outside the Royal Exchange in the 1850s, costing one penny — hence, of course, 'spend a penny'. Now it can cost a lot more to relieve yourself in one of London's public toilets*.

In the days of the old Trocadero, long since gone, one Team Londonist member found herself spending exactly 100 pennies in order to use the facilities. We've also heard of toilets at Notting Hill Carnival costing £2 a trip, but as these are temporary facilities, we'll let that one go. Generally fees aren't quite such a rip-off, although an increasing number of places seem to be slapping on a fee.

Royal Parks introduced a charge of 20p for most of the toilets in its parks in 2014.

National Rail station charges vary  massively — Victoria, Charing Cross and Cannon Street are free, while and Liverpool Street station is 30p. Is it fair that this is the case?

30p at Liverpool Street Station

Where does the money go?

Royal Parks states that the charges "will prevent closures and help fund the £1.5 million cleaning and maintenance bill" and the Greater London Authority claims that the recent introduction of 20p charges to the Trafalgar Square toilets will go towards running costs. Fair enough, we reckon.

What are the options?

Well, most of the time it's a case of pay up or cross your legs. But you might be lucky enough to be in a London borough which operates a Community Toilet Scheme. This allows the public to use the toilet facilities in registered pubs, shops, bars and cafes with no obligation to buy anything from the business. The council pays the business a certain amount to cover costs for their involvement in the scheme.

Richmond began the first scheme in 2005, and has since been joined by Bromley, City of London, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Lambeth, Merton, Waltham Forest and Wandsworth, among others. Check your borough or town council website to see whether there's a scheme near you.

Otherwise, The Great British Public Toilet Map will guide you to your nearest facility (Community Toilet Scheme Facilities are marked on here too).

If it's something you feel that strongly about, how about joining the British Toilet Association, which campaigns for better public toilets across the country.

*We use the phrase public toilets to cover toilets in locations such as railway and tube stations, arcades and shopping centres, although technically they're not public.

What are your thoughts on the charges for using public toilets? Necessary? Extortionate? Know of any more expensive toilets in London? Let us know in the comments below.

Last Updated 12 December 2016

Geoff Marshall

The toilets at Piccadilly Circus tube station cost 50p! I forsee the day soon that spending a penny will really be spending a pound.

Spielo

One area that really need better facilities is the Thames Path. I go running along the river every weekend and there are no free toilets and no water fountains. The pricing for the toilets fluctuates based on how close you are to a major tourist attraction. The one by the Tower of London is 50p whereas others are 30p. I just go in a Starbucks. Other cities put water fountains along popular running routes like this, and so should London.

Loo

My favourite related factoid is that King's Cross toilets are 30p but walk across the street to St Pancras and they're free.

National Gallery might see increased traffic at their toilets from the more savvy Trafalgar Square visitors...

Linda Cairns

I have just recently returned from holidaying in the States. All public toilets are free, including those in the front garden of The White House, although these were the least well maintained.

Come on London and the rest of the UK, you are always wanting to bring over trends and foods, etc from the USA so why not reintroduce free public toilets and perhaps employ real people to attend them, thus reducing unemployment and servicing the community.

hostile_17

I wouldn't mind so much if they were actually clean as a result. But Euston Station and those ones in the heart of Covent Garden... What am I paying for? 30p for Network Rail toilets is not insignificant yet they are filthy.

JohnnyFox

I was quite horrified in Paternoster Square recently to hear a French schoolteacher told it would cost £19 for his troupe of 38 kids to use the facilities. Suddenly, lots of them didn't 'need' to go. But the 'spend a penny' coin-operated toilet lock was introduced in 1890 and according to the Bank of England inflation calculator, that 1d converts to 48p in 2015.

Francesca Fenn

As a London Guidebook writer, I feel embarrassed and ashamed that The City, one of the richest places in the whole world, imposes an inhospitable and greedy 50p charge for visitors to use the public loos. If ever a place could afford to pay for this facility, it is The City of London. Our books (Step Outside Guides) highlight all the free toilets on our routes, but we're having to edit some of them out. Come on London - you can do better than this!

Matt

Charging for a public toilet is literally taking the piss.

Ask in any pub nicely and despite signs to the contrary, you'd mostly be pointed in the direction of a free pee. I heard of someones retort to 'customers use only' as 'I had a pint here last week / month etc', nice way of pointing out the absurdity.

Say thanks on the way out so the next person doesn't get a 'Sorry, no'.

Joshua Sammons

When I go to Liverpool Street and I never pay as I turn the turnstile like i was exiting then I squeeze through, you have to be quite quick.

Robert Coates

As others have commented, St. Pancras loos are free. As are London Bridge. (Oslo Central station charges kr20, almost £2!)
The worst loos I have found are on Victoria Embankment by Embankment station. They swallow up your cash and then the gates don't open.