First it was an ornate Victorian toilet block. Then it was a kiosk selling West End theatre tickets. Now it's being reborn as a bougie cafe.
Chances are you've walked past the kiosk plopped on a traffic island just outside the National Portrait Gallery (NPG), dozens of times before now. Up until spring 2021, it was used to peddle theatre tickets — and was originally somewhere for Londoners to spend a penny from Victorian times up until the 1970s.
Last year, the National Portrait Gallery purchased the kiosk as part of its impressive overhaul of the whole establishment, and from the start of November 2023, it'll sell coffee and cakes from the picturesque booth. Opening from 7.30am on weekdays to catch morning trade, the cafe will be takeaway only — although there'll also be a small walk-in shopping space, selling NPG merch — to begin with, things like Christmas cards and stocking fillers ('tis the season, after all).
The Portrait Pavilion has been designed by the Magnum Opus design studio, and is part of the flashy Daisy Green Collection, which also operates Audrey Green and Larry's Bar inside the NPG. You can expect dainty lamington cakes, and flat white with Audrey Hepburn daubed on the side.
The erstwhile pissoir also features a 1,700 square foot space below ground, which the gallery plans to use in the future.
If you've not yet been to the new look National Portrait Gallery, go! It really is a thing of beauty, and much of it is free to visit.