London Toilets You Can Drink In

Harry Rosehill
By Harry Rosehill Last edited 56 months ago

Last Updated 25 October 2019

London Toilets You Can Drink In
Illustration by Janina Schroeter for our book Londonist Drinks.

Do you ever get to the toilet and think: this'd be so much better if it had some booze in it. Nope? Never? Really? Well, plenty of other people do because London is replete with (mostly former) loos you can drink in. Peruse the best... they're all at your convenience.

WC, Clapham

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WC stands for wine and charcuterie. Wait, that's not right. WC stands for water closet. Or is it both? See what they did there? It sits directly beneath Clapham Common tube station — just think, you could be tucking into a stunning meat and cheeseboard with a glass of Merlot in one hand, in the very spot someone was relieving themselves 30 years ago. You can do more than just eat and drink in these former loos. There's also live music to enjoy on Monday and Sunday nights, mostly of the singer-songwriter variety. Just remember, here, all songs are toilet-break songs.

WC, Clapham Common South Side, SW4 7AA

The High Cross, Tottenham

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Doors open today at 5pm, pop by for a pint and a home-made sausage roll! We’ll be open ALL bank holiday weekend! Looking forward to seeing you. #Tottenham #highcross #bankholidayweekend #thursdaybeers #sausagerolls

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For whatever reason, most former toilets opt for a bar set-up. Maybe they feel that punters need high end cocktails to entice them into somewhere people used to spend a penny. The High Cross in Tottenham takes a different approach, and is a pub instead. This is welcome news for a huge area that's severely lacking in proper boozers, so if you're looking to sup a pint in a cosy confine — with beautiful mock Tudor frontage outside — this is the spot. Also, they serve supreme Scotch eggs.

The High Cross, 350 High Road, Tottenham, N17 9HT

Ladies and Gentlemen, Kentish Town

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Its name is a classy way to let people know that this bar is a former relief spot — Ladies and Gentleman does everything with a touch of humour and style. That includes the regularly changing puntastic sign at street level, which alerts passers-by to the bar's existence. And the cocktail names — like Two Grapes, One Shrub and a Cactus. Lest we forget, the tiles on the wall behind the drinks at the bar are bathroom classics. Speaking of drinks, that's the number one reason to visit. This place has booze that's varied and not too costly.

Ladies and Gentlemen, 2 Highgate Road, Kentish Town, NW5 1QU

Restaurant Story, London Bridge

Not every former toilet wears its credentials on its sleeve. Case in point, Restaurant Story, which pays little homage to its Victoria toilet block past. The Michelin-starred dining experience comes from the mind of one of Britain's most exciting chefs, Tom Sellers. Drinks wise, you don't get much of a say here. It's all decided by a sommelier who picks a selection of drinks — wines or cocktails — to accompany whatever tasting menu you're having. The focus on stories is a lovely touch — diners are asked to bring along a book to leave on their ever-filling bookshelves.

Restaurant Story, 199 Tooley Street, SE1 2JX

The Attendant, Fitzrovia

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This public convenience served people from 1890 until the 1960s, when the site was left dormant for 50 years. Then The Attendant moved in, a delightful cafe serving your coffee and brunching needs (although alas, no booze). Instead The Attendant is more wellness focused: think matcha and chai lattes. But whatever you're drinking, be sure to have it at the old urinals, now tastefully converted into tables. Also as the whole toilet is now a cafe, it actually has no toilet — there isn't room. So it's probably a good thing that The Attendant doesn't serve any booze.

The Attendant, 27a Foley Street, W1W 6DY

CellarDoor, Aldwych

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This was once the most infamous gents in Theatreland — supposedly Oscar Wilde, John Gielgud and Joe Orton were all patrons — and now is a cocktail and burlesque bar with one of London's sauciest loos in it. What's so saucy about the loo? The cubicle door is entirely see-through until the latch is locked. If that all sounds a bit much for you then just head to the bar, where the staff can create whichever cocktail you so desire, whether it's on the menu or not. Expect the dancers to get up close and personal during the burlesque performances — like many others on this list, it's a tight squeeze inside.

CellarDoor, Zero Aldwych, WC2E 7DN

Bermondsey Arts Club, Bermondsey

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Here at Londonist, we have a strong belief that what a toilet really needs is some jazz. Thankfully, the folks at lush art-deco styled Bermondsey Arts Club agree with us, as that's what awaits inside these former loos. The cocktail list here is extensive and changes regularly depending on the season. We recommend the Brazillian Tea Punch, a blend of cachaca and lemongrass to transport you across the globe — although who'd want to be anywhere other than a set of converted loos?

Bermondsey Arts Club, 102a Tower Bridge Road, SE1 4TP

Chiringuito, Bethnal Green

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Chiringuito holds a special accolade in London, as the only tapas joint with a rooftop bar in a former lavvy. It might be a sign of the times to be eating patatas bravas in what was a loo in the heart of the old East End, but it's a tasty one. Despite the Spanish name and tapas format, Chiringuito's cuisine doesn't just hail from the Iberian Peninsula, there's a fair bit from Latin America too — note the ceviche. The rooftop delights in summer, thanks to the immense location, on Museum Gardens. It's even got a cocktail named after the park: basil infused vodka, elderflower liquor, fresh lime, sugar, egg white, mint and grapefruit bitters.

Chiringuito, Bethnal Green Museum Gardens, Cambridge Heath Road, E2 9PA

A version of this article appears in Londonist Drinks, our book about pubs, bars and the history of drinking in the capital. (buying via this link will help support our site with a small commission)