Whether you are a local or a tourist, when you have to go, you have to go. We are talking about going to the loo, the khazi, privy, crapper, WC, throne, John, and many other words. But to be on the safe side and not get caught short, always say toilet.
Public toilets a rarity
Public toilets run by the council are a rarity. Since 2010 council funding has been reduced by about 50%. Toilet provision isn’t protected as a statutory function of councils so they along with litter collection, grants, non essential social care etc have been cut.
Crime to urinate or defecate in public
In effect, they are like red telephone boxes, they are no longer the street architecture of London. To urinate or defecate in a public place in Britain is a criminal offence which generally carries a fine. So please hold on, and check out these places.
Fast food places can offer relief in a hurry
Most fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King (but not express stores), Pizza Hut, Pizza Express and pubs have no objection to a person using their facilities and not purchasing any food or drink. Some restaurants have signs up or want you to eat and drink before you use their toilets. Others have toilets locked, and you need to get a code from the staff, to trip the electric lock.
Most High Street supermarkets in Britain have toilets which are free to use. These include: Tesco, Sainsbury’s Marks & Spencer, and Aldi. Some of them will also have baby changing facilities. Many hotels will allow visitors to use their toilets, but it is always polite to ask the person in reception first.
Toilets at mainline railway stations are free to use
Network Rail’s 19 managed stations all have free toilets. One of the busiest is Liverpool Street, which has about 1.3 million users and goes through 2,000 jumbo loo rolls a year. Paddington Station toilets are free and open 24 hours a day and include: accessible toilets, a baby changing room; changing places facility; and a mother care room. These are available on Platform 12 of Paddington Station, and are free to use.
You don’t have to wait at a service station
For car journeys stop off at a motorway service station. The unisex urinal is a major game changer if you are caught in between junctions. It allows you to comfortably and easily pee in the safety of your vehicle. You can even, if you have time, go on a toilet tour of London.
How about spending a penny at The Princess Louise pub in Holborn, and see some of the capital’s restored Victorian urinals.If you want to venture outside the capital and go to Manchester, make time for the John Rylands Library, where you can do your business and see original Victorian toilets.
Converted toilets are now used to serve cocktails
The Attendant in Fitzrovia, London’s Bloomsbury, is a restored Victorian public toilet now a cafe and coffee bar. Another former lavatory in Covent Garden has now been converted into a place for live music and cocktails and is known as the Cellar Door. They have incredible toilets where the transparent glass frosts over when you lock the door.
You may need a John (toilet) when travelling around UK
If you are travelling around Britain, you can download a website called The Great British Toilet Map. Lonely Planet has information in a book. There are also apps which also map out locations of public toilets in London such as: Flush, Toilet Finder and Toilets4London
General information on some essentials
When it comes to toilet paper, you always want to have a stash of tissues in your bag in case no one has replenished the stocks, or the cleaners haven’t been in. Apart from wiping your behind, you may need it to put on the seat if you are going to use the throne, or merely to dry your hands. Other things to consider are: sanitizer; small change; washcloth towel; and female urinal
Safe to sit on a public toilet
According to surveys, if there are three toilets, don’t go to the middle one, as that is most likely to be most used. The first toilet apparently is less used. Many people particularly find toilet seats a great source of disgust. They fear that if they sit on it, they’ll immediately catch a disease because of all the germs and bacteria.
But this concern is unfounded. The reason: bacteria and germs enter our bodies through the mucous membranes or damaged skin barriers, such as small wounds, not through mere skin contact. So, anyone who sits on the toilet normally and has no sores is safe from pathogens.