Not all restaurant toilets are created equal.
Need a panoramic view of London’s skyline flung at your feet before you can even think about unzipping? Find your toilet experience infinitely improved with Blackadder dialogue pumped in through speakers? Yeah, we feel you.
You’re a person of culture. A person of taste. A person who sometimes desires — no, demands — their restaurant bathroom visit be brightened with vintage porn on the walls or Gothic poetry on the speakers.
Not all of our pick are Instagram magnets — sometimes the aesthetics are normcore but the experience is transcendent. But all of them are going the extra mile to elevate your next toilet trip.
Neon confessionals at Ave Mario, Covent Garden
The bathrooms at Big Mamma Group’s third London venue are as vividly, flamboyantly trippy as the rest of the restaurant — expect 70s-slanted religious-irreligious maximalism, infinity mirrors, and a lot of neon. Instagram’s awash with people doing happy, chaotically-lit toilet-shoots with their squadra.
Ave Mario, Covent Garden
Bathrooms that don’t look that special, but are, at Yatay, Soho
A nice wholesome palate-cleanser of a bathroom from utterly lovely Soho newcomer Yatay, whose toilets don’t look like something special — unless you count the fact they’re pristine and welcoming as a novelty, which, fair — but prepare to be enchanted by their hi-tech Japanese UX, with warming seats and, tbh, so much gadgetry going on that you’d cause a restaurant-long queue if you tried to use all of it.
Skirting obscenity laws at The Hunter S, Dalston
This Hackney pub’s scattered with 1930s design nods — inspired by its namesake Hunter S Thompson, and his chaotic energy. You’ll find a lot of taxidermy and salacious art in the pub itself, but the bathrooms ramp it up a level — well, the men’s do: big, expectant ruby red lip-shaped urinals, and vintage porn hanging on the walls. The women’s are a bit tame in comparison: just the occasional bit of retro bondage art.
The Hunter S, Dalston
Master of all you survey at Aqua Shard, Borough
The interiors of the bathrooms at Aqua’s London outpost aren’t that noteworthy in their own right — it’s all about the views. 31 floors up, the urinals in the gents’ come with the sinister, Succession-esque power rush of relieving yourself with London outspread at your feet. The set-up of the women’s toilets is less intense — you’ll have a nice view while you wash your hands, basically.
Aqua Shard, Borough
Batman-themed neon at Park Row, Piccadilly
The main bar and dining spaces at Piccadilly’s DC-inspired venue are keeping it fairly chill, with a light scattering of Batman-verse nods. If you’re in the market for brash, comic-book aesthetics head for the bathrooms, where the walls are scattered with supervillain neon in a lurid, Kilmer-era colour palette. Read more about our visit here.
Park Row, Mayfair
Supernatural curses at China Tang at The Dorchester, Mayfair
The bathrooms at China Tang are more or less in line with the decor of the main restaurant — art deco lines, opulent chinoiserie furnishings, lot of high-shine lacquered wood — but in a nicely weird sidestep, have thrown some Regency England into the mix with a softly-spoken recital of Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Soak up a few stanzas about supernatural curses and the desolate loneliness of the open ocean, before heading back to your har gau.
China Tang at The Dorchester, Mayfair
Infinity and beyond vibes at NOPI, Soho
Infinitely receding selfies available at Ottolenghi’s Soho restaurant. The toilet stalls themselves are more subdued, but the main bathroom’s (the women’s, anyway) is very hall of mirrors meets full-on bling.
Dream lighting, apparently, at Isla at The Standard, King’s Cross
Debated including this one because the toilets, though nice, aren’t that striking at first look. But a bunch of photographers at a recent dinner party we went to hailed them as some of the best bathrooms in London — thanks to the lighting, materials and mixed textures — for delivering that grainy, golden-lit, polaroid from Studio 54 look. ‘Makes everybody look gorgeous’, claimed one professional, to widespread agreement from other industry folk. Honestly? We’ve been to the bathrooms there and don’t recall looking any more or less ravishingly hot than always — but we submit this industry intel for your consideration all the same.
Isla at The Standard, King’s Cross
Unbuckle your codpiece at The Angelic, Highbury
One to enchant Brits and baffle tourists, you can void your bladder to Blackadder at this Highbury pub. All of the bathrooms play a recording on a constant loop. All the seasons. No screens. No other Blackadder connection to the pub as far as we’re aware. Incongruously pleasing.
The Angelic, Highbury
Seventies sci-fi but make it a toilet at Sketch, Mayfair
Hard to have a Most Flamboyant Toilets round up without including Sketch’s hyperkitsch pod-studded bathrooms, though to be honest we reckon they’re deeply disconcerting and absolutely hate the experience. Like being trapped inside a huge, hard marshmallow or a space-age sex toy. Still, they’re beloved by many, and easily London’s most instantly recognisable restaurant toilets, so onto the list they go.
Did we miss your most beloved bathroom? Email us at [email protected]