I’ve walked the mean streets of London.
The darkened alleys, urine soaked stoops and promiscuous undergrowth, and I can honestly say, Victoria Tower Gardens is not one of those places.
I came across this loo on an unseasonably warm, sun-shiny blue day walking in the dappled light of the North Bank. It’s so far from the gritty streets I might as well have been staring in a 1950’s themed Christian musical.
Set under the northern eaves of Lambeth Bridge, this loo would do well in a hobbit’s village; it’s compact, characterful and a bit dero. They have tried to polish it up with some metal art on the exterior and expensive pay gates but it hasn’t lost it’s troll-like under the stairs quality which I heartily endorse.
Not to mention the view from the front door.
Yep, that is the southern end of the Palace of Westminster, but a stones throw from Westminster Abbey and Big Ben. The park out front is gorgeous and that is coming from someone who instinctually hates children and the sound of their happy laughter.
This is of course still London, so you don’t get the privilege of using the bathroom for free (like it was some kind of human right or something!) but within the context of over priced bathrooms I have encountered (I’m looking at you Covent Garden, I won’t be paying one full pound of my money to use your facilities again) the 20p it cost to enter these hallowed and slightly wonky walls, felt fair.
This bathroom catered for all the needs I could personally expect to require; disabled access, baby changing rooms, men’s, women’s, sinks etc. It did still conform to the hetronormative male/female set up that is our current structure. I am yet to find a truly unisex set of bathrooms here but I am on the look out for some good examples of non gender discriminative signage.
Inside the ladies there were three stalls, all a bit pokey as is the fashion in England. Don’t expect to get inside a bathroom in the UK without smashing your knees on the door as you try to close it.
The set up was clean and pretty modern but seemed to be heavily used (the bins were full to bursting at 2pm ish on a Sunday afternoon).
The math of the place was a bit off; three stalls, two sinks and one hand drier. I fear the planners couldn’t count.
As ever I was quite taken with the tile work. The grouting was badly done but I still kind of liked it. Looked like someone let their slow brother help out or more likely, the workers were kind of lazy and shit.
Again, I kind of love how grimy and grim looking this “sky light” is, more of a ceiling window in my opinion or perhaps roof hole.
The bathroom had a lovely lady attendant who, when I arrived was standing in the sunshine outside the bathroom. I wanted to go up to her and ask her about her life. What was it like to work in a public restroom? Did she have nice clientele? Were there drunk dickheads to deal with or perhaps jerky tourists leaving messes?
Unfortunately, my plans for a touching “Humans of New York” esk end to this post were dashed because I was too much of a chicken shit to go up and ask her about her life and get a photograph. I guess that is a plan for next time.
Cleanliness : 6.5/10 It was ok. The bins were full and it was quite heavily used overall but it wasn’t dirty per say. The grubby, lazy construction in some areas would have been points down but it made me smile at the quaint, characterful, shitness which I adore about London.
Interior : 6.5/10 You don’t get more than the regular bathroom experience for your 20p, but it wasn’t filled with crackheads or used bloody needles. In a city that frequently charges you 50 pence of your hard earned moneys for the use of a public toilet, I felt fine about inserting my 20p into the swanky slot, an irony that was in no way lost on me when faced with the slightly shoddy interior.
Exterior : 8/10 The view, the green park, the position beside the slow brown slug of the Thames, and the close proximity to my house, Tate Modern and Westminster Abbey all filled me with a smiling heart.
Safety : 8/10 I’d like to believe that the lovely older lady attendant would come to my aid if I were being mugged in the loos. Perhaps not in a super hero show of strength but she would, I believe, yell some obscenities and bring about help if not hit said mugger with her purse or cleaning brush.
Snugglitude : 7/10 Not the best or the worst and I do love me some wonky tile work.
Total : 36/50 Not bad London but I think we can do better.