Anyhow, on with the motley.
The Six Most Impressive Ladies' Toilets In London
in reverse order
6. The Ben Crouch Tavern
What and where? Pub in Wells Street
The Loo-Down: We start at the least sophisticated end of the spectrum with that old standby, the comedy toilet, and more specifically, the comedy sound effects toilet. It's terribly gauche of me, but as a child visiting the now defunct Museum of the Moving Image for the first time, I was most impressed by the fact that the toilets played the theme from Jaws. Here there's a gothic horror theme going on, so along with the heavy wooden dungeon doors and black wrought-iron accessories, you can listen to a selection from what appears to be the Top Ten Noises from the Hammer House of Horrors tape. Screaming, loud stabs and bizarre creaking sounds are the order of the day. It's ironic, I suppose, that these things are worth faking for public amusement, but places that feature the real thing tend to prefer not to advertise the fact.
What about the gent's? I believe the same noises are prevalent. alasdair may wish to confirm or deny.
Be warned... Anyone who walks willingly into a silly goth theme pub like this one presumably knows no fear, and therefore needs no warnings.
What and where? Bar on Clerkenwell Road
The Loo-Down: First you descend a staircase into a strange futuristic fairytale anteroom – there are shiny silver doors, an objet d'art throne (of the non-flushing variety) in the centre of the room, and all in all it's a bit like entering the Crystal Maze. The actual toilets are less striking, but they do have overdesigned silvery handles and accessories that resemble nothing so much as the "gynaecological instruments for operating on mutant women" that featured heavily in David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers. Impressive, but possibly a mite peculiar.
What about the boys? The same anteroom leads to both loos, so I imagine the experience is much the same.
Be warned... I was last there about five years ago, so they might have totally changed it now. (Because obviously, I know you're all going to want to trail around London to see all of these lavatorial hotspots, and I'd hate to disappoint.)
What and where? Bar/club in Piccadilly Circus
The Loo-Down: A functional approach to luxury. Painted a luxurious bordello red, a very generous number of cubicles for a club toilet, and decked out with chandeliers, tassels, diamanté and generic sparkly bits, in an attempt to live up to its name.
What about the boys? Don't know. Do you know, wheeler?
Be warned... The bar full of horrible loud clubbiness on a weekend, so go in the week when it's all tinkling jazz. More specific to the toilet, this is the only one of this top six that has a permanently pissed-off attendant in attendance, who gets all stroppy if you don't go into the cubicle that you direct. This dulls the sparkliness just a bit (or a lot, depending on how many Manhattans you've downed by then).
3. The May Fair Bar
What and where? Hotel bar in Mayfair (hence the name)
The Loo-Down: All black shiny lacquerwork and white marble, spacious and cool and vaguely Oriental. The sort of convenience you'd find in a Bond villain's lair (only Blofeld's version would presumably have a diamanté kitty litter box for the ever-present Persian mog). Because it's a posh hotel, you'll be drying your hands on real, small towels rolled up in "ambassador's reception" pyramids, and when you've used one, you deposit it in a stylish linen basket thingy.
What about the boys? I am reliably informed that it is exactly the same as the ladies.
Be warned... The loos are a long way from the bar – there seems to be a mile of cream-carpeted corridor before you actually get there, so it's a good thing they are aesthetically worth the trip. Nonetheless, set out early to avoid emergencies.
What and where? Restaurant and tea room, Conduit Street
The Loo-Down: A recent find and what a jewel – quite literally. Not really like going to the lav, more like walking into a gem-encrusted kaleidoscope. The whole shebang is a dark, spangly box of mirrors with gem-studded spiderweb motifs and red glowy lights. The loo roll is even attached to a crystal beaded trapeze that hangs from the ceiling.
What about the boys? From what I could see from the doorway, it seems to be as blue and sparkly as the ladies is red and sparkly, i.e. extremely.
Be warned... Sketch is a très chic celeb hang-out, so if you find a woman sobbing in the booth next to you, she's probably upset because Jude Law has just dumped her.
What and where? Hotel, Mayfair
The Loo-Down: Ah, now we have class. Hand-painted art deco tiles. Tasteful floral murals. Quality antique hardwoods. Lots of bog roll. And a nice old lady in uniform who fills a sink with water for you and then hands you a real towel to dry your hands on. This must be how they used to go in the olden days, or possibly in BBC costume dramas. In fact, it's probably what toilets are like in heaven.
What about the boys? I'm told that you don't get such obvious attendants in the gents. I'm also told that this is a good thing.
Be warned... When one is in Claridges, one finds oneself wanting to stay there as long as possible. The only danger is that you might get used to this sort of luxury and find yourself resorting to a life of crime to maintain it.
In other news, I have the day off work tomorrow, so hooray for that. I shall think of you all schlepping off to work while I lie under my duvet wondering how best to pamper myself. Come to think of it, ideas for entertaining things to do with my day would be welcomed. Otherwise it will probably be frittered away on eating and shopping. Not that those are bad things at all, but it might be nice to do something a bit different. Any suggestions?