Introducing London’s new Bathroom Bars

A former public restroom might not seem like the ideal space to open a bar, but London’s nightlife creatives are looking beyond the urinals to uncover the potential of these derelict spaces. Tyler Wetherall on the new bathroom bars.

As I was enjoying my teacup of Hot Buttered Rum in a London bar, an elderly chap appeared through the blue velvet curtain looking as confused as Alice at the bottom of the rabbit hole. “Beg your pardon,” he said. “I thought this was a toilet.” The bartender smiles back, and welcomes him in regardless.

The man’s assumption was fair. From the outside, the venue looks like a public restroom: The Ladies and Gentlemen sign is intact and now illuminated to indicate the entrance to those in the know. But instead of housing a lavatory down the dark narrow steps, this is a recently opened neighborhood cocktail bar from Vestal Vodka‘s William Borrell—sensibly named Ladies & Gentlemen—and an excellent one at that. After using the bar’s restroom, the lost chap stays for a beer anyway—a craft Camden Pale Ale from the local Camden Town Brewery.