1. Travel
Send to a Friend via Email

Best Free London Public Toilets

Where to 'Spend a Penny' for Free!

By

We all need to know where the best loos are in central London whether we're visiting or local. London train stations (not tube stations) all have toilets but are not usually free.

These public toilets have been chosen for their close location to major London attractions. (Remember, all museums and galleries have free loos too.)

1. Near Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace, London
© Laura Porter

The nearest free public toilets to Buckingham Palace are in St. James's Park. Go up The Mall -- the long road in front of Buckingham Palace, towards Trafalgar Square -- and enter the park on the right at Marlborough Gate. There are men, women, and disabled toilet facilities.

Opening Times: Summer: 9am - 8pm, Winter: 10am - 4pm

(Note, the toilets at Green Park tube station now have turnstiles and you have to pay to enter.)

There are further clean facilities in Inn The Park the very nice cafe/restaurant in St. James's Park.

2. Near London Eye

London Eye
© Laura Porter
The London Eye Ticket Hall is in County Hall and there are free toilets downstairs. I didn't find them particularly clean last time I was there but they do have those fun Dyson hand dryers. I've always found the disabled toilets on the ground floor to be pretty clean.

A few steps further along the South Bank brings you to Southbank Centre which was refurbished and reopened in 2007. Head into the Royal Festival Hall as there are loads of toilets in there and they are always clean. There's also a great cafe and bar in there, as well as all the restaurants outside.

3. Near the Houses of Parliament/Westminster Abbey

© Laura Porter
Britain's most expensive public toilets are opposite Westminster Abbey costing 50p. This inspired me to find free toilets in the Parliament Square area.

The Methodist Central Hall is two minutes walk from the Houses of Parliament, opposite Westminster Abbey, and next to those over-priced public facilities. The toilets are in the basement and there is lift access. Why not stop off for a cup of tea at the peaceful Wesley's Cafe, also in the basement?

Opening Times: Mon-Fri: 8am - 4pm, Sat-Sun: 9am - 4pm

4. Trafalgar Square

© Laura Porter
Public toilets are situated on the west side of Trafalgar Square at the base of the central staircase. From the north terrace (raised area in front of the National Gallery) the toilets and the cafe can be accessed by lift, or you can walk around the side of the square.

Opening Times: daily 8am - 8pm.
Baby care facilities available.

Of course, you could always go in the National Gallery and use their free facilities instead.

5. Oxford Street - London Department Stores

John Lewis, Oxford Street, London
© Britain on View
All London Department Stores have public toilets. Anyone can use them, whether you're a customer or not, and there's never a charge. Most department stores have public toilets on more than one floor so you shouldn't have to wait.

The ones to remember on Oxford Street are: Selfridges, House of Fraser, Debenhams, and John Lewis.

6. Covent Garden

24 hour facility run by Westminster Council. In the piazza, next to St. Paul's Church where all the street entertainers perform. Facilities are downstairs, so no disabled access, but they are staffed so are safe and clean.

Opening Times: 24 hours.
Staffed facilities with a baby care room.

A lot of central London is in the Westminster borough so they have 55 council-run toilet facilities across the city, including 12 temporary units placed out in the West End every Friday and Saturday night. 27 public conveniences are staffed which means public toilets are well-maintained. Westminster council tells me 15 million people visit their toilets each year – that's equivalent to three times the population of Scotland!

See useful links below.

7. Broadwick Street (Soho)

Broadwick Street Gentlemen's Public Toilets London
© Laura Porter
More underground public conveniences run by Westminster Council. These have the honor of being featured in a popular 1960s British comedy: Not Only ... But Also starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. The episode in question featured John Lennon (yes, the famous Beatle) as a commissionaire waiting outside the toilets pretending the men's toilets were a private 'old boys' club called "Gentlemen". Ah, satirical comedy. You can see the episode here.

Opening Times: 10am - 2am.

8. Leicester Square

Leicetser Square
© Visit London
These are the other 24 hour facilities run by Westminster Council. They are on the north side of Leicester Square. Both men and women's are downstairs, so no disabled access, but they are staffed so are kept clean. (2012 update: these are no longer free.)

The next best option in this part of town is the McDonald's which is open from 5am to 3am daily.

9. McDonalds

I'm not going to recommend you stop for lunch but I can say McDonalds in London usually have clean public toilets. As long as you don't get in the way of paying customers I don't think it offends them if you to nip in and use the facilities. Even if there is a sign stating 'Toilets for Customers Only' you can normally still get away with it.

I made good use of their facilities when my daughter was still in diapers (nappies) as their baby care/disabled toilets are usually locked so are even cleaner. The staff always unlocked the door for me and were always courteous.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.