Off to the Bog

Trafalgar toilet

No toilets deserve to be described as ‘the bog’ more than those you find in British pubs.

Portrait of a pub toilet

At its worst: chipped tiles, damp chipboard partitions and wet floors; blinking fluorescent light; a toilet seat leaning against the wall, a cubicle door without a bolt, no toilet roll. Hasn’t that bit of chewing gum been in the urinal, next to the disintegrating cigarette end, for the last two weeks? The floor is wet. A piece of paper on the wall says, mockingly: “These toilets are inspected regularly.” Abandon hope all ye who enter here.

The ladies have it good

Bailey emerges from ‘the gents’ with a horrified look on his face, hands dripping wet: “Ugh. That was horrible. No soap, hand-drier busted. Need to throw these shoes away. How were the ladies?” Boak looks puzzled. “Lovely, actually. Really beautifully decorated, and clean… wow! I could see my face reflected in the tiles. And feel how soft my hands are — free balm!”

Nice pubs can have horrible bogs, and vice versa

We’ve been in posh pubs whose toilets are nonetheless iredeemably bad, as if they’d spent every penny on ‘limited edition art prints’ and had to cut back on soap and cleaning products as a result. They know that a code of silence exists: no-one wants to talk about the toilets over their rustic duck pate.

Seriously, no soap? What the…?

We don’t expect all pubs to have the palacial facilities of a Wetherspoons, or bar staff to spend their whole shift mopping up wee. We can deal with no locks on the cubicles (lean against the door, loud whistling… there are ways) and all the other indignities. But we must have soap. A bar of coal tar would do.

All we want, truly, is to be able to share a bag of crisps with our friends with a clear conscience.

Picture from Flickr Creative Commons. This post is our contribution to Pub Bog Day 2012.

23 replies on “Off to the Bog”

I always refer to loos as needing the holy trinity of seat, paper & lock. It’s amazing how many pubs struggle to get one nevermind two or even three of those items.

You are a customer. So am I. I don’t eat or drink in places where the toilets are horrible. Do the same. They can sort it out or go bust, pubs are businesses not causes to support. I don’t pay money to catch illnesses due to an absence of hygiene, nor should anyone

The most entertaining pub toilet I know is The Bridge House in Belfast. It’s a Wetherspoon, with Wetherspoon’s normal toilet policy. But it also caters extensively to large burly men seeking cheap lager. Every time I visit, I inspect the gents to see which side is currently winning. It’s about 3-2 to the burly men at the moment. I imagine there are plumbers, carpenters and tilers in Belfast who have retired on the earnings from that pub’s toilet alone.

In addition to the complaints above, I tend to avoid pubs where I have to put my coat on to go the toilet. My favourite is the permenantly open window with bars on letting in the snow. Normally coupled with no hot water and either no hand drier at all or a drier that only blows cold.

I’d actually say that the average standard of pub toilets has much improved over the years. But I have been in one a few years back which managed to have no seat, lock, paper, soap, towel, hot water or light.

Oh, the pitch dark toilet! We forgot that one. A particularly delightful variant: you know you’re standing in *something*, but what?

The pub I went to watch football in for 10 years in Prague started out with pretty decent lavs, automatic paper towel dispenser, liquid soap dispenser, cleaned pretty regularly.

Then the stag parties found the place, and that they could watch the Premier League all Saturday and drink about 10 quids worth of beer. The toilets got progressively worse, both dispensers ripped off the wall, the doors to the sit downs had to be replaced with metal because heads were occasionally smashed through the somewhat flimsy plywood, waders were the preferred footwear for the regulars. I heard that the ladies was still pretty decent though.

Sometimes I wonder about the amount of utter crap on the internet. Competitions to win a free ipad, self important facebook status updates by people with self esteem lower than the Marianas Trench, the amount of bandwidth wasted so people can listen to that tool Steve Wright on Radio 2.

Then, an absolute gem of an article appears about a piss dungeon.

You, Dave, are a legend.

I’d like to recommend the Long Valley Bar in Cork,Ireland.
Fantastic doorstep sandwiches, the usual array of stouts and lagers and indoor toilets that are open to the elements because they don’t have a roof.
It’s hard to explain unless you’ve seen them but you step through a door in the bar and there’s the pisser,the hand-dryer and a couple of WC’s.
They’re clean, decorated and all in working order with soap and taps.
All fine and dandy until you wonder why it’s chilly while you’re having a piss and look upwards and see the stars twinkling away.
It would take a competent builder less than a day to put a roof on it but for several hundred years no-one has bothered.

Perhaps My blog name renders me predisposed to comment on this…

I went to the now sadly closed Seven Starts at Halfway House in Shropshire. A more basic, unique and rooted in the past pub I swear you’d never have found.

I enquired where the loo was – it was outside. Visiting this facility involved standing just within the scant privacy afforded by a single wooden partition, pissing against some tiles stuck on the side of the house next door. Christ alone knows what happened when one needed a “sitty downer”.

Similar concerns arise at the Cider House in Defford. Not a winter loo I’d venture….

At the Seven Stars, I think if you needed a Number Two you could go to the Halfway House next door.

I once went in a pub in Snowdonia that appeared to have no trap at all in the gents’.

This reminds me of the description of the bogs at the Crown in Stockport in the GBG in the 1970s: “awesome view of the viaduct from the outside gents'””.

The pub is still going strong, but the toilets are now inside.

The long-closed and wonderfully basic Hop Pole at Risbury in Herefordshire had a single WC, way down the garden, for both sexes.

The thought of going to a very-well known Leeds bar fills Louise with dread simply due to the state of the toilets! Women do have it worse than men, though, I think!

I worry that there is a potential for me to become a name inspired expert on thrones and cubicles, but I’ll take the risk to report…

The Luppitt Inn in Luppitt has one of each but there is no light in the gents (and pub doesn’t open during the day) and also doesn’t have, erm, anywhere to sit. So almost everyone used the Ladies which were surprisngly clean and fresh smelling for being built into a stable.

The ones in the Nottingham House in Sheffield looked even worse than those in the photo at the top, when I went last year. Outside lavs are up against quite a few problems but there’s no excuse for filthy damaged indoor ones, which many pubs seem happy with.

Only yesterday did I visit my local and realise just how bad the loo’s had gotten there. The urinals overflow, the lock on the cubicle is precarious at best and the sink tap doesn’t work without persuasion with a knack that only a seasoned regular knows.

No soap and hand dryers that don’t work are a constant problem in so many pubs. To many pubs in central London charge the earth for a pint but can not seem to provide the basics in the toilets.

I would like to see hand dryers that dry hands, not burn them.

Taps that don’t shoot water out with such pressure, that it bounces off the sink straight on to your trousers.

Toilet roll that does not disappear in the holder, so you spend ages trying to fish it out.

Last but no means least. Air fresheners or at least an open window.

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