Thankfully the days of hiding out in the school toilets to eat my lunch are long gone but I was recently transported to the past in more ways than one when I found myself munching sandwiches in a urinal. Before you put me in touch with anti-bullying organisations rest assured that I have not found myself the target of the office tyrant but have simply discovered a cosy little spot for my daily caffeine fix in the form of attendant. Tucked away off Oxford Street this tiny cafe spent its former years as a Victorian lavatory before being transformed into the vibrant coffee shop it is today.
Descending the stairs to this little underground haven feels like a real escape from the bustle of central London. Built in 1890 and sympathetically restored after lying abandoned since the 1960s, the space still sports the original urinals, flooring and wall tiles. You can rest assured, though, that after a seriously deep clean the only aromas now lingering are those of cake, croissants and seriously good coffee.
Anyone with a weakness for period styling with a modern twist would feel right at home here. The green Tolix stools and exposed light bulbs are the perfect compliment to the Victorian fixtures and the cracked tiles and original flooring more than satisfy that craving for a taste of yesteryear. Even the old attendant’s room remains in place and is, rather ironically, now the customer toilet.
Not only are the surroundings a real talking point, the food and drinks are excellent. The coffee is made from their very own blend and the ever-changing menu is crammed with home cooked seasonal delights such as vanilla and passion fruit French toast and hearty stew with sourdough bread.
The cafe has featured in numerous publications and is a popular spot. It’s probably best avoided on weekends as it’s a very small space and can become crowded but it’s a great place to visit for a mid-morning tea break or for a bite to eat at lunch time. It was raining when I passed by and, sitting in one of the compact porcelain nooks listening to the sound of the downpour, I could happily have stayed all day, scooping up cake crumbs and loosing myself in a paperback. Sadly, however, seats are in rather high demand so this is more of a quick pit stop than somewhere to linger over your latte.
The staff are absolutely lovely and there’s a welcoming, cosy vibe. They’re open until 6pm everyday and serve food until 4pm. Pop by and check it out for somewhere that little bit different to enjoy breakfast, brunch or lunch with a taste of Victorian London.