The Attendant, Fitzrovia, London

1 May 2014

There’s nothing quite like The Attendant, the resurrection of an ornate Fitzrovian urinal. It reminded us why we love visiting coffee shops.

The Attendant London (9)

The Attendant London (4)

This wasn’t our first visit, but I hadn’t been brave enough to take photos until now – there’s something odd about taking photos in a toilet, whether or not patrons are tackle out.

Needless to say, this ex Victorian underground comfort stop has been deep-cleaned. In fact, the baristas tell me it took a whopping 18 months.

The Attendant London (7)

The Attendant London (6)

It is the brainchild of Pete Tomlinson and Ben Russell. The pair approached the landlord, who bought the premises at auction intending to open an artists’ studio. The studio never took off and the building remained derelict, attracting rubbish and playing home to homeless people, until Pete and Ben stepped in.

I was told that, a few days previously, a homeless man came into the cafe and introduced himself as a former ‘resident’. He remarked how nice it was that they’d kept a lot of the original features.

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The Attendant London (16)

Turning an unloved corner of Fitzrovia into one of London’s coolest coffee shops, The Attendant is now a little over one year old. It’s tiny, with stools by the urinals (so to speak) and a small table at one end. It can be a little too warm and a tad claustrophobic on busy days (and it’s usually busy).

None of this, however, really matters. Clearly, it’s not a place for hours of meandering conversation – much better for a quick-ish visit to admire the decor.

The Attendant London (12)

The coffee comes from London’s wonderful Caravan roastery. Truth be known and told, my flat white was fairly average – though it may have suffered by comparison as I had just come from the consistently exceptional Kaffeine, round the corner.

The staff cope well with their limited surroundings. They also cope well with this inevitable conversation, which they must suffer about 100 times a day:

Customer: Do you have a toilet?
Barista: I’m afraid not.
Customer: Ironic, don’t you think?

The Attendant London (1)

The Attendant London (5)

Strangely, during my visit I stepped on broken glass by the table. I mentioned it to a barista – she said she hadn’t had time to clean it up (and then proceeded not to do so). I’m not sure what was more demanding of her attention. Mrs Cosy, who worked in a cafe until recently, thought this was extremely bad form. I hope it was a one-off.

The Attendant London (15)

The Attendant London (14)

The Attendant is brilliantly unique, but also something mightier: it’s a tribute to restoration, perseverance and elbow grease.

Without doubt, one of the best coffee shops in a toilet.

Now, enjoy some more photos (what can I say? It’s just so photogenic).

The Attendant London (13)

The Attendant London (11)

The Attendant London (10)

The Attendant London (8)

The Attendant London (18)

The Attendant London (17)


26-27 Foley St

Twitter: @Attendantcafe

We visited on 10 April 2014.

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  • Andrew 1 October 2014 at 10:32 am

    Popped in to the Attendant on a recent visit to London. Had A Latte and Cake which were Superb. While we were there people popped their head in to see what it was like and then didn’t venture in…..for many the idea of it being an ex Victorian Toilet seemed to put them off. But for me it was well worth the visit. The Attendant is just a short stroll from the World Famous “Kaffeine” coffee shop, but as its always so packed in there the Attendant is a great alternative. Having said that it too can be very busy at certain times of the day.

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  • Simon 27 April 2017 at 11:55 am

    Only just went in here a couple of weeks ago. Working near by I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a drink in the pub that this is located right next to. Maybe the idea of it being a former loo did put me off. But what a shame it took me so long as it’s great down there. They even serve their own roasted beans. Now I need to go and check our their other location in Shoreditch. I believe it’s not a former toilet.