There is nothing quite like the Attendant.
These days it is not easy to stand out in an city which sees new coffee establishments popping up around every street corner. For those who haven't already been (you certainly would remember), allow me to introduce The Attendant which without doubt occupies London’s most original location for a coffee bar: a late-nineteenth-century gents’ toilet.
It was built as a public urinal in 1890 and left abandoned for more than 50 years after it was shut down in the 1960s. Step in Peter Tomlinson and Ben Russell, who have turned what should have been a dark, unloved and claustrophobic shell into a refreshingly unique coffee stop. I asked them what inspired the transition of such a unique space, answer: "Lots of alcohol in the Crown and Sceptre pub above!" The clever use of such a tiny space feels light, bright and welcoming despite being underground. Who would have thought having an espresso in a urinal would be so appealing? Needless to say, this ex Victorian underground comfort stop has been deep-cleaned. In fact, the baristas tell us it took a whopping 18 months for the full revamp where they've successfully retained most of the original features ; the beautifully ornate iron lace entrance, as have the original porcelain urinals which have been turned into individual eating spaces.
The coffee is profiled and hand roasted by Attendant and passes our test every time - a seriously good caffeine boost whenever I'm in the area. The friendly staff know their stuff too and serve food that wouldn’t look out of place at a trendy English country picnic. The founders go on to explain that "regulars keep coming back because of the charm and charisma Attendant exudes. The coffee and food is on point - it has to be when you are in an ex mens convenience".
The Attendant is brilliantly unique and architecturally honest, but also something mightier: it’s a tribute to restoration, perseverance and damn right quirkyness. What’s more, they have made use of a forgotten space which would rival any of its overground rivals. I had to ask whats next for The Attendant and not only are they growing the charm of their sister Cafe in Shoreditch on Great Eastern Street, they are excited to announce their third site will be opening in Stoke Newington. My lasting thought, how on earth will you make it more memorable than this one...lets wait and see.