Harrods charges pounds 1 to spend a penny

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The Independent Online

They come because it promises "all things for all people everywhere". They come because it is the most famous department store in the world. They come because there are no public lavatories between South Kensington and Hyde Park Corner.

Now, because of the number of people who spend pennies in Harrods without spending their pounds, those caught short in the legendary London store will soon have to pay pounds 1 to use the toilets.

"We've received a lot of complaints from our regular customers that they're standing in a queue of 20 people who have come in just to use the toilets," said a spokesman for Harrods yesterday.

The charge will come into effect early next year, when contractors finish a pounds 1m facelift of all 13 lavatories.

The store first introduced the fee at its first-floor luxury lavatories in June 1994 but all the rest remained free of charge. The spokesman said that some customers had complained about charging but he said more had welcomed it. "In the main people don't mind spending a pound to spend a penny," he said.

Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Fortnum and Mason said yesterday they had no intention of charging for lavatories.

For 20p the City of Westminster offers musical, self-cleaning units. But Harrods said its new facilities more than justified the entrance fee.

"We are adamant that there's nothing quite like them as far as the level of service is concerned," the spokesman said. "The refurbished toilets will have marble floors, mahogany fittings and brass fitments [sic]. There are hairdryers for those who get caught in a shower. Some even have payphones."