A recent snap poll by The Morning Advertiser (MA) revealed most operators would allow non-paying customers to use the toilet at their pub.
Of the 203 respondents, 68% (139) said non-paying customers were welcome to use their lavatories while 32% (64) said they were not.
However, many licensees who were happy to allow this also urged guests should act with courtesy and ask permission first as well as leave the facilities as they find them.
A representative from The Castle Inn pub in Monmouth shared on social media: “We are public houses not public conveniences. We will of course allow if they ask, many don't.
“When they don't, we politely inform them that asking is more socially acceptable than just assuming they can use our toilet paper, soap and hand dryers/towels.”
Other licensee’s suggested pubs could advise a charity donation from the customer, in lieu of a purchase at the venue, adding sites that accommodate guests in need of relief could benefit from their custom in the future.
In light of rising costs, one option for pubs to consider would be charging non-paying guests to use the toilet at their site, however, licensee of the Walmer Castle pub in Notting Hill, London, Jack Greenall, told The MA this could be seen as “mean.”
Owner of the Unruly Pig in Bromeswell, Suffolk, Brendan Padfield added public conveniences are not as “prevalent” now as they have previously been and that pubs have a “wider role to play” in communities compared with other high street businesses.
However, some respondents on social media stated the answer was a “simple no” and urged customers to at least purchase a drink if they plan on using the facilities to help with costs.
Though others felt the situation was more complex than a simple yes or no, explaining the impact allowing non-paying guests to use the toilet would have on a business varied and was dependent on location.
One user commented on The MA’s Facebook page: “I’ve run pubs in city centres, and we had to be strict as we had drug users go in leaving a horrendous mess.
“I used to ask for a charity donation in those days which they would never want to pay, an easy way of dealing with it.
“Where my pub is now; it’s no problem but asking nicely does make me feel much happier about it and a nice way to show how hospitable we are. I always say I really appreciate them asking and [that it’s] no problem at all.”