Are the Whalebone Freehouse's loos the best pub toilets in Norwich?
When landlord Mike Lorenz decided to spend £20,000 on new state-of-the-art loos for his pub, he might have feared he was flushing money away.
But, far from loo-sing out, his investment has proved more than a flash in the pan - after winning the popular Whalebone Freehouse a platinum grade in the UK’s Loo of the Year Awards.
Not wanting anything about his Norwich pub to be bog-standard, Mr Lorenz got the inspiration to upgrade the ladies and gents facilities after seeing some bespoke urinals in Australia.
“One of the main problems is when you’ve got a lot men going in and out of the toilets, they’re not the best aimers,” he said politely.
“We didn’t want our customers to experience that, nor our staff when they have to clean up.”
But the stainless steel urinals are not the only thing that impressed scrupulous judges from the competition, who marked the independently-owned pub in Magdalen Road against 101 strict criteria including signage and decor, fixtures and fittings and overall cleanliness.
Mr Lorenz has also paid close attention to the mirrors, hand washing and drying facilities, cleanliness and hygenic smell - with staff inspecting the facilities every hour to make sure they are up to scratch.
“Toilets are not the best thing in the world to talk about and in the past, they were probably the last things that wre invested in in pubs,” he said.
“However, it’s one of those things we feel is extremely important.
“We get a lot of comments from our customers to say those toilets are really good.
“It’s all part of the experience. It’s not just about having a pint - we want customers to have facilities that are as good as, if not better, than they have at home.”
He added it is vital they are “like somewhere you can actually go in and come out of and think: ‘That wasn’t too bad after all.’”
The platinum grade is the highest and most prestigious level that can be awarded by pubs.
“Given our policy to offer quality service and surroundings for our customers, we are delighted to have received this award and recognition from a national body,” said Mr Lorenz.
“Our cleaners pay a great deal of attention to detail and cleanliness and staff inspect the facilities every hour during trading times. This award is also testament of a job well done.”