To „P“ or not to „P“ in Berlin

Just recently, the new generation of modular public toilets was officially unveiled right in front of Berlin’s City Hall. Well, there definitely is a growing need indeed for facilities of that kind in a city with growing numbers of visitors and other mobile people in need. Making me think of some history of coping with this elementary felt urge.


Berlin does offer quite a history of public facilities starting in the mid 19th century. Catering initially for male users only, or rather to „get the pissers off the streets“, the ingenious „Café Achteck“ ( Café Octagon, see top picture) was created and from 1878, dozens of these green painted cast-iron pavillons were placed all over the beer-loving metropolis. Still today there are few in prominent locations, for example at a quiet corner of Gendarmenmarkt. Today though, these rather antique looking structures fulfill all hygienic requirements and usually offer a section for the female patrons as well.

Touring Berlin, which usually includes consumption of any kind of liquid, you will sooner or later feel the need for a restroom. Or rather a toilet or just a „Klo“ ( „loo“ ) in Berlin’s more blunt wording. Don‘t worry, you‘ll be helped ! Generally, all public offices will offer free use. Restaurants can offer free use, but usually expect you do ask and leave a small amount, normally 50 Cents. Or it’s free if you consume another coffee or any other kind of drink.


Bakeries and roadside stalls can be a more tricky thing. They do offer coffee with cake or beer along with Currywurst,but too often do not offer any customer toilet. On the other hand, at world famous consumer temples like Galeries Lafayette or even the KaDeWe department store you‘re expected to drop a 50 cent coin on the plate the toilet attendant provides once you‘re done.

Touring Berlin with a Berlin Guide is probably the nicest and safest way to never be in deep waters. A good guide will always know a safe place or arrange a prompt and relevant „inspection“ of one of Berlin’s many five-star rated hotels and the most comfortable facilities.


Posted by our guide

Uli Welmering




Pictures: Uli Welmering

Last Picture: Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons

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