When it comes to pub toilets Falkirk’s J D Wetherspoon bar The Carron Works is in a gold-plated class of its own - as proved by a newly-received top honour in a major national contest.
To anyone who hasn’t heard of the Loo of the Year Awards it might all sound a bit whimsical, because surely the toilets are the very last thing you’d push as a special feature when trying to “sell” a pub as a must-visit attraction.
In fact (as hospitality industry surveys regularly confirm) the exact opposite is the case, and particularly with female customers.
Study after study shows that a place which might otherwise seem excellent on all fronts will score an epic fail with women if the toilets are not up to scratch.
One common observation is that if toilets are less than perfect what is that likely to say about the rest of a venue’s operation?
Beyond simply advertising the excellence of its own toilets (sometimes the only quality public-access conveniences in many small to medium size towns across the UK) Wetherspoon has been trying to drive up standards of “away from home” toilets across Britain.
Loo of the Year inspectors make unannounced visits to thousands of toilets at sites across the UK to judge them on criteria including décor and maintenance, cleanliness, accessibility, hand washing and drying equipment - and overall management.
Many are graded silver, gold, platinum or diamond, while “unacceptable” toilets are not graded at all.
There’s arguably an extra challenge for the sort of busy urban bars managed by Wetherspoon, where a large volume of customers obviously leads to heavy use of the facilities - but the Carron Works is clearly up to the challenge.
Manager David McAuley said: “We are delighted with the award. Staff at the pub ensure the toilets are in first class condition at all times and it is great that this has been recognised by the inspectors.”
Loo of the Year 2019 managing director Mike Bone said: “The toilets at The Carron Works have been designed and fitted out to a very high standard and are both clean and well maintained.
“The pub richly deserves its gold award.”
The Awards have no less than 61 categories, covering everything from supermarkets and hotels to banqueting venues, even zoological parks ... anywhere where visitors are at some point going to want to “spend a penny”.
Meanwhile the Carron Works also recently scored on a quite different front when it became one of just two Falkirk pubs to rate a listing in the new edition of the Campaign for Real Ale’s Good Beer Guide.