In Hyderabad, a Loocafe is challenging the poor perception of Indian public toilets
The city’s first luxury public washroom comes with free-to-use toilets, an ATM, an attached cafe, and a premium on cleanliness. Occupying a compact area of 170 sq ft, the washrooms at Loo Café are free to use. The attached cafe serves snacks and beverages all priced below Rs 30. The women’s washroom comes with a sanitary napkin vending machine (each costing Rs 5), and a disposal bin. It also comes equipped with air coolers, solar panels, and security cameras. Occasional visitors are guided towards the toilets by an assistant, and a free access card is given to those who might want to use the facilities regularly. “The washrooms are clean, accessible and near a busy junction,” said Madhu Joshi, 33, who works nearby in an information technology company. “For working women, this is both convenient and safe. Once we are out of the office, we are stuck with bad or no washrooms, and I usually have to make a purchase at a Cafe Coffee Day to use the loo.” Building a Loo Café costs anywhere between Rs 15 lakh and Rs 18 lakh. The high cost, says Nath, is owing to the prefabricated structure and the technology used in it – thermal insulation controls the temperature, easy-to-wash surfaces keep the area dry, and stink sensors monitor the quality of air.
At first glance, the rectangular structure in the heart of Hyderabad’s Hitec City looks like any small café. Its roof is skirted by a striped awning, it is fringed by a set of pretty plants, and it even offers free Wi-Fi. What sets it apart are a ramp access, an amenity often missing in Indian public places, and its purpose.