2006 is turning out to be the year of the luxury lavatory – our August coverage of a chic Parisian sanitary stop was followed by last month’s arrival of Charmin‘s public restrooms in Times Square, and now London joins the game, with a new public powder room opening its doors at 439 – 441 Oxford Street (opposite Selfridges). The big difference with its siblings in Paris and New York, is that this one is for women only. The five-star facilities, WC1, are more than just restrooms. For GBP 5, stressed out shoppers and women on their way from meeting to meeting, or work to date can relax, revive and be pampered. WC1 provides hair dryers, straightening irons, toiletries and cubicles that are roomy enough to change clothes in. Loos are sterilised and hygienically sealed after each visit. A large circular powder-room offers space and good lighting for touching up hair and make-up, and attendants are on hand to sell ‘rescue products’, from nylons and sewing kits to make-up and toothbrushes. For an extra fee, customers can book neck and shoulder massages in a treatment room. With crystal chandeliers, stone floors, dark wood, fresh flowers and carefully calibrated lighting, the entire ambiance conveys luxury and spa-glamour, reflecting the fact that WC1 spent GBP 1 million+ creating the ultimate boutique powder room. The Oxford Street outlet is the starting point for what is planned to be the first chain of branded women’s facilities in the world. WC1’s business strategy is to roll out a franchise network (67% franchise and 33% company owned), with two more outlets opening in Q1 2007, and a further 7 by the end of 2008. Time to send them an email if you’re interested in setting up your own high-end haven.