Kylie Minogue talked about “Toto toilets” on TV talent show The Voice, so maybe the Aussie singer with the famously pert bottom favours the Toto Washlet, the Japanese “wash-and-dry” loo, which gives you a gentle rinse and a pulse of warm air. Try one out for yourself at one of CP Hart’s über-cool London bathroom showrooms, where the latest models are installed in the customer toilets. Don’t be shy.
Bells-and-whistles loos are just one of the new-tech ideas at a burgeoning band of London bathroom specialists, where the average starting spend on a makeover is £8,000 to £10,000. “This might buy you a freestanding bath, separate shower/wet area and screen, WC, basin, vanity unit, mirror, tiling, and heating — but these are only very rough guidelines,” says Ripples, another leading London outfit, founded by Roger and Sandra Kyme in 1988, with four branches — in NW3 (020 7449 9594), Chelsea (020 7373 3668), Richmond (020 3166 4008) and Reigate (01737 226450). Or visit ripples.ltd.uk
Super-loo: the AquaClean 8000-plus from Geberit is a space-saving, remote-controlled loo and bidet combined, £4, 422.31 including VAT (geberit-aquaclean.co.uk/geberit)
Wash and stay
Mood and task lighting is essential these days, when hard-working Londoners require a “pamperdome” — a retreat as much as a functional bathroom. Modern tastes run to intricate mosaics, marble, wet rooms and underfloor heating. However, interior decor is only half the cost, as installation will add around half as much again. Bathrooms are perhaps the most complex room in the house to design and fit. Every London home is different and older properties with layers of ancient plumbing, tangled pipes and clunky cisterns can be extra-tricky. Hot water systems vary widely, as do waste outlets, water supply/pressure/hardnesss, and local authority demands.
You will need a competent builder to rip out the existing bathroom suite, a registered plumber, an electrician, a carpenter to box in cisterns and pipework, a plasterer, a tiler and a decorator. Knocking down a wall or building a new one, moving doorways and replacing a boiler can all drive up costs. Shop around carefully for an installer, using recommendations from your retailer. Look at examples of previous work, get multiple quotes and ask for testimonials. You won’t regret it.
Make a splash
Established in 1937, CP Hart has branches in Chiswick, Chelsea, Muswell Hill, Notting Hill, Wimbledon and two in Primrose Hill, while at the flagship in Waterloo, you can splash around in working showers and try out the latest steam and spa rooms.
At the Waterloo and Chelsea stores you can make an e-plan, or digital moodboard, of your bathroom on a huge screen, swiping products into place from a vast database. Fittings on offer are suave and sophisticated. “Chrome is giving way to brass, copper, rose gold and bronze,” says designer Rachel Martin. “We call it warm metallics.” Designs are tactile, with embossed tiles, faceted metal and textured surfaces. But the sheer volume of brands and products on offer can be intimidating.
£3,570: spey cast-iron bath with enamelled interior and painted exterior, from Drummonds (drummonds-uk.com)
Dip a toe in
Start your new bathroom search with a gentle showroom crawl in Chelsea, where Ripples and CP Hart face each other across Fulham Road. The mood in both is upbeat and ritzy, with gold mosaic, stone flooring and a large double-headed wetroom for shared showering. Ripples also has a working Washlet.
Then stroll to King’s Road to find Waterworks, the first European showroom for a favourite American nationwide luxury brand, driven by the passion for design of founder Barbara Sallick and the energy of her son, Peter (579-581 King’s Road, SW6; uk.waterworks.com; call 0800 068 0248). Over three floors, tiles stretch in every direction and one wall is crammed with a huge display of taps and showerheads. Downstairs, a diva of a bath in seamless, hand-beaten copper begs to be caressed. It has a sumptuous tin lining and costs almost £38,000.
Drummonds is across King’s Road at No 642 (020 7376 4499; drummonds-uk.com), with another store in Notting Hill. Lavish craftsmanship marks this brand. Its handmade British cabinets are enhanced with marble and metal, and cast-iron baths are thick with enamel applied by Polish masters. Also factor in a lot of rich, polished brass — and another copper tub, the must-have, it seems, for modern, luxurious London bathing.
£5,265: Devon & Devon's Music vanity unit with marble top is "inspired by the roaring Twenties"; devon-devon.com)
Head west to Devon & Devon (77-79 Westbourne Grove, W2; 020 7221 5137; devon-devon.com). This Italian luxury brand has showrooms all over the world. Co-director and architect Paola Tanina, who revels in Art Deco glamour, says: “The bathroom today is truly a living space in its own right.”
Quiet please: John Lewis's hydrosonic Teuco massage bath, above, (£2,748), splash-proof Bagno TV (£1,620), and vanity unit and basin (£1,096); johnlewis.com)
One-stop shop for fixtures and fitting
Unlike the kitchen trade, most bathroom specialists will not take care of the fitting, though the majority will “recommend” tradespeople. However, the new bathroom studio on the third floor at John Lewis in Oxford Street offers not only design but also services for tiling, plumbing and fitting, and adds the security of long-term guarantees.
Browse nearly 60 displays, and play around with working shower heads by Hansgrohe. Hear how Kaldewei turns its steel baths into iPhone speakers, and appreciate just how quiet is the new hydrosonic massage bath from Teuco (johnlewis.com; 020 7629 7711).