Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 5 December, 2021

A definitive ranking of the top 9 public restrooms in Dublin to do your makeup in

… in a hurry.

9. Brown Thomas, Grafton St.


Pros: Frequenting the Brown Thomas bathroom is akin to crashing the fancy dinner party of your really together and successful mate – you’re having an unreal time but everyone’s looking at you and you kind of know you don’t deserve to be there.

The lighting in the Brown Thomas bathroom is impeccable. The floors are lined with a sleek hexagonal tile. There’s a stack of tissues by the sink that exist exclusively to dry your hands.

You can use as much Molton Brown soap as you want.

Cons: The bathrooms are on the top floor. By the time you actually get there you’ll have navigated hundreds of slow moving shoppers and three whole escalators. You’ll be sweaty, you’ll be drained, you’ll try to apply foundation to your forehead but your skin won’t allow it - you’ve perspired too much on the long journey up here.

You sit on the floor, dejected, considering life and all its promises and wonder how you

ended up here.

Overall score: 5/10

8. Any Starbucks


Pros: Starbucks bathrooms are renowned globally for being spacious. It’s their thing. They tend to come fully equipped with baby changing facilities (handy for propping up your makeup bag), and a long, vertical mirror that also has a soap dispenser stuck in the middle of it, for some reason.

Doing your makeup in a Starbucks bathroom is grand. You’ve got nobody in your way and/or looking over your shoulder as you struggle desperately to achieve that perfectly blended contour. It’s almost tranquil.

Cons: You’ll have to spend at least the price of a small cup of coffee to gain access to a Starbucks bathroom. This is fine.

What is not fine is when you’re trying to do your makeup and there’s a line of disgruntled customers waiting outside to use the toilet and there’s only one cubicle or something and you’re trying to shove a Naked pallette back into your bag but it won’t go in because they’re an awkward shape and when you finally leave everyone is mad at you, but hey, at least you look good.

Overall score: 5.5/10

7. Ilac Centre, Henry St.


Pros: The Ilac is great – it’s got an Sbarro pizza. It’s also got a pretty decent bathroom. If you’re in there and you don’t fancy rubbing shoulders with the 20 odd people trying to wash their hands while you’re putting on eyeliner, you can move to the far end of the bathroom where there tends to be more space, less humans, and this funky blue light thing that’s a bit weird but also kind of cool.

Cons: The ledge below the Ilac bathroom’s many mirrors is narrow. There may not be enough space for all of your stuff. You could be forgiven for standing idly by as your mascara tube rolls slowly into the sink. There’s nothing you can do. Just let it happen. This is your life


Overall score: 6.5/10

6. Arnotts, Henry St.


Pros: There’s a giant full length mirror in the upstairs Arnotts bathroom. This is great. There’s also a giant full wall mirror above the sinks in the upstairs Arnotts bathroom. This is even better.

The Arnotts bathroom is a place where you can relax, take a moment, and truly just be yourself. You could spend hours in there putting on makeup and nobody would challenge you. The other bathroom dwellers might even applaud your efforts. They’re sound like that.

Cons: Bit of a trek from the main store, unless you happen to be hanging out in the men’s outerwear section.

Overall score: 7/10

5. St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre


Pros: A spot separate from the sink area boasts a full wall length mirror and a decent sized ledge below it. It’s handy for keeping your makeup bag and/or that salad that you just grabbed downstairs from Chopped and are now forced to bring into the bathroom while you do your face. Both the salad, and your bottle of foundation, remain secure on the ledge.

Cons: Stephen’s Green charge 20c to use their bathrooms. This leaves you rooting around in your bag for some coins, in everybody’s way, while they undoubtedly glide ahead of you to secure a better spot at the mirror ledge.

Alternatively, you may choose to pretend that you didn’t see the coin box and waltz straight into the bathroom without paying. You’ll be filling in your brows and an intense sense of guilt will wash over you. You’re not a criminal, but you feel like one now.

Everybody’s looking at you. Do they know? You’ll ask yourself if it was worth it, and your 20c heavier purse will say yes, but your expertly highlighted cheekbones tell a different story.

Overall score: 7/10

4. McDonald’s, Grafton St.


Pros: There’s a keen sense of familiarity present in a McDonald’s bathroom that just doesn’t exist in other fast food restaurants. Maybe it’s the smell. Maybe it’s the colour scheme.

Maybe it’s the fact that you’ve definitely drunkenly peed there at least 18 times in the past 6 months.

Doing your makeup in a McDonald’s bathroom feels like coming home – and Grafton St McDonald’s is no different. There’s a mirror over every sink. There’s bangin’ tunes playing over the speakers. The hand dryers are more powerful than you can ever know.

Cons: McDonald’s is central, but its bathrooms are not. You’ll be wandering around its labyrinthine, narrow hallways for what feels like hours. You’ll probably bump into someone on your way out. You may drop your new Urban Decay setting spray. You’ll go to pick it up, they’ll go to pick it up, both of you will stop to let the other person pick it up but then nobody is picking it up. It’s a whole thing.

You leave feeling mildly embarrassed, but still looking great because the lighting up in the bathroom is decent enough. You grab a share box of McNuggets on your way out, and suddenly, everything is fine.

Overall score: 7.5/10

3. Jervis Shopping Centre, Henry St.


Pros: The bathrooms in the Jervis centre are huge. There’s about 2,000 cubicles. It’s mad. It’s also a fairly good shout for doing your makeup because of the handy little ledge and mirror area they’ve got going off to one side.

This area has been strategically placed away from the general hustle and bustle of the toilet/hand washing area, which means that nobody can tut and sigh when you are blatantly in the way and accidentally sprinkling highlighter powder all over the sink.

Next to this area, there’s also a small couch so you can take a little rest if you need one. It’s lovely.

Cons: It’s all very red.

Overall score: 8/10

2. The Gresham, O’Connell St.


Pros: The Gresham bathroom isn’t just a bathroom, it’s an experience. It doesn’t just have sinks, it has basins. It doesn’t just have lights, it has cute lamps that hang from ceiling looking all fancy and stuff. It doesn’t just have somewhere to do your makeup, it has a literal dressing table in the middle of the floor.

It’s a glorious, glorious place. You’ll wander in and wonder what exactly you’ve done to deserve such luxury. You’ll be putting on foundation and your skin will appear to glow. It won’t be though. It’s just the lighting. Don’t kid yourself.

Cons: It’s almost too beautiful, you know?

Overall score: 9/10

1. Debenhams, Henry St.


Pros: Floral themed artwork. A well thought out colour scheme. A comfortable seat. About 27 mirrors. These are just some of the things that you will find in the Debenhams bathroom.

Doing your makeup here is nothing short of ideal. It’s got it all – space, a nice sized ledge to put your things, chilled out vibe, and more. There is no limit to the number of fire #looks you could achieve in this bathroom – most of which would only be complimented by the aesthetics of the space itself.

After doing your makeup in Debenhams, you’ll emerge into the cold light of day feeling like you’ve achieved something. You won’t know what that something is, but it’ll be there, deep within you, illusive and wondrous. That feeling will last approximately 2 hours, before you are rudely transported back to the mundanities of everyday life. Your existence is futile, but the Debenhams bathroom? That makes it all worthwhile.

Cons: None. Bathroom perfection.

Overall score: 10/10

Honourable mention for:

  • Any Dublin Bus ever: Not a bathroom but still home to what may be the most dazzling lighting to ever exist on public transport. Perfect for doing your makeup in a hurry on a crisp morning or a busy night. Only costs a minimum fare of €2 (€1.50 on leap card).

Jade Hayden is a MA Journalism student, topical editor for HeadStuff.org, and Connoisseur of cheap wine and good burritos. 

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