Good News for Travelers in Big Cities: Starbucks Bathrooms Open for Non-Customers

Written by Charlie

Good news for travelers headed for big cities! Now when you have “to go” you can use a Starbucks bathroom without being a customer! This should be a big help in cities like New York where bathrooms can be hard (or expensive) to find!

Edit: I edited the title since I had been thinking more about travelers in a moment of need. I recognize that this policy is going to wreak havoc in many Starbucks with people trashing the bathrooms and I hope there is a way to make a balance. Maybe like a $1 charge for the bathroom? The problem with placing an order first is if you have to go, you don’t want to wait in a line 13 people deep!

Last month, there was the bad situation in a Philadelphia Starbucks where two men were arrested for trespassing after being told that the bathrooms were only for paying customers and they had sat down. Starbucks has been working since then to repair that image and the most recent step is good news for all travelers!

Good News for Travelers Big Cities: Starbucks Bathrooms Open for Non-Customers

The chairman of Starbucks announced yesterday that Starbucks bathrooms are now open for anyone who needs them, regardless of whether they are a customer or not.

I know, this may seem like a strange post for a travel blog but if you have ever visited big cities like New York City, you know how difficult it can often be to find a bathroom! Most places in large cities (and even many medium cities) require you to be a customer in order to have access to the bathroom.

That policy works for the restaurant’s bottomline as I have bought things in those places before that I really didn’t want just because I had to use the bathroom so badly!

So, consider this more of a PSA the next time you frequent a big city or you need to relieve yourself and there are no public bathrooms in sight – all Starbucks bathrooms are available for non-customers as well. Since there are Starbucks on pretty much every other block in New York City, this is certainly good news!

I don’t mind buying a water at a place to use the bathroom, but when a water costs around $2, that is quite a price to use a bathroom! So, thank you, Starbucks!

Source: CNN Money

Featured image courtesy of Starbucks

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • It will just end up costing Starbucks more to maintain them in decent shape now that every “Tom, Dick and Harry” will be able to use them.

    • I definitely think that Starbucks will strive to keep them in good shape. But, I also do not think they are going to have a sign on the door telling anyone they can use the bathroom. They will still use keys or codes for many bathrooms so people will still need to ask. That will cut down on the people that would otherwise just walk into the bathroom.

  • many starbucks’ like the one at Astor Place NYC, are already half a homeless shelter. now this policy will degenerate it even further.

  • I personally will continue to buy a coffee to use their restroom. Business needs to make money.

    • That was a reason a local Salvation Army stopped having fitting rooms. People were using the corners of the rooms as urinals.

  • Or I normally leave $1 tip if I don’t want to by anything, even in very rural places.

  • I’ve always considered it a “right” as an American to use the bathrooms of MacDonald’s around the world. Guess we can now add Starbucks to the list.

    • You consider it a “right” to use the restroom of a business you can’t even spell properly? No need to make other Americans look entitled and ignorant at the same time…

  • I used to work at Starbucks. This has **always** been the official policy of the company– with the exception that individual stores with special circumstances (i.e. stores that had been taken over by the homeless) were allowed to set their own rules.

    Literally all that’s changed today is that stores that have become Turkish baths for hobos have had their hands tied. I get why corporate changed the policy for PR reasons, but this will absolutely destroy big-city Starbucks. This is not in any way “good news”; it’s a death knell.

  • Ohhh of course the trendy politically correct answer is to applaud this.

    The reality is it’ll lead to increased use and longer waits since so many are single person units. And maintenance is going to be a bigger challenge.

    Id prefer to buy a $3 cup of coffee and have no wait for a clean toilet.

    • I’m not “applauding” this for political correctness. I really don’t care about being politically correct. As a traveler, I like the idea of knowing that the familiar Starbucks symbol is a place I can run into to use the bathroom quickly – without having to stand in line for 15 minutes first. Will I buy something on the way out? Sure, sometimes.
      Good luck with the “no wait” at places in some big cities!

  • I will bet money this policy changes in less than 12 months. Sorry, but I don’t want to hang out at a Starbucks if it becomes a quasi homeless shelter.

    • I very much agree…unfortunately. In cities like SF, human waste found on city streets is an epidemic. This hopefully will help solve the issue, but could hurt their bottom line. I don’t see this lasting long in metro areas.