It’s always very interesting to see if two concepts that stand well on their own will work in collaboration with each other. Take oranges and jam, both good on their own, and together you have marmalade, a delicious spreadable substance. However take shoes and the beach and we ended up with Crocs. A dynamite combination of cake and kitties has been formed in a wondrous little place in Bethnal Green called Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, the first ‘cat cafe’ to open in the UK.
This kind of eatery is not new to the rest of the world, in fact the first one in the world opened in 1998 in Taiwan, but being the first to UK, and our great city, Lady Dinah’s is a unique experience. After being given the quick health and safety tips (which seemed like common sense, but we’re glad to see that they’re putting the animal’s welfare first), guests are permitted to wonder between the upper and lower floor, switching sofas and teasing the cats with the large array of toys that they have in the rooms. Being honest, they are often not the cuddliest of creatures, but they will wind around your legs occasionally, and they will usually play with a toy you give them, provided they’re not already being attended to or asleep. Then comes the cafe element of the experience. Nearly everywhere you look there are tiny neat menus, and the range of tea, coffee and cake that’s on offer is excellent. For any one fancy about their leaves, the tea is tasty, and they also have a range of savoury snacks available (not a full meal size, but definitely something that is worth the afternoon indulgence).
There are only two strong recommendations a person can make about Lady Dinah’s and the first is book ahead. The opening windows are always at least a month in advance, and you have to be pretty flexible with your time even if you get a slot. The best advice for this is to plan the rest of your day around the visit, rather than the other way around, in order to see the pretty sites of Shoreditch and attend your appointment with the kittens without any stress of being late. The other recommendation is that you must expect to have at least a little hair on you after departing. Even if every cat in the place is asleep or ignoring you, nearly all the sofa have cat hair on them (unsurprisingly), so don’t necessarily wear your best suit.
Overall, a visit to Lady Dinah’s is a real treat for all involved, with tea and comfy sofa sitting for all. Who knows? One of the kitties may even take a shine to you.