I absolutely love cats. I have fully embraced my inevitable destiny as a so-called “crazy cat lady”. At the moment I can’t have any of my own, though, due to renting and moving around a lot, so when I heard last year that Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, London’s first cat cafe, was opening in Shoreditch, I instantly added it to my travel to-do list.
Lady Dinah’s is a beautiful cafe spread over two floors on Bethnal Green Road. While you enjoy a light lunch or a cake with something delicious from the extensive hot drinks menu, the twelve resident cats wander around, come to see you for a fuss, or snooze (they do a lot of that!).
Lady Dinah’s set out very clearly on their site what to expect from your time here. The welfare of the cats is of course their highest priority, so visitors are gently reminded when they arrive not to wake a sleeping feline or to try to feed them anything. It’s essentially up to the cats to decide whether they want attention and engagement or not, and if they don’t, you simply enjoy having them around. The staff never have the place full; again, this is primarily for the welfare of the cats, but also means customers can move around to see them and are free to wander to another spare seat. All of these measures make for a lovely and peaceful atmosphere.
The food and drink is great too; choose from a bagel, croissant, or (delicious) gluten-free sandwich, one of their many cake options, and a range of teas, coffees and hot chocolates. It’s all beautifully presented, and their “specials” are almost too cute to drink!
The staff are very smiley and friendly and clearly love working with the cats. It all felt very relaxed and we weren’t “hurried out” at the end of our 90 minute session.
The moggies were all very sleepy during our visit, so although they did mooch around a bit and we did go over to see some of them, mostly we spent the time enjoying our lunch and soaking up the atmosphere; it was almost like visiting a cat-owning friend and appreciating the feline company. It was a lovely way to spend the morning and I’d definitely go back…if I could get in! Lady Dinah’s is understandly immensely popular, and although they are now offering some walk-in slots, to guarantee getting in (especially at the weekend) you really need to book in advance.
Now if only I could persuade my boss that we need an office cat…