Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium, located on Bethnal Green Road in East London, is the city’s first cat cafe. A sensation that first got huge in Taiwan and Japan, the idea is that diners can enjoy some food and drink with the extra joy of being surrounded by cats who are relaxed in their environment.
Sounds perfect, right? Thankfully, Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium actually lives up to the hype that has built since its Kick Starting.
On both first and lasting impressions, the cafe’s design and layout is inspired. It is simplistic, with a small shop at the entrance, a buffering zone and then two floors for both cats and diners to spread out and wander over. But it is also interesting, with some genius cat hidey-holes, stairs and platforms made of shelves, hammocks, a giant cat wheel, and a mish mash of sofas, stools and chairs. It even mixes traditional and minimalistic styles, with antique chairs downstairs and a white, modernistic vibe upstairs.
An important thing for the emporium to get right is the food – its unofficial name is the “cat cafe” after all, and you need both bits for it to work. I’m happy to report that although the menu is currently small due to a change in suppliers, there is an excellent cream tea and some scrumptious cakes and cupcakes.
It’s a shame there wasn’t more gluten free stuff – we were told that the gluten free scones were gone from the menu because no one ordered them – but there were a couple of sweet options to sate my mum’s appetite.
Finally – onto the cats themselves, who are absolutely gorgeous. There are 11 in total, meaning that although some are likely to be asleep and you are forbidden from waking them, there will always be some awake too. I got to play extensively with two in particularly – the black kitten Loki and the lovely girl Carbonelle – and using one of the strategically placed toys I darted around with a piece of string, entertaining them, myself and other diners.
As everyone there was a total cat person, it was the friendliest atmosphere I’ve ever experienced in a cafe. Everyone was happy to share remarks about the cats, share around the toys and point out the ones that were sleeping and slightly hidden. This made it a lovely place to have lunch.
This all added up to make it well worth a visit and the £5 cover charge – get booking now or keep an eye on their Twitter for a last minute cancellation session, like we did.