Getting a reservation at this place is hard, the weekend dates book up very quickly and lunch times are gone within seconds of the day being released! If you do want a reservation for the weekend at the Cat Cafe then you just need to book 50 days in advance. Each date is released 50 days in advance at 8am, at this point every time for that day should be available. The problem arises when you try and book for say 10 days away – however, there are occasions when they get cancellations and these are advertised via Twitter.
Life at Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium is taken at cat pace – laid back and relaxed.
The cafe is very much run around the cats and this is what makes it such a special place. I have always grown up with cats in our family home so bringing my mum and dad along for the trip seemed like the perfect fit. For your reservation you get 90 minutes at your table, we arrived early to ensure we could enjoy every minute possible. Upon arrival they have a door system which ensures none of the cats can escape onto the busy road outside. You are asked to wash your hands and reminded of the rules they have. These are all simple common sense things like not waking up the cats which are sleeping.
Our table was downstairs with two huge sofas next to a large coffee table, this instantly set the tone of the cafe for me. It was more like being invited to the cats home and living area rather than sitting at a formalised dinner setting which you get in some cafes. Looking at the drinks menu, I instantly knew I wanted a mug of white hot chocolate however the food choice took a little more time. Although they have to keep food preparation away from the cats I was impressed with the large menu of small bites and cake. Lunch had been early so we opted for three ploughman’s between four of us. However, they were huge and we would easily have been full with just the two – the menu did suggest sharing them but the men of our party were hungry.
The food and drink were delicious, although it did take a while to receive our drinks. I soon realised this was because they waited until the food was ready, until they served everything together. Throughout our time there we chatted with several waitresses about how long they had worked there, the cats and Lady Dinahs in general. These only confirmed more my first impressions: the cafes focus was the cats and everything revolved around them. It was good knowing the cats are so well looked after and cared for despite being the focus of peoples visits. We heard stories of how cats who don’t settle are re-homed and how the most important thing is for the cats to all live happily together. They were very strict on the rules and we saw several people being told off for waking the sleeping kittens. There was a safe room in the back which cats could be taken to if they showed any kind of distress or if visitors wouldn’t leave them alone.
It seemed like the waitresses job was no only to take orders and serve food but to also look after the cats and encourage them to play with the guests. I noticed several times the staff telling guests what particular cats liked to play and encouraging them to do so. I also liked that there was always one member of staff downstairs with the cats and guests, this really meant the cats were getting the care they needed. The only downside to the staff being so cat involved meant they were a little slow with the waitressing and we ordered a second round of drinks which we never received. Still I’m not going to judge them on this because I went for the experience with the cats not for super fast drinks service.
I would say the trip to Lady Dinah’s was totally worth it and very much like I imagined. The only let down would be we chose a 4.30pm booking slot, a prime nap time for cats and so most of them were asleep during our visit.
Lady Dinah’s is located in the Shoreditch/Brick Lane area of London and is easily walkable from the Shoreditch Overground station.
You can book a table on their website up to 50 days before your visit, you cannot visit the cafe without a reservation.
There is a £6 charge per a person for each visit to help with the cost of running. However, the price of food and drink inside is very reasonable and even cheap for London.