There are many venues that claim to be the best in London - famous museums, high-end restaurants, cozy pubs and other popular London landmarks all clamor to claim the crown. Take a walk around the city and you'll find no short supply of classy eateries with expensive entrees and crowded pubs filled with eager weekend warriors. Renting a car in London will give you full access to what is rightfully considered one of the most popular destinations in the world and a little research will bring you to some fantastic places to live like a local. An emerging trend, though, offers a venue where patrons can socialize with animals and people alike.
Have Coffee with a Cat or Imbibe with an Owl
Ever reveled in the joy of a friend's pet, who's company you can enjoy in short bursts without the commitment and responsibility of full-time ownership? So have we; and so have many others, apparently, as the concept has birthed an explosively successful business in London's Shoreditch neighborhood.
Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium has affectionately been dubbed as London's first cat café and an astonishing public response cemented the establishment in place as one of London's hottest hangouts last summer. Built upon the example of similar cat-themed attractions in Japan, where cat fandom has reached a mania of epic proportions, the UK version is pleasantly quaint and elegantly furnished. A calm atmosphere and traditional British décor adorn the humbly homey space, where carpeted catwalks and platforms along the walls provide places to roam and nap for the dozen or so rescued felines that reside in the café. The novel idea brought in over 7,000 reservations within just 24 hours of opening almost one year ago and appointments still remain elusive to this day.
The curious concept of offering animal interaction in casual refreshment venues has been branching out to other parts of the animal kingdom, too. This week marked the grand, albeit brief, opening of a pop-up Owl Bar set to operate in the SoHo area, nestled between London Victoria rail station and King's Cross station, for one week. Unlike Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, the Owl Bar will be carefully curated by professional falconers who will look after the safety of the six birds to be featured at the event. Attendees are still invited to get up close and pet the owls despite the heightened level of security, but the atmosphere is sure to be more like that of an exhibition than a casual hangout. Proceeds from the Owl Bar will go directly to conservation charities for the animals so guests can rest assured that the spectacle will contribute to a good cause beyond mere entertainment.
Novel Noshing Beyond the Norm
Yes, the cat café and owl bar are great places to experience a unique niche of British culture outside of your everyday pub or tavern and, luckily for those who just can't get enough quirk, there are plenty of other wonderfully unusual spots to visit.
Feel like reliving those childhood memories of Saturday morning cartoons and your favorite breakfast time (or anytime) delicacy? Treat yourself to a selection of over 100 varieties of classic cereals and more than a dozen different types of milk and toppings at Cereal Killer Cafe, a new café featuring that delicious staple of nostalgic youth opened on London's Brick Lane this December. The trendy space is decked out with wistful cereal memorabilia from years past giving a delightfully vintage ambiance to go with your favorite breakfast food. Patrons are tempted with everything from classics like Frosted Flakes and Cheerios to pop tarts and gourmet coffee; whatever you need to satisfy your early morning sweet tooth! This food isn't just for breakfast, though, as the café stays open until 8pm to offer a truly unique cereal experience for visitors day or night.
Keep an eye out for an iconic red double-decker bus if you're in the mood for pizza on the go. The cleverly named Crust Conductor recently hit the streets of London this year to redefine the traditional food truck. This tricked-out tour bus features an onboard pizza oven, cocktail bar, and even a live DJ to brighten up the mood. Diners can get their pizza to go or take advantage of the upper deck seating for a prime view of passerbys below in a venue that's anything but ordinary. Although the Crust Conductor doesn't operate while moving, it contributes a uniquely offbeat element to the roster of eccentric eateries that are quickly becoming some of the best in London.