Afternoon tea at a London cat cafe
Stars and Stripes September 5, 2023
“There behind you is Flo.” A small tortoise-shell colored cat is lounging on the shelf-like seatback to our bench, legs dangling carelessly over the cushion. “She’s having her best day out today. Her first break away from her kittens and she seems to be loving it,” says our server.
My daughter and I have just taken our little corner table at the Java Whiskers Cat Café Marylebone in London. We’re here for afternoon tea, that quintessential British tradition, but with a twist. This afternoon tea comes hosted in a room full of cats.
There is Flo, relaxing on my seatback, sisters Herdy and Gerdy sleeping indifferently in the re-purposed fireplace, Bubbles snuggled deep in a cat bed, and Shakira, Trex, and Blossom draped on sisal-covered shelving throughout the room. Then there is Gabrielle. This feisty girl is attacking the underside of a chair beside our table while the occupant keeps her sock-covered toes tucked high out of reach.
“She’s a wee gremlin,” my daughter says as Gabrielle suddenly twists her body and launches over a nearby table to the top of a painting and promptly plops down for a snooze.
“I’m shocked she’s still here,” chimes in the Java Whiskers employee. “She is so fun, everyone has such a great time playing with her, but we haven’t had adoption interest yet.” Gabrielle has been at the cat café since April, and while most cats who come through are adopted quickly, she has lingered for months and is lucky for it. All the cats at Java Whiskers are part of The Scratching Post Cat Rescue Organization, so teatime here benefits the charity.
Our tea service, complete with golden utensils and tiny cream pot, is brought out along with a three-tiered serving tray full of delicious nibbles.
“Starting at the bottom we have tuna mayo and pesto mozzarella tomato sandwiches, then lemon madeleines and, of course, scones with cream and jam, and at the top brownie bites, raspberry tarts, and macarons.”
It’s delicious. We drink tea, we chat and we have a great time petting and playing with the kitties. Eventually, Flo yawns and stretches from her perch on my seatback. I pet her head and she sniffs my finger. Perhaps she smells that tuna sandwich. She wanders off and we realize it’s our time to go as well.
Full of tea and treats, we put our shoes back on and say goodbye to our new kitty friends. I’m sure we will be back.
Next time you are in London, have a memorable afternoon tea at Java Whiskers café. There are two locations: in Marylebone and White City. Book ahead via their website. Note that children under 10 are not admitted, and those between 10 and 15 must have one adult present per two children. Timeslots are selected and range from 55 minutes to one hour and 55 minutes.