Planning a trip to the capital, but don’t want to leave the most important member of the family at home? Emma Hughes pulls together the ultimate Country Life guide to dog-friendly London. Illustrations by Sholto Walker.
There’s nowhere like London in the spring. From the early-morning dew in Hyde Park to the cherry blossom fluttering over St James’s and Piccadilly’s captivating windows, the capital is steeped in a very special kind of magic at this time of year. Even the most urban-avoidant among us find it hard to resist the lure of a trip to the capital, but Bramble and Teasel are better off staying at home, surely?
Not necessarily. More Londoners than ever now own dogs (approaching 10% at the last count) and the city’s stance on them has softened to accommodate the influx.
‘Things have changed so much since Lily arrived in my life 15 years ago,’ admits Hampstead-based Henrietta Morrison, founder of Lily’s Kitchen, the ethical pet-food company she named after her border terrier (she now has a second, Lulu). ‘I used to feel a bit of a leper and I was rarely able to bring her into shops or pubs and cafes. Now, most places are dog-friendly and offer a bowl of water. It’s really brilliant to see.’
Whether you’re planning a long weekend in the big smoke or a quick dash around W1, here’s where to sleep, shop, sip and sup with a canine in tow. Everywhere we’ve listed welcomes them – and London’s dogs are ready to greet their country cousins with open paws.
Hit the shops
If you’re planning to go shopping avec chien, your best bet, believe it or not, is a department store. Fenwick welcomes dogs of all shapes and sizes and Liberty is also pooch-friendly (it’s an urban legend that the store has a ‘nothing bigger than an Italian greyhound’ rule, says a spokesperson, who confirms that ‘the behaviour of the dog, rather than size, is the most important factor’).
View this post on Instagram
Design guru Cath Kidston is a devoted dog-owner (Sealyham terrier Billie has popped up in her work), so it’s no surprise that all of her London stores welcome four-legged friends and Barbour, naturally, does too – while you’re there, sign up for its Dog’s Life loyalty scheme.
Marylebone High Street oases SpaceNK and The Conran Shop are open to dogs of all shapes and sizes (just watch out for waggy tails at display-clearing height) and, over on Bond Street, Anya Hindmarch is impeccably dog-friendly.
Eating and drinking
‘When it comes to dogs, I so envy the French and the way that they integrate them into city life, with all their foibles and idiosyncrasies,’ says The Wolseley’s co-owner Jeremy King, whose cockapoo Theodora (Teddy for short) accompanies him to work.
In a bid to end banishment to pavement tables, he and business partner Chris Corbin have pro-canine policies at two of their restaurants: at Bellanger, their Alsacienne brasserie in Islington, dogs who fail to snaffle some choucroute can console themselves with biscuits baked each day in the kitchen; canine regulars pop up on Instagram under the #houndsofbellanger hashtag. Sister restaurant Colbert on Sloane Square, meanwhile, rolls out the red carpet for dogs in the bar and on the terrace.
View this post on Instagram
Then there’s Soho legend Andrew Edmunds, in a higgledy-piggledy, Hogarthian town house on Lexington Street, which is as accommodating of dogs as it is of artists and literary greats – lurchers in raffish neckerchiefs doze while their owners demolish bottles of claret.
Heading west, Bluebird makes a great pit-stop for tired paws on the King’s Road (dogs get a goodie bag of treats, but that won’t stop them staring longingly at the steak tartare) and, over in Fulham, the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms is legendarily dog-friendly – expect to end up sharing your venison Scotch egg.
If your train home leaves from Waterloo, all-day restaurant The Green Room at the National Theatre is handy (it also does a dog-friendly bottomless brunch at the weekend – good news for greedy labradors).
Crossing the city with your dog needn’t turn into an agility course. ‘Being on the Tube is so different now – there’s barely a trip we do that doesn’t involve a lot of belly rubbing and stroking from fellow passengers,’ says Henrietta. All dogs must be carried on the escalators – if yours is too big to lift, you can use the Transport for London’s online Plan a Journey tool to find a route to your destination that lets you use stairs or lifts instead (just click on ‘Edit Preferences’ and tick ‘Use stairs, not escalators’).
Licensed black cabs take dogs at the driver’s discretion: if you want to make absolutely sure yours will, hail it through the MyTaxi app and call ahead when you book to check they’re happy with Badger or Kipling hopping in the back.
Out and about
Whether you’re yomping over Hampstead Heath on the way to a nearby dog-friendly pub (such as The Wells, where dogs get their own menu, or The Red Lion & Sun) or zooming up and down Primrose Hill, central London’s parks make for engaging terrain between appointments. Need reinforcements? Send for Bone Rangers, one of the few walking services with Zone 1 expertise.
If you’re making a weekend of it, the company will happily pick up your pup and take them on a one-to-one adventure in one of the Royal Parks. ‘There’s a lot of variety and abundance in the urban environment,’ says founder Kate Richards, whose favourite spot for walking is Regent’s Park (‘elegant, full of flowers, regal’).
Clubland as a whole is iffy about dogs, but those who regularly travel to (or through) the capital might want to apply for membership at George, the Hockney-bedecked club overlooking Mount Street in W1 (its late founder Mark Birley was a famous dog lover, who named his Battersea rescue Help so he could stand in Berkeley Square shouting ‘Help! Help!’). It has a busy calendar of dog-friendly events. ‘Back in October, we welcomed dozens of dogs (and their owners) for a canine canapé or two while raising vital funds for the Dogs Trust,’ says membership manager Carolin Rist.
There’s also Quo Vadis, Dean Street’s louche grande dame – members share the plush upstairs rooms with a selection of four-legged regulars, who co-exist peacefully with the martini trolley.
Where to stay
Pearl the resident retriever may have retired to the Highlands, but the Rosewood on High Holborn is still one of the best places in London for dogs and their owners to base themselves.
Four-legged guests get their own bed, welcome treats and bowls for water and food, as well as recommendations for the best local places to eat and drink. Lincoln’s Inn Fields is just around the corner and staff will happily organise a walker or a sitter.
Mayfair’s Dukes is famous for its generous martinis, but dogs are just as well catered for. They get a bed and a soft toy, plus access to walking, sitting and grooming services, a vet on call and two freshly prepared meals a day – and instead of a chocolate on their pillow, they’ll get a turndown treat. Not to be outdone, Gilbert Scott’s St Pancras Renaissance Hotel has its own dedicated dog butler (Jeeves and Woofster?) and offers a special package designed to help dogs feel at home in the big smoke.
They have a starry following, but characterful Tibetan terriers are still a well-kept secret. Emma Hughes meets the best dog
Stylish canines have long been a duke's or duchess's best friend, as Matthew Denison found out.