Following feedback from many dog owners who’ve ventured into Central London with their beloved pooches and struggled to find dog-friendly places, I felt compelled to recommend a few businesses where you’ll feel welcome with your 4-legged loved ones.
So starting with trains, you’ll probably be surprised to hear that dogs are allowed on board. It may sound like teaching you how to suck eggs but the first thing I would recommend is to take care when stepping onto escalators as dogs don’t have this skill. I got into the habit of picking my first dog up, which became a struggle with every kilo he put on. But once I got my second one the focus went into finding a lift instead…
A lot of station staff will point you towards the larger barriers when they see you coming with dogs so as to avoid the tighter ones. Once you’re on board, be aware that many floor areas can get really warm. We may not notice it but our dogs will. On buses, Oscar and Ollie love sitting on the luggage racks! Not only is it cooler up there, but they can see outside and enjoy the journey. Some people will give you funny looks but the majority will smile and even come over for a cuddle. The dogs might get one too…
Once in Central London, I would head straight to Soho or Chinatown. There are many pedestrianised streets or simply quieter roads with limited traffic, so you’ll walk more freely without constantly worrying about cars and motorbikes. These areas are spoilt for choice when it comes to pubs and cafés, some more inviting than others. Pop into The Crown & Two Chairmen – on the corner of Dean St and Bateman St – and you’re sure to be welcomed with a friendly smile. They even have their own dog Max who is friendly and adorable!
If you managed to resist a bite there, then perhaps make your way to Andrew Edmunds, a restaurant described as “one of the last bastions of old Soho”. From the outside, it looks small and unassuming. Once inside, you’ll get the feeling that you’re in a posh restaurant. In reality, it’s both! And that is exactly its charm. The food is delicious and the presentation is unfussy. It’s not a cheap restaurant but the quality and ambience more than make up for it. We have taken our dogs there and shared the dining room with other well-behaved canines. Our top tip is the wines list: you’ll be impressed by the variety on offer, including some very modestly-priced vintages…
Skip coffee so you have an excuse to go elsewhere! One of my favourite haunts is Fernandez & Wells in Lexington St, a former townhouse turned boutique turned coffeeshop. My first ever contact with them was over the phone while I was researching dog-friendly businesses for this very site. F&W’s answer? “Dog-friendly? Oh absolutely! We’re very enthusiastic about dogs!” And they were. Before you get your coffee and cake, the dogs get a bowl of water. Try their mini flat white, served in what they call Stumpy, a 5.5oz glass trademarked by F&W. Their espresso blend beans and filter coffee are also available to buy.
Do you let dogs in?
Now for a nice walk past all the shops on Oxford St to stretch your legs, or cut through Carnaby St to enjoy a slightly quieter experience. It took me a while to believe that Liberty’s department store on Regent St and Great Marlborough St was dog-friendly. This was until I popped in with the boys. Staff often come out of their counters to say hi and show a genuine interest in Oscar and Ollie. My only fear is going anywhere near the crockery section – their tails are lethal! Other than that, even the café on the top floor will allow them in. Try their cocktails and you won’t be disappointed! Liberty’s sells luxury items for men, women and children. But they offer articles for most pockets.
If you’ve had enough to eat, drink and shop, then don’t forget to let your pooch have a little run off lead before heading back home. A lot of the parks in the West End are strict and won’t allow dogs unless they’re in leashes. This is mainly due to the sheer number of people always out and about. My secret spot is St Anne’s Churchyard, on Wardour St, also off Shaftesbury Avenue. Even though over the years there have been signs there asking owners to keep dogs under control, it’s a really quiet park with hardly anybody around. A 5 or 10 minute run around will ensure a relaxed journey home, especially after all physiological needs are met.
Head home either by bus, tube or train, but don’t forget to lift the little (or not so little) ones, especially where there are big gaps between trains and platforms.
For more ideas and recommendations, try:
Bars & Pubs – https://www.letmydogin.co.uk/bars-pubs/
Restaurants – https://www.letmydogin.co.uk/restaurants/
Photos and videos of your dogs, as well as business reviews, are always welcome on our Facebook and Instagram accounts
Finally, if you’d like to write a piece for our monthly blog, all it needs to be is dog-related and dog-friendly.
Top contributors in the last month:
1 – Jeff Hookway
2 – Teresa Keohane
3 – Anitta Autumn
4 – Naomi Dunleavy
5 – Alec De Falaise Hilton