Pampered pooches will love everything about West London – and so will their owners. The boutique stores of Kensington and Chelsea stock everything from designer toys to super-chic clothing. But there’s a lot more to this cosmopolitan corner of the capital than just the shops. Step away from the hustle and bustle and you’ll soon find yourself wandering quiet leafy lanes, taking a riverside stroll – or even dipping a toe in the water yourself.
WHAT ARE THE MUST-SEES? Well, you can’t take your dog to West London and not visit City Paws Club. It’s the UK’s first canine activity centre and although it offers doggy daycare and boarding facilities, the focus is on adventure and fun. There aren’t many places in London – or dare I say, the world – where you can take your dog pack-running, kayaking or paddleboarding with the assistance of an Olympic athlete.
Trial sessions on the River Thames are great fun and take around two-and-a-half hours, costing £60 per human and dog duo. The price includes expert instruction from a Team GB kayaker, lifejackets, equipment and post-session coffee and cake. Additional humans cost an extra £29.
If you’re keen to shop, check out the antique stalls on Portobello Road or the high-end brands at Liberty on Regent Street, where dogs are welcome. Upmarket pet brand Mungo & Maud has a concession in Harrods that’s well worth visiting or, if you’re the market for toys and treats, pop down to Purple Bone in Notting Hill Gate. Just make sure you’re packing plastic!
Many historic buildings, houses and museums are located in this part of the capital too but, while they’re lovely to look at, dogs are not allowed inside any of them. Kensington Palace, the Royal Albert Hall, the Natural History Museum and the V&A Museum are among the key attractions.
WHERE’S GOOD FOR WALKIES? Like any capital city, London gets very busy at times and can be quite overwhelming. My advice is to head for the hills – quite literally – or any of the green spaces London has been blessed with.
Hyde Park is one of eight Royal Parks in the city and covers a whopping 350 acres. Dogs are welcome throughout but it’s best to keep them on a lead in certain areas – just use your judgement.
Take in the Diana Memorial Fountain, watch the open water swimmers in the Serpentine or just admire the lakeside views from one of the waterside cafés. Lancaster Gate, Hyde Park Corner and Marble Arch are among the closest Tube stations.
Kensington Gardens and Holland Park, with its beautiful Japanese garden, are also well worth a visit. See if you can spot Prince Harry and Meghan or Kate and Wills and their dogs – they all live nearby in Kensington Palace.
BEST PLACE TO GRAB A BITE? Be seduced by the twinkling fairy lights at Megan’s in Fulham. The Kings Road restaurant is super dog-friendly and there’s a lovely garden where you can dine al fresco if the weather is good. Visiting at the weekend? Then don’t miss the bottomless brunch – it’s £18 for unlimited Pimm’s, Prosecco or Bloody Megans when you purchase a main meal.
Wulf & Lamb in Chelsea is a great choice for veggies and vegans. It’s a relative newcomer to the London food scene but its 100% plant-based menu is taking the city by storm. The Pavilion Road restaurant welcomes dogs and if you pop in, I can heartily recommend the Chili “Non” Carne with cashew cream (£12.95). Delicious.
If you have a sweet tooth, make sure you swing by Outsider Tart in Chiswick High Road. This all-American café serves up delicious cupcakes, sweet pies and fresh tarts – and dogs are just as well catered for at the “barkery“. Here, you can pick up “pupcakes” and several different biscuit flavours, from peanut butter to beef for £4.50 a bag.
BrewDog in Shepherd’s Bush is worth a look if craft beer is your thing, too. It has more than 40 ales on tap as well as bottles and cans, not to mention vintage arcade machines. Dogs are always welcome in BrewDog pubs. Hell, they can even buy shares in the brewery, if they so wish! Check it out.
WHERE SHOULD I STAY? West London has a whole host of properties to suit all budgets. If you’re after a 5* experience, check out Egerton House Hotel in Knightsbridge – the staff love dogs and you’ll be spoilt rotten. They even offer a doggy afternoon tea.
If your budget won’t stretch that far, you can’t go wrong with a stay at Safestay London Kensington Holland Park. It may be a hostel but please don’t let that put you off. This one is housed in a beautifully refurbished building where dogs are welcome in a couple of the private en-suite rooms. Both properties are perfectly placed to explore London – read my reviews here.
GET ME THERE: Dogs travel free on trains and buses in London. Plan your journey by checking out the city’s transport maps here. Dogs are also welcome on the MBNA Clippers, which speed along the River Thames from Woolwich in East London to Putney in the West. For more information about the routes, timetables and prices, click here.