Cats, stress and cafés

This can be a difficult time of year: everyone’s ‘running on empty’, summer holidays are a distant memory, the days are darker, winter is upon us while the prospect of Christmas can represent both pleasure and pressure.

Perhaps not surprisingly then, we’re beginning to see openings of cafés which offer the chance to de-stress.

One of the most unusual is the London Cat Village in Shoreditch where you can book an hour to drink coffee and eat cake while the establishment’s feline residents alternatively laze around or get active on wooden tree towers.

Research has shown that petting a cat can lower your blood pressure while only last week the Swedish Science for Life Laboratory published research which claimed to confirm that dog owners are less likely to suffer premature death. Unfortunately, at the London Cat Village – in common with some other leisure establishments – there is a strict ‘no touch’ policy.

For non-pet lovers, there is also the new Yeotown Kitchen in Marylebone. It’s an offshoot of the North Devon retreat spa of the same name and alongside a ‘thoughtfully-concocted food and beverage menu’, its two-level space includes mood-boosting meditation pods where you can ‘nurture the mind and spirit’. Customers can recharge with five-minute guided meditations including The Bravery Break (‘for a boost of courage’), The Beauty Break (‘to encourage self-love and finding beauty within’) and The Brain Break (‘soothe anxiety, gain better clarity’).

It’s opened opposite the über trendy Chiltern Street Firehouse and is also just around the corner from our offices so may become a hang-out for both stressed celebrities and chartered surveyors. An interesting mix to be sure.

However, the point that connects these two cafes is that we’re now seeing a development of concepts that are geared to the personalities and needs of the people who use them rather than simply the inherent quality of the food and drink offer. Driven by the big coffee store chains, cafés have proliferated to an astonishing extent in the past decade. While the giants will continue to serve the needs of the masses, the challenge for more niche outlets will be about differentiation rather than just the quality of what they put in your cup and on your plate.