I FEEL a mixture of excitement and disappointment when I pull up outside the Lawlor Hotel.
Excited because it looks perfect for a relaxing staycation. Disappointed because I won’t be staying here tonight.
That’s because the Lawlor is one of the UK’s first five-star cat hotels, and today I’m chauffeuring my moggie Melch to his luxury quarters for the evening.
Owner Jane Lawlor is waiting at reception. “Lord Melchet?” she asks as she recognises Melch from the picture I emailed her when I booked.
I hand over his vaccination records — a must for all guests — and Jane says: “Well, Mr Melchet, we are happy to have you stay.”
She shows him to his room, The Douglas Suite, — which, for £25 a night comes equipped with luxury bunk beds, a velour sofa, hideaway box and a new scratching post.
The room also features a huge window overlooking the countryside. “He’ll find the view very relaxing,” Jane tells me.
Indeed, after sniffing around his suite, Melch sits in front of the window with a look of apparent wonder on his little ginger face.
Then Jane tells me it’s time for his appointment at the spa. From de-matting treatments for £40 to lion-cut hairstyling at £85, the grooming packages offer everything your cat might want from a spa. So I’m told.
There are cat manicures on the menu and even calming cat washes.
After all, this is Brentwood, in Essex, and looking good is pretty much a given. Eventually Melch comes to terms with the idea of being groomed and seems to relax and enjoy being fussed over.
Spa done, it’s down to the fish bar, where Jane flourishes three trays of delights that wouldn’t look out of place on any human restaurant table.
Melch is very much a dry biscuit and Whiskas kind of guy. But left to his own devices he samples the exotic food on offer, which includes prawn and crayfish tian — a light gratin — and “bridge” of lobster tail with a caviar dressing at £10 per 50g.
After having his fill, Melch decides to recline on one of the plush armchairs in the fish bar area.
It has been a long day, and Melch is looking weary. He can barely keep his eyes open as he enjoys the attention of Jane and hotel manager Kim.
Wrapped up in a dressing gown, Melch is enjoying a relaxing sprawl on a decadent leather armchair.
As I prepare to head off, I realise I am slightly nervous about leaving my little mate by himself in a new place. Jane reassures me, then reminds me of the CCTV in each suite. The cameras are accessible from anywhere in the world, so owners can check on their pets whenever they want.
And so I find myself sitting on the single bed in my nearby hotel room, snacking on crisps and watching Melch lord it up.
À La Cat Menu
- Smoked Salmon
- Dublin Bay Prawns Cream Cheese & Caviar Canape
- Sauteed tiger prawns
- Lobster with caviar dressing
- Bacon-wrapped monkfish
- Poached dover sole
- Beluga caviar
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Hotel owner Jane is bubbly, welcoming, and by her own admission, slightly bonkers. A successful career in finance and property development enabled her to open her dream location with an initial offering of eight suites. Three years down the line, business is booming. The hotel now has 23 suites.
Picking up Melch after his staycation, I’m nervous that his not-quite-so-luxury bed at home will no longer be up to his new standards.
But one look at his face and I can see he is still the same old Melch — just now slightly better presented, sweeter smelling and having had a brief experience of the high life.
The Douglas Suite comes with lux bunk beds, a velour sofa, hideaway box and a new scratching post[/caption]
Lawlor is one of the UK’s first five-star cat hotels[/caption]
The hotel in the Essex countryside is the Ritz for kits[/caption]
Melch at the spa with hotel owner Jane Lawlor[/caption]
The kitty watches other feline guests on the hotel’s CCTV[/caption]
Pete worries his pet’s expectations will go through the roof after his posh stay[/caption]
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