In my search to find the most enjoyable activities in Edinburgh, I ran across the newly opened Chihuahua Cafe. What could be better than cuddling eight small dogs for an hour? In my opinion, not much. Edinburgh’s Chihuahua Cafe just might be the happiest place in town, especially judging by the massive smiles that all the patrons leave with.
What is a Dog Cafe
In 1998, the first cat cafe opened up in Taiwan. Its massive success prompted them to open up all over the world. As can be expected, cafes for other animals soon followed. Although there doesn’t seem to be any clear reference where or when the first dog cafe opened, in December 2017, Scotland saw the opening of its first dog cafe. Chihuahua Cafe is aptly named for the eight rambunctious chihuahuas who run around and entertain the patrons.
Cat and dog cafes (not to mention rabbits, ferrets, birds, snakes and even goats) are usually organized with the animals from a single owner. They often have to follow strict animal laws in the country they belong to, and the cafe environment is organized for the best treatment of the animals. After all, they are the pets of the owner, and no one wants their pets to be mistreated.
The Story Behind Chihuahua Cafe
Edinburgh’s Chihuahua Cafe is the brainchild of Tanya. She wanted to share the joy she receives from her eight chihuahuas with the world. Ama was her first dog. After adopting seven more, she conditioned her dogs into being around other humans by bringing them to different social events. Finally, it was time to open the cafe. Securing a space in Edinburgh’s historic New Town (this quarter is over 400 years old), the cafe opened its doors in December 2017, making it the second animal cafe in Edinburgh after the Maison de Moggy Cat Cafe in the Old Town and first dog cafe in Scotland (second in the UK behind Newcastle).
Tanya has a team of staff, including her mom, who help with the dogs. This includes resetting the cafe between each session, serving guests and walking the dogs in the nearby Princes Street Gardens. The cafe also offers an AirB&B Experience to walk the Chihuahuas in the gardens from time to time.
The ABC’s of Chihuahua Cafe
All eight chihuahuas at the cafe are girls. Just to make it easy, they are named alphabetically. Unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like Irina or Iona will be joining the pack anytime soon.
Ama is the founding member of the cafe and the eldest at 5 years old. I spotted her immediately as I walked in with the mini tennis ball in her mouth. She alternated between chasing after her ball and relaxing. She’s distinctive with her long black and tan hair. DOB – 04/11/12
A word of warning – Bee loves giving kisses! Prepare to receive tons of affection from this white chihuahua. She also loves attention and will jump into any of the games the other dogs are playing. DOB – 02/11/16
Perhaps the most independent of the dogs, Cleo didn’t interact with me a lot. The one time I took notice of her was when she was at the bottom of the doggy pile – literally. DOB – 25/11/16
Although she’s a girl, the Duchess seems to be the alpha. Well, that could possibly have something to do with visiting on her birthday as she received the royal treatment in her birthday dress. She certainly got the lion’s share of doggy birthday cake. DOB – 08/02/17
Also known as Sassy Pants and Elsa May, this snow queen was the poser. She was always getting in front of the camera and standing regally. It’s easy to identify her lilac coat. DOB – 02/02/17
When they say that Fae Fae is the diva, they’re not kidding. Whenever my hand was idle on the ground, she went over an sat on it, expect another massage. She absolutely loves cuddles and would position herself on everyone’s knee to receive them. DOB – 10/03/17
This cutie is often likened to a Golden Retriever by her mom. She loves her toys and sometimes would just sit quietly beside me with one in her mouth. Although she might not be named after a queen, she could pose just as well as Elsa. DOB – 02/03/17
It’s almost impossible to pick one dog as cutest above the rest, but if I had to it would probably be Hepburn – AKA Red. I think she might have also been the smallest (hard to judge when you’re talking about Chihuahuas). DOB – 14/03/17 (the youngest)
Book at the Chihuahua Cafe
The cafe is located at 15 Frederick St above the Boozy Cow Restaurant in Edinburgh’s New Town. There are seven 50-minute sessions available from Thursday to Monday (Tuesday and Wednesday are the dogs’ days off). Tickets are £10 ($13) per person per session. You also have the option of booking a double session (available for the 10:00, 12:30 and 15:00 slots) which will also give you a chance to have the dogs to yourself during the 10-minute transition period. Make sure you book in advance as they do get sold out. Walk-ins are accepted at the beginning of each session if space is available.
Cakes and drinks are available for purchase individually in the cafe, or you can get a package with both for £15. Personally, I’d recommend just going for the dogs, but that’s just me. Not that the food isn’t good, but the dogs are the real attraction here. But seriously, don’t let that stop you from getting some food; this is a cafe after all!
- Address: 15B Frederick St, Edinburgh EH2 2EY (click to open in Google Maps)
- Phone: (+44) 0131 629 1860
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: Chihuahua Cafe
Is Chihuahua Cafe Worth It?
ABSOLUTELY! Excuse me for shouting, but unless you absolutely hate dogs, this cafe is simply awesome. I had the biggest smile on my face the entire time I was there, and long after I left too. In fact, if you’re in need of some therapy, this is as good as it gets. Even though the cafe has only been open a few weeks, there are regulars already onto their second loyalty card (8 visits gets you 1 free). I know I’ll be back for sure!
Insider tip: Book your visit (one of them) to coincide with one of the chihuahua birthdays listed above. You’ll get to see the staff in their birthday hats, and feed the dogs birthday cake (peanut butter cupcakes).
Update for 2020
The Chihuahua Cafe closed for a few months in 2020 due to world events, but is now open once again with enhanced health and safety measures. Sadly, Dutchess has retired from the pack. On her third birthday – August 2, 2020 – she celebrated her final party at the cafe. The message from the cafe was “Duchess had a life-changing experience over Lockdown and has decided to leave the cafe life to go on adventures around the world.” I’m just thankful I got to celebrate her first birthday with her at the cafe.
The new changes and safety regulations the cafe has introduced are as follows:
- All bookings are final upon payment. You can request a reschedule more than 72 hours before your slot, but changes aren’t guaranteed.
- Social distancing will be observed in the cafe, incorporating smaller group sizes.
- Groups must book together. Pre-established groups can sit together in the cafe.
- You must arrive 10 minutes before your slot so you can be checked in smoothly. Government regulations require that personal details are collected upon entry.
- Late arrivals will be refused entry and their payment is forfeit.
- Hand sanitizer is provided throughout the cafe, and you’re requested to use it before and after each activity.
- You must be comfortable with the dogs moving between groups within the cafe.
- The staff will wear masks and practice social distancing but might have to approach you for various reasons.
- At this time, there’s nothing posted on the website about whether masks are required within the cafe.
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Planning to Visit Scotland?
Looking for other activities in Edinburgh, or perhaps you’re allergic to dogs? Here are some other options, as well as some recommendations on where to eat in Edinburgh.
- 5 Amazing Cafes and Restaurants in Edinburgh That I Frequent
- Best Places to Eat in Edinburgh on a Budget
- How to Find the Best Brazilian Crepes in Edinburgh
- The Village Hotel in Edinburgh is So Much More Than a Hotel
- There’s a Cat Cafe in Edinburgh!
- Begin Your Journey in Scotland with a Secret Food Tour in Edinburgh
- What the Da Vinci Code Didn’t Show You About Rosslyn Chapel
- Camera Obscura in Edinburgh Brings Out the Kid in You
- Experience the Underground Preservation of Mary King’s Close
- Escape Edinburgh: The Most Fun Activity in Edinburgh’s New Town
- Finding the Best Ghost Tours in Edinburgh
- Riding the Most Delicious Tour in Edinburgh on the Red Bus Bistro
- 9 Free Attractions to Visit in Edinburgh
- 10 Activities for The Perfect Day Trip from Edinburgh
- A Virtual Tour of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, Scotland
Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.
- 5 Steps to Book Cheap Flights
- Hostels: To Book or Not to Book
- Is Workaway Worth it for the Traveler?
- Click here to claim your $25 credit with AirB&B
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