These are a few of my favourite things…
Last year, back in the pre-Christmas chaos, I was invited to try out the Willow Tea Rooms by the lovely folk at Glasgow’s Leading Attractions. Glasgow’s Leading Attractions is a one-stop shop for all things Glasgow related, curating the very best things to do and see in the city centre – even on those rainy days. I love playing tourist in my own city and feel so blessed to live in a city as beautiful as Glasgow, so I was excited to check out another Glasgow institution.
Despite being a dedicated fan of the wonders of Glasgow, and a bit of an afternoon tea obsessive, I was yet to pay the iconic Willow Tea Rooms a visit for myself. Afternoon tea is quite possibly one of my favourite things ever, but you know what else I love? Cats.
So, true to form, Lis and I decided to make a bit of a day of our trip to the tea rooms and squeezed in a visit to Glasgow’s newly opened Purrple Cat Cafe beforehand. The cafe opened just before 2017 ended, and I did actually pay them a visit for the exclusive preview day, thanks to the Platinum membership that my mum gifted me for my birthday, but Lis hadn’t been yet so it was an obvious choice.
What’s new, pussycat?
Fun fact: if you had asked me what I wanted to do a couple of years ago, I would have told you that I wanted to open Glasgow’s first cat cafe. Looks like I was beaten to it, huh? Regardless, it’s nice to finally have a cat cafe on my doorstep, instead of having to travel through to Maison de Moggy in Edinburgh or Cat Cafe Manchester.
Sitting at the bottom of High Street, in the former RBS building, Purrple Cat Cafe is home to an army of fluffs, most of whom are rescues. The cat cafe works closely with local charity Catflap, where we rescued our beloved Bonnie and Clyde from, and it was actually through the cat cafe that we discovered them. It’s a nice big open space with lots of room for the resident cats to sleep, play and hide – as well as plenty of space behind the scenes for when they want to be away from people, too.
Purrple Cat Cafe is quite similar to other cat cafes I’ve visited in its set up, but the main difference is that you’re actually allowed to pick up the cats here. I haven’t quite decided how I feel about this yet, because whilst I do like that I can get a bit more time cuddling the cats instead of being ignored by them, I’m not convinced that the cats are necessarily particularly comfortable with it. They do seem to let a few more people in than the other two cat cafes I’ve visited, which can make it feel a bit busy, but I guess it all depends on timing. There were a couple of occasions where I had a cat sitting quite happily beside me on the couch, only to have a stranger come over to pick it up and take it over to their seat. A tad rude, but that’s not the cafe’s fault.
I do like it, and will definitely be back to hang out with the gorgeous cats again plenty of times in the future, but I think they possibly need a bit of time to settle into the swing of things, being so recently opened. A big plus side to Purrple Cat Cafe is that it’s definitely more affordable than the other cat cafes I’ve visited, with the basic cover charge being £5 for the hour. I’m looking forward to seeing how they grow over the coming months – both the cafe and the cats.
Time for Tea
Whilst the menu at Willow Tea Rooms is extensive and includes delights such as french toast and Scottish Rarebit, I couldn’t resist the lure of the cake stand. The afternoon tea offering at the tea rooms is pretty standard, with three tiers of sandwiches, scones and cakes to enjoy. I particularly liked the added touch of being able to pick your own cakes from the enticing cake cabinet, as it meant I was definitely getting something I liked.
The sandwiches on offer included smoked salmon, cream cheese and cucumber, ham and mustard, and egg mayonnaise. Lis swapped her sandwiches out for a classic cheese (and let me have one too!) as she is very much not a fan of mayonnaise.
Then, we moved on to our two scones – one fruit and one plain. These were really well sized, which is something I always like to see, and they tasted absolutely delicious. I was pretty full at this point, which is a testament to the sheer size of the scones, but that didn’t stop me tackling the top tier.
I’m actually not a huge cake fan, instead preferring things like traybakes, meringues or biscuits, so my sweet treat of choice was the classic millionaire’s shortbread. Lis took a similar approach, except instead of opting for the traditional biscuit, she had a millionaire’s shortbread cupcake. Pretty impressive looking, if you ask me.
Although I did struggle somewhat to finish mine, it was delicious. The perfect ratio of biscuit to caramel to chocolate, with excellent crunch too. I’m starting to sound like Paul Hollywood, now. Alongside our selected treats, we were given a couple of little shortbread biscuits, a staple part of a Scottish diet, which were perfect for dipping into our teas.
At a mere £12.95, the afternoon tea at Willow Tea Rooms makes for the perfect treat – without breaking the bank. Pretty good value, considering the tearooms are somewhat of a Glasgow institution! Even better value, when considering the fact that the staff were all delightfully attentive and happy to work with dietary requests too. It was a lovely way to escape the snow and made a nice change from my usual disappointing supermarket sandwiches that I typically grab when shopping.