One of London’s most intriguing secrets is the number of animals you’ll find in top hotels. Some are real – like Whisky the cat who for a long time reigned over the American Bar in the Stafford – and others like Kaspar at The Savoy are not, but they all bring a bit of fun into the hotel world.
Kaspar is probably the most famous. He is a sculpted black cat who always attends meals when there would otherwise be 13 guests at the table. He is brought out and given a full place setting to make up the numbers to a much luckier 14. The recent refurbishment of the Savoy brought two topiary bushes cut into Kaspar’s shape – a nice touch!
The Goring has sheep instead – a whole flock of wooden ones with real fleece, who lurk around the hotel. They add a welcome touch of impish humour – George Goring started with one in the bar, and they spread to the rest of the hotel after it was an unexpected hit with guests. As an earlier blog post told us, “it’s never boring at The Goring“…
The Stafford Hotel, on the other hand, has rubber ducks as its mascots. Every bathroom has a rubber duck, and the hotel has a secret supply of super-size rubber ducks for some of its more demanding guests. Occasionally stocks have to be refurbished; no doubt that is because ducks are naturally migratory birds and periodically fly off for warmer climes.
The Apex chain of hotels – which includes the Apex City of London and Apex London Wall as well as the soon-to-open Apex Temple Court in the UK capital – also go for rubber ducks. In fact, the rubber duck has become the unofficial symbol of the company’s Twitter account…much more fun than a boring corporate logo! They’ve even got an official Apex Duck Guide!
London’s pet mascots are by no means confined to hotels. There’s a fine pub cat in London for example – Tom Paine, a strikingly handsome black cat who lives at the Seven Stars in Holborn. I also recall that years ago, the ladies’ toilets in Paddington Station used to have a huge tomcat looking after them, with the assistance of some human underlings; and Barbican Station had a couple of resident cats in the 1990s which loved to warm their fur by sitting over the electric motors that made the ticket gates work.
I’ve also been told there’s a church cat at Southwark Cathedral – like all the best cats, he just walked in one day and never left. He’s provided a solution to the cathedral’s problem with mice and his name, naturally enough, is Magnifi-cat!
I wish more London hotels had these quirky mascots as they certainly do make a hotel more individual. And I must admit, if I ever stay at the Stafford, I will be one of the guests ringing up for a super-sized duck!
Photo credits: London Hotels Insight photo, The Savoy Hotel, Goring Hotel, Apex Hotels Facebook page.