The red-coated doorman make a cheering sight at the best of times, but during Christmas they look positively Dickensian, complementing my Royal Stewart tartan coat a treat. It was my first visit to London and the chaps made me feel extremely welcome, patting me on the head and holding the door open for me as I walked in with my mum. Even as she was checking in a member of staff arranged a bowl of water for me, and I knew that I was in for a good time at The Rubens at the Palace, which underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment prior to my arrival. Perhaps they appreciate the fact that I am a royal dog – a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel no less.
I should have liked to have said hello to The Queen at Buckingham Palace just a short trot away, but they don’t allow dog visitors – strange when Her Majesty has so many of her own. Never mind, they allowed me into the Royal Collection gift shop where my mum bought Christmas presents for the family. Belonging to the family-owned, dog-loving Red Carnation Hotels Collection, The Rubens was my very own palace, with a plush, custom-made dog bed, bowls, a whole packet of treats and a generous bone biscuit awaiting me in The Windsor Suite, one of 161 recently transformed rooms. I even had a personalised ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and a ‘Royal Pet Menu’ to peruse at leisure; full of delightful doggie dishes prepared to order by the chef.
To make up for the disappointment of not meeting The Queen and her corgis, Pet Concierge, Dave Brown, compiled a list of pooch-friendly travel tips and venues for mum to read, from independent boutiques to hairdressing parlours to keep me looking my best in spite of the rain. A short time later room service brought me up Pawsecco and a Woofin muffin which I thoroughly enjoyed before settling down for a nap. It had been a very tiring day and mum seemed to be in the mood for watching television from the king-size bed – Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas of all things. I’m a girl and even I can’t abide that! Fortunately, after mum had a soak in the tub, she took me downstairs to explore the public areas of the hotel, all of which welcome dogs with open arms including both restaurants, The English Grill and The Curry Room, but I’m supposed to tell you that owners can arrange pet-sitting in advance with Mr Brown if they really want to.
The luxurious Cavalry Bar (perhaps it should be re-named ‘Cavalier Bar’) with plush red upholstery particularly took my fancy and I liked hiding under the tassel-trimmed chairs – I even found a nut. Once again, the staff never overlooked me, and after taking mum’s order (Lanson champagne of course – by Royal Appointment to you-know-who) the bar manager brought me water and gave me another pat, enquiring my name – Clemmie. I was rather alarmed when the singer crouched over me and sang in my ear with a microphone, however, and I had to bark at her for a good few minutes before she finally got the message that I have extra-sensitive hearing and didn’t need her to bellow so close. Mum shushed me as everyone else seemed to be enjoying it and I finally piped down after I’d found a safe haven under the table.
Mum and dad decided not to take me to The English Grill for dinner because they probably wanted some peace, but I was lucky enough to join them for breakfast there the next morning where, seated next to mum within a comfortable booth I ordered fine quality sausages and bacon from the aforementioned ‘Royal Pet Menu’, served in my very own bowl. It sure beats food out of a tin (even if it is organic) and my tail wagged with contentment until we checked out – something I was extremely reluctant to do. The jovial doormen admired my new red Christmas jumper as our car pulled up outside, insisting that I visit again soon. Just try to stop me mum!
Rooms at The Rubens at the Palace, 39 Buckingham Palace Road, Westminster, London SW1W 0PS, start from £228 per night, including Full English Breakfast, for a Classic Double room. For more information and reservations please visit the website or telephone: +44 (0) 20 7834 6600.