Lara King

How to treat your dog to afternoon tea

How to treat your dog to afternoon tea
Image: Great Scotland Yard Hotel
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We’re in the elegant 1820s parlour of a five-star, Grade II-listed hotel. There’s music playing softly, and opposite us, one particularly well-groomed guest is wearing a bowtie. 

A three-tier cake stand is brought to the table. On the top tier sits a selection of homemade biscuits and a fluffy cupcake finished with a swirl of yellow icing. Beneath that is a thick wedge of cake with what looks like pink and white buttercream oozing from the middle. And on the bottom tier is a finely decorated China bowl, piled high with… mashed-up meat?

This beautifully presented afternoon tea isn’t for me, you see. It’s for my dog. We’re in the former London police headquarters of Great Scotland Yard Hotel, which is hosting a dog-friendly Jubilee afternoon tea every Sunday – and I’ve brought my four-year-old cocker spaniel Branston to give his verdict. 

From the moment we arrive, it’s clear who the VIP guest is. We’ve barely taken our seats when the first drink is brought to the table – not for us but for Branston, who’s presented with chilled water in a stylish Radley bowl. 

Branston, however, is a tough critic. His afternoon tea selection is made with human-grade ingredients by Talula Eats, a gourmet homemade dog food company described as ‘like a private chef for your dog’ – but given how much money I’ve wasted over the years on posh treats that he has unceremoniously spat out, I know that’s no guarantee. When the cake stand arrives I eye it nervously, wondering how much of it our picky dog will turn his nose up at.

Branston prepares for some pampering (credit: Lara King)

He starts with a ‘dogestive biscuit’ – Corgi-shaped in a nod to the Jubilee theme. He sniffs it thoroughly, considers for a moment – and then wolfs it down. Next he tries the ‘pupcake’, a bitesize yellow peony cupcake that looks so good I’m tempted to sample it myself. This time there’s no hesitation. It vanishes, and he sits licking his lips and looking at me expectantly.

The slice of cake (with added cricket powder for a protein boost, apparently) is also devoured, but it’s the final tier of freshly prepared organic meat and vegetables that really seems to make his day. He spends so long licking the bowl clean that it sparkles (and this from a dog who refused to finish his meals for the first three years of his life because he wasn’t convinced by any of the expensive dog foods we tried). 

The sweet creations for the humans in attendance have to be seen to be believed (credit: Lara King)

If the dog menu is impressive, though, the offering for accompanying humans is in a different league. Our three tiers of savoury treats include mini quiches of king prawn, courgette, rocket and Montgomery cheddar; smoked salmon, asparagus, horseradish and avruga caviar on pain de mie; coronation chicken finger sandwiches; truffle duck egg mayo on briochette; and garden pea, lemon and mint gougères. 

Next comes three tiers of the sweet stuff: miniature scones warm from the oven and topped with Cornish clotted cream and a summery rhubarb and elderflower jam; vast globes of blackcurrant and tonka mousse decorated with sugar flowers; oat, honey and apricot primrose ‘hats’; chunks of violet battenberg; and 'Imperial State Crown lime cookies', which are like a luxurious lime-flavoured take on Jaffa Cakes. Created in partnership with the Queen’s perfumier, Floris London, the menu has apparently been inspired by the notes of the brand’s Platinum 22 Eau de Parfum, but it’s the presentation that really stands out, with edible masterpieces so intricate they have to be seen to be believed. We wash it all down with glasses of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label Brut and pots of Breakfast Blend and Earl Grey teas. 

The canine clientele is remarkably well-behaved. There’s the bowtie-wearing poodle, a golden retriever who’s tall enough to help himself from the table and a terrier who makes herself at home on one of the highback armchairs, plus several oodle-esque crossbreeds and a very mellow chow-chow puppy. The opulent parlour has enough room for the hotel to space its four-legged visitors out, so there’s no fur flying over food, and Branston receives plenty of cuddles and fuss from the staff. 

It may not be a cheap afternoon out, but it’s the ideal treat for fussy dogs and hungry humans alike – not least because there’s so much food that we’re given a doggy bag to take our leftovers home. There’s no such need for the doggy himself, though, who licks up every last crumb and doesn’t even ask for his dinner that night. 

The Platinum Jubilee Dog Afternoon Tea is available at Great Scotland Yard Hotel every Sunday until 30 October. Prices from £49 per person and £25 per dog. Book online or by calling 0207 9254 700.