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.
He starts with a ‘dogestive biscuit’ – Corgi-shaped in a nod to the Jubilee theme.