It’s a tradition that dates back to 1840, but this season London’s hotel’s are putting a thoroughly modern spin on afternoon tea, with inventive themes, creative presentations and whimsical designs. Taking inspiration from the city’s latest art exhibitions as well as its beloved summer sport, tennis, these grand spots are embracing the joy of the new season with these special menus. Here, we’ve rounded up the very best new afternoon teas to try next.
Indulgent and decadent, The Lanesborough’s latest afternoon tea offering is as wicked as the Disney villain it’s inspired by. In homage to the new Disney film Cruella, the hotel’s new tea menu is served under the domed roof of Michelin-starred Céleste, and everything is black, red and gold. A de Vil-appropriate rebellious and fashionable spin is put on the hotel’s traditional patisserie expertise, with extravagant pastries such as the Anarchy Reigns, a Millionaire shortbread presented on a mini artists easel, and the Runway Diva, a treacle tartlet with whipped dulcey ganache garnished with red lips. To make it extra special, you can opt to add on a glass of champagne or the special Scene Stealer cocktail, a blend of Bombay Bramble, raspberry and cherry, topped with white apricot air foam.
From £55 per person
Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Mirror Rooms” exhibition at the Tate Modern is proving to be one of the hottest art tickets of the summer. To celebrate the acclaimed artist’s latest show, Rosewood London’s Executive Pastry Chef Mark Perkins has created a new afternoon tea menu that combines unique Japanese flavours with traditional French pastry, with Kusama’s own design touches to echo her artworks. There are three courses of traditional sandwiches, classic pastries and a trio of Kusama-inspired cakes. These include All My Love For Tulips, a pastry of dotted petals made from a citrusy yuzu mousse, raspberry yuzu jelly, almond pan de gene, green tea sable, raspberry cremeux and chocolate petals, and Dots Obsession, a dark chocolate sable with passion fruit cremeux, rich jivara chocolate mousse and flourless chocolate cake, decorated with Kusama’s signature yellow with black dots.
£125 per person, with a glass of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2012 Yayoi Kusama Edition
The Berkeley puts the couture in afternoon tea design with the return of the hotel’s fashion-inspired menu, with some new additions that pay homage to recent runway successes. Donatella Versace’s ocean-themed cocktail dress is reimagined as a coconut darquoise and mango confit, encased with exotic fruit mousse and topped with a sugar starfish, while Valentino’s vivid printed gown is adapted into a pistachio bavarois with Amerena cherry. The centrepiece of this season’s patisserie tower is a shareable cake version of Halpern’s feather gown, with raspberry compote, domed Amatika chocolate with praline crunch, and topped with a pair of grue de cacao and black wafer legs. All the fashionable sweets are served alongside the classic selection of canapés and sandwiches, and a glass of champagne can be added onto your pot of tea.
From £60 per person
To celebrate the V&A’s “Alice: Curiouser & Curiouser” exhibition, the Kensington hotel has created an Alice in Wonderland-inspired new afternoon tea that will transport you to the Mad Hatter’s party. A Queen of Hearts raspberry jam tart is served alongside an Eat Me chocolate cake with a rich buttercream icing, as well as Pearl of Oysters white chocolate Lanson Champagne truffles, based on the poem recited by Tweedledum and Tweedledee. These pastries come in addition to the traditional sandwiches and your choice of tea. Enjoy your tea party in the elegant Drawing Room, or opt for the hotel’s Down the Rabbit Hole Afternoon Tea picnic and enjoy your tea in nearby Hyde Park.
£52 per person; £55 per person for the picnic
From 28 June to 11 July, the Mayfair hotel is celebrating the beloved Wimbledon Tennis Championships with a themed new afternoon tea menu. The entire selection incorporates Wimbledon’s signature colours, as well as strawberries, the seasonal fruit that goes hand-in-hand with watching the matches. The traditional strawberries and cream is reimagined as freshly-baked scones with jam and Cornish clotted cream, and delicate pastries — some even designed to look like tennis balls — are served alongside the classic finger sandwiches, with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut NV or a Pimm’s Royale.
From £70 per person