In Depth

Beyond the scone: Where to enjoy festive afternoon tea

A beloved British tradition is given a Christmas makeover with these joyful holiday indulgences

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What better way to kick-start the season of gastronomic overindulgence than with another great tradition – the afternoon tea? As we approach Christmas, pastry chefs are pulling out all the stops with creative and whimsical takes on festive fare. Here, we take a look at some of the limited-run menus worth sampling ahead of the big day.

The Lanesborough

At this London institution, head pastry chef Nicolas Rouzaud will present his modern take on the season's flavours. Combinations include a chocolate and coconut finger, a spicy Christmas muffin and an orange mousse sphere, each delicately crafted to form an eye-catching display. It is served with a choice from the hotel's extensive collection of teas, alongside a glass of Taittinger Brut champagne.

Festive afternoon tea is available at The Lanesborough from 25 November 2016 to 1 January 2017, £65; lanesborough.com

Hotel Cafe Royal

Served in the stunning Oscar Wilde Bar, the festive afternoon tea at the Hotel Cafe Royal offers impeccably executed, miniature takes on Christmas classics. Sandwiches include Norfolk turkey with a cranberry relish and smoked salmon with horseradish, and after the customary scones follow a selection of desserts packed full of warming winter flavours, including pain d'epice and mulled wine panna cotta, and a chestnut and apple tart. Another of the hotel's restaurants, The Cafe, which is home to the innovative dessert restaurant spearheaded by pastry chef Sarah Barber, will also serve a special menu of both sweet and savoury treats with surprising twists, including dishes such as deconstructed mince pie and a playful cranberry and vanilla mousse shaped as a bauble.

Festive afternoon tea is available at the Hotel Cafe Royal until 8 January 2017, £55; hotelcaferoyal.com

Coworth Park

Coworth Park

Set in 240 acres of beautiful Berkshire countryside, Coworth Park is the ideal spot to cosy up and enjoy an afternoon of fine feasting and entertainment. The Drawing Room has been suitably transformed with sumptuous decorations, which, alongside the roaring log fire, creates a comforting, homely feel, and on weekends plays host to a carolling choir. Just like the surrounds, the food is a traditional affair, with an assortment of finger sandwiches, scones and themed pastries and cakes, including a chestnut and pear Mont Blanc tart and a cranberry macaroon.

Festive afternoon tea is available at Coworth Park until 23 December 2016, from £32; dorchestercollection.com 

Sketch

For something a little more unusual, head to restaurant-cum-gallery space Sketch. If you're not too distracted by the wonderfully quirky interiors, home to the artistic musings of David Shrigley, tuck into The Night Before Christmas afternoon tea. It includes Sketch's signature sandwich selection as well as sweet treats served from the trolley, including a Buche de Noel. Get in early to take advantage of the special price of £50 until 30 November, while from 1 December, be serenaded by choristers while you snack.

The Night Before Christmas afternoon tea is available at Sketch until 31 December, £50 until 30 November, £71 from 1 December; sketch.london

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