As any operator knows, afternoon tea is now big business, filling restaurants and hotel bars during a day-part that might otherwise be slow. The mid-afternoon meal also introduces a whole new audience to an establishment, creating exposure beyond traditional groups of guest.
With afternoon tea week kicking off this week, we round up some of the more creative a ways that operators are making sure their sandwiches and scones set them apart.
Bluebird Chelsea, London
Ballygally Castle, Ballygally
Fans of the popular HBO show Game of Thrones can have their own slice of Westeros at BallyGally Castle in Northern Ireland. Alongside being surrounded by recognisable locations from the series, guests can enjoy a Dothraki trifle with mini dragon's egg, Winterfell jaffa cake with Stark's chocolate cake pops, Kingslayer cupcake, and Daenerys Tart-garyen. Prices start at £22.
Hotel Café Royal, Regent Street, London
Considering Hotel Café Royal was crowned winner of the Best Traditional Afternoon Tea 2017, it's safe to bet it's a good one. Served in the Oscar Wilde bar, the afternoon tea ranges from £42 to £65. The selection of sandwiches ranges from the classic cucumber to Burford Brown eggs, watercress and tarragon mayonnaise. Sweet treats created by Sarah Barber include Strawberry mojito macaroons, coconut and mango dacquoise and apple and Tahitian vanilla caramel tart.
Comins Tea, Bath
This Eastern inspired afternoon tea is only £16 per person which includes a selection of four desserts followed by Comins Cakes and blueberry scones. There's more than 30 fine teas to choose from including Wr Wu's zheng yan roi gui oolong tea; long jing dragonwell green tea; and Darjeeling rainbow black tea.
OXO Tower restaurant, London
This one is on the verge of not being an afternoon tea - it's even in the title. Summer Not Afternoon Tea offers cocktails and cakes rather than the traditional fizz and scones. Selections include the Pimm's Plate, the Taste of Summer plate, which is dedicated to the fruits of the season, the Herbal Remedies plate which contains herbs foraged by head chef Penny Wabbit. Prices start at £22 per person.
The Sanderson, Fitzrovia, London
The Sanderson is encouraging guests to fall down the rabbit hole in to their Alice in Wonderland inspired afternoon tea. Menus are hidden inside vintage books, tea is served in regal pots and sandwich plates decorated with zebras, birdcages and ticking clocks. Sweets include Tweedle Dee's lemon curd financier, a mocha chessboard gateau and a Mad March Hare vanilla pocket watch macaroon. Drinks include an apple, cinnamon and peach Drink Me potion. Prices start at £48 per person.
Fawsley Hall, Northamptonshire
At Fawsley Hall guests can feel part of the Knightley family, which were residents of the hall for more than 500 years during this afternoon tea which is served in the Tudor bar, the conservatory or the Great Hall of the house. Head pastry chef Raechel Harris has created a selection of finger foods fit for royalty including sundried tomato and feta scones; chicken liver parfait with quince jelly; and a pastrami bagel with mustard mayonnaise and dill pickles. Prices start from £19.50.
One Aldwych, Covent Garden, London
Inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, One Aldwych is serving up golden eggs, blueberry brioche and candy floss at its afternoon tea, dedicated to the Roald Dahl story. All snacks are served with loose leaf tea, chosen to compliment the flavour of the unusual snacks. Afternoon tea starts from £39.
At Malmaison Dundee the classic afternoon tea has been given a twist. It features savoury items such as hot smoked salmon and crème fraÁ®che or chipotle chicken and avocado wraps, and sweets such as a salted chocolate brownie and a peach and amaretto cream. Priced at £17.50.
The Berkeley, Belgravia, London
This list wouldn't be complete without a mention of the Berkeley's fashionista afternoon tea, priced at £52 per person. For summer 2017, pastry chef Mourad Khiat has created a PrÁªt-Á -Portea collection of biscuits, bakes and fancies which take inspiration from an array of designers. Goodies include: Gucci's pink candyfloss summer berry sable Breton jumper in a rhubarb mousse; Ralph & Russo pain de GÁªnes dress cake and Stella McCartney's British chocolate and vanilla Battenberg cake inspired by her chequerboard summer pumps.
Ma' Plucker, Carnaby, London
For the carnivores, Ma' Plucker offers a trio of fried chicken donuts, filled with an array of ingredients including peanut butter, bacon and jalapeno. The doughnuts can be eaten with a cold brew coffee martini, cherry flavoured beer, or butterscotch schnapps. Those with a sweet tooth can choose from a caramel popcorn sundae; unicorn shake shooter; or salted chilli brownie. Priced at £18.50.
The Dorchester, Mayfair, London
In honour of afternoon tea week, the Dorchester is launching an ice-cream champagne afternoon tea. Among afternoon tea treats, guests can enjoy a selection of homemade ice-cream cones in black berry mojito sorbet; clotted cream and cherry; and honeycomb and strawberry basil sorbet flavours. Priced at £65 per person, including a glass of champagne.
The Painswick, Stroud
The Painswick caters for both sides of the afternoon tea coin by offering a sweet and savoury menu. The sweet menu consists of lemon scented madelines; white chocolate ganache and banana cake, while the savoury dishes range from a ham and cheese toastie to pork pies and scotch eggs. Prices start at £1 per dish.
Keeping in line with the vibrant theme, QHotels kicks off its green afternoon tea next week for the NSPCC. The traditional afternoon tea will be presented on a tiered cake stand and consist of sandwiches such as poached chicken with lime and coriander mayonnaise, as well as green miniature desserts and scones. Prices start at £15.50 with £1 per cover going to the NSPCC.
The Ampersand Hotel, South Kensington, London
Inspired by the hotel's neighbour, the Science Museum, this afternoon tea brings a little science to guest's afternoons. Themed treats include a mint and chocolate planet mousse with accompanying spaceman; short bread dinosaurs; and homemade plain and white chocolate scones served with toppings in a test tube. Prices start at £32.50 per person.