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This Five Star Hotel Has Got Afternoon Tea Down to a Fine Art Form

afternoon tea

The Kensington has got afternoon tea down to a fine art with its new dining experience, which sees works by artists including Banksy, Jackson Pollock and Yayoi Kusama transformed into cakes and cocktails which are (almost) too beautiful to eat.

We head up the flower festooned steps of the luxury, five star hotel - made up of four, Victorian townhouses - past the customised Pashley bikes - which you can hire - and into its elegant Drawing Room to sample The Art of Afternoon Tea.

Kensington afternoon tea

Our table is set with beautiful china in Tiffany’s teal and gold, and the jolly waiter proudly brings out the silver, three tiered stand and talks us through the creations.

They include two mango mousse pumpkins inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s iconic pumpkin sculptures. These are light, fresh and adorable, filled with coconut yoghurt cream, with hand piped dots, and delicate chocolate stalks and base. 

pumpkin cake

The chef clearly has fun with the Jackson Pollock creations, splashing colourful sugars across its white chocolate canvas. As we crack through the light shell, we see a level of gorgeous detail and patience that its Abstract Expressionist inspiration might have struggled with - dark chocolate mousse, with a delicate heart of passion fruit parfait, sitting on a thick disk of chocolate and berry.

There are delicious blue and brown spheres, inspired by visual artist Alicja Kwade’s stone planet sculptures, made from white chocolate vanilla mousse with pineapple compote centres.

planet cake

We are invited to choose from three themed cocktails. I go for the Starry Night, a beautiful, teal tipple, thanks to its spirulina cordial, which pleasingly compliments the crockery. It’s made with Hendrick’s Flora Adorna, citrus and Rathfinny Classic Cuvee Brut and tastes like a grown-up, Love Hearts sweetie, without being too saccharine for my savoury-leaning chops. 

blue cocktail

My partner goes for the Girl with Balloon, adorned with a chocolate replica of Banksy’s red heart. It’s a fruity and potent mix of Discarded vodka, Italicus, sherry and pear, which would have Banksy revealing his identity after two sips. 

Banksy cocktail

The sandwich selection disappears quickly, with a winning spread of pastrami, gherkin and horseradish - my personal favourite - St Ewe egg with watercress; Chapel & Swan smoked salmon with lemon cream cheese, and cucumber and mint cream fingers.

The scones are fresh and steaming when we remove them from their napkin, with a mix of plain and fruit, which are crumbly, short and slightly sweet, as good scones should be. These are served with homemade strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream.

waiter serving afternoon tea

There is also an excellent selection of teas from The Rare Tea Company to wash it down with, from black, green and white to herbal infusions. My partner goes for the Genmaicha, a Japanese Green Tea made with Sencha leaves and toasted brown rice, which smells like buttered popcorn.

The Drawing Room is grand, but relaxed while we eat - various, well-heeled guests totter through with gorgeous dogs - the staff are warm and entertaining and the afternoon tea is beautifully and deliciously themed, but not too heavy, so we thankfully avoided being rolled out, like uncomfortable Kwade sculptures.

The Kensington, 109-113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London, SW7 5LP.  The Art of Afternoon Tea is available daily from 12pm - 4.30pm for £58 per person or £70 per person including a glass of Champagne

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