Apart from walks in the park and the occasional pub or beer garden, it can be a struggle to think of ways to keep your pooch entertained in London. So when my fellow blogger Emma, from Adventures of a London Kiwi, recommended a pup-friendly experience at the Egerton House Hotel, I immediately gave it a Google.
On Easter Sunday, my Dad and his gorgeous Fox Red Labrador Poppy joined me in Kensington for a doggie-friendly afternoon tea. Egerton House is a 5* boutique hotel from the Red Carnation collection and prides itself on its VIP service. Oh, that means Very Important Pet. Personalised towels, complimentary toys and even an exclusive pet pamper experience worth more than I'd spend on myself are just some of what your beloved fur-baby will receive.
On this occasion we opted for one of their pet menus (which has the likes of tenderloin of beef, cottage pie and a healthy smoothie for the body conscious beagles). Ridiculous to some, I can imagine, but if you can afford to treat your pet like royalty (without making it fat and lazy) than why not!
Welcomed by a beautifully laid table and a doggy mat beside it, Dad, Poppy and I sat down for a luxurious afternoon tea in the lounge. The cosy dining room is intimate and royal in decor, with beige vintage furniture and walls draped in 20th century paintings.
After receiving a fuss and a new toy to be chewed, Poppy decided against the Champagne tea and instead selected the specially created doggy menu which features three courses to be scoffed between your own. Dad and I on the other hand went for the Great British Afternoon Tea menu, Egerton's seasonal offering using the finest ingredients and classic treats. A vegan, gluten free, children's and vegetarian (which Dad selected) menu are also available, impressive for a smaller sized hotel.
There are of course also a number of fine loose leaf teas, each described so deliciously. I picked my favourite, a Sri Lankan Earl Grey whilst Dad opted for a Phoenix Honey Orchard Oolong, one he had grown a soft spot for whilst in China.
Our two wonderful waiters brought over the human and pooch stands, carefully explaining each item. Poppy wagged her tail in excitement as three doggy bowls were presented! First a chicken and beef meatloaf which lasted a matter of seconds from the words 'okay go!'.
Whilst she sniffed her next two courses we began tucking into ours. Each side of our bottom tier was packed with fresh sandwiches and I was pleasantly pleased by the individual look of each. Dad's vegetarian options did not bore either with a delicious sounding guacamole and rocket triangle as well as a grilled vegetable baguette.
My few meat sandwiches were absolutely delicious and I struggled to pick a favourite. The coronation chicken was a nice surprise but the smoked salmon stole the show, served on a particular kind of bread created by the owner of the Red Carnation hotel brand. It was soft and packed with seeds and raisins.
The classics were also faultless. The often missable cream cheese and cucumber combo was spread onto soft sun-dried tomato bread whilst the egg mayonnaise was cut into rounds and sprinkled with almonds.
Next came the scones, as we let Poppy chew on some bone shaped biscuits. Still warm and packed with fruit, they were English perfection with Devonshire clotted cream and a selection of fruit jams.
As our tea became cold we refilled, Dad happy with is Oolong whilst this time I wanted to try something different. Looking for a lighter option, I couldn't resist the sound of the Moroccan whole rosebuds.
Each were pretty as a picture, presented in clear teapots which has made me want to rush out and buy one immediately! My floral selection was perhaps one of the highlights, elegantly sweet and light, perfect to accompany our final course.
A layer of cakes included Battenburg, lemon drizzle, walnut and coffee, Victoria sponge and a cherry Bakewell tart, all surrounding a cute pot of strawberry trifle. As someone who isn't particularly fond of almonds and so be it, marzipan, I gave my Dad full dibs on the Battenburg and Bakewell which were both apparently perfection.
I on the other hand delved in to two of my favourite sponges, a lemon drizzle (topped with lemon peel) and a beautifully presented Victoria sandwich.
Poppy's last course was definitely the best till last, a pot of dog-friendly ice cream which she happily lapped up, mucky chops.
As our afternoon tea came to an end, a few hours in after we sat, relaxed and read the complimentary newspapers, more and more guests popped in for a cake or martini.
Apart from the cosy no-rush atmosphere of Egerton (and of course the delicious food) the impeccable service is what makes the experience so unforgettable. Whilst having to ask for more tea, the waiters were at ours, and Poppy's, beck and call. Perhaps because they are all so obviously dog-lovers, or perhaps because of its 5* style, the staff at Egerton House are some of the kindest and warmhearted I've come across.
Each with a small food baby, all 3 of us left with a definite smile and mooched through the luxurious neighbourhood for a Hyde Park wander.