Fashion-Themed Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley Hotel
Published 9 April 2012
Popular opinion is that the afternoon tea at the Ritz Hotel is the best in London. And it might have been true in the past. But while The Ritz still has name power and tourists still clamouring to experience tea like the Queen does, the smart Londoners have moved on other afternoon tea places, and one of those is most definitely The Caramel Room at The Berkeley Hotel.
The Berkeley, located just off Harrods and Harvey Nichols, does an unusual afternoon tea in London. Unusual is probably not the right word – fashionable and playful is probably better! With their Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea, traditional afternoon tea cakes and desserts are transformed into colourful and delightful sweet things that take inspiration from fashion items such as bikinis, high heels, and dresses.
For the Prêt-à-Portea Spring / Summer 2012 collection, inspiration from designers such as Dolce & Gabanna, Jason Wu, and Valentino were used, and we were provided with this useful guide to the various luxury items used to draw inspiration for the afternoon tea:
But before we get ahead of ourselves, first off there is the tea selection, and at The Caramel Room there is a wide and interesting selection, with some standard loose leaf teas like Earl Grey and Celyon, to more interesting ones like Pear Caramel. There are also herbal infusions, fruit infusions, and of course The Caramel Room’s own signature blend, the Caramel Indulgence.
With the tea sorted, here come the afternoon tea sandwiches. And they’re the usual bunch – egg mayo, cucumber, smoked salmon, and coronation chicken. There’s a tuna wrap as well, just to make things a bit more exotic and modern. But really, standard stuff you find at any afternoon tea. They did taste delicious though – especially the egg mayo and the coronation chicken, two fillings which I never thought could get to this sort of level. The smoked salmon sandwich came with a sun dried tomato bread, which worked so well together, and on its own. I was half tempted to ask for another serving – of just the sun dried tomato bread alone!
Finally, the three tier dessert stand came, and it was a sight to behold. Lots of bright and colourful goodies, and each made and shaped to perfection:
Surprising highlights included the Miu Miu 1950’s inspired vanilla bikini biscuit with red hot icing and playful white bow, which looked like a normal biscuit until you took a bite. Then the really buttery biscuit with a hint of vanilla hits you, and you feel like you’ve gone to shortbread heaven.
The Valentino romantic peach cake dress with a light pink champagne jelly and edible flower looked so delicate and dainty, with a real fresh miniature on top. It was so pretty (and a real flower) that I was scared to eat it, even though it was apparently edible! The jelly was mind blowing though, full of the flavour of pink champagne and with bits of what I presume were edible flowers in it giving a subtle scent.
The Jason Wu romantic cherry bavarois and coconut cream topped with playful pink skirt and biscuit heel looked gorgeous, and a combination of some intricate icing work and a slender thin biscuit shaped like a model’s leg with a chocolate heel.
Each dessert tasted fabulous, apart from perhaps the Dolce & Gabbana bag, but I guess you can’t have both a stunning looking dessert and great taste for everything.
Along with the desserts and cakes were some taster spoons and canapés, including a grape gazpacho, which was not the best due to its sour taste with nothing sweet to balance it out.
Have I mentioned by the way that you could get seconds of anything you wanted? Unlike most other afternoon teas, The Berkeley has quite a generous policy of providing another portion of the cakes, sandwiches, or canapés that you liked, which makes it much more fun as you can have another portion of the desserts or savouries that you really liked.
The icing on the cake (excuse the pun) of the afternoon tea was at the end, when a doggy bag was presented to both of us, each containing two desserts to take home to finish. If I wasn’t already so sated at that point, I might have very well been tempted to have plunged into my box while on the Tube on the way home!
Overall, a great afternoon tea. Probably my favourite in London. Hard to decide between this one and the afternoon tea at The Connaught Hotel, where it is the sandwiches which a bit more unique, rather than the desserts! But The Berkeley is a great place to bring any fashionista friends and if you’re looking for something colourful.
Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea at The Berkeley hotel starts from £39 per person, and is available daily at the Caramel Room from 1pm to 6pm. Booking is highly recommended – especially if you are looking to go on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon!