I’ve longed to visit the Berkeley Hotel to try their legendary Prêt-à-Portea Afternoon Tea. Having swooned over images of this on-trend fashion inspired Afternoon Tea, I knew it’s where I wanted to take my then 16-year-old fashion-obsessed daughter to celebrate the end of her GCSE exams. Not lucky enough to secure tickets to the Dior Couture Exhibition at the nearby V&A Museum, this was the next best thing though the Prêt-à-Portea Tea is the perfect end to a fashionista day out combining both the exhibition and the Afternoon Tea. It was a long time since Zoe had Afternoon Tea with me, the last time was at the Cafe Royal, I knew she was really looking forward to this.
The Berkeley Hotel is situated in the heart of Knightsbridge, the hub of high-end fashion and glamour. It’s a gorgeous classically styled hotel with art deco touches in the beautiful Collins Room where Afternoon Tea is served. It has an air of sophistication thanks to the orangery-style extension which is flooded with natural light with its floor-to-ceiling windows which is where my daughter Zoe and I were seated. The Collins Room is named after legendary and notable designer David Collins who’s designed some of the most luxurious restaurants in London including Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road, Nobu and the magnificent institution that is The Wolseley. His protégé Robert Angell re-designed The Collins Room in honour of his late friend, it’s a stunning room which blew me away as I entered.
My daughter and I were seated at a large corner table, the plush grey leather chairs were so comfy. We admired the unusual porcelain petal chandeliers and the abstract purple and yellow design of the china.
I was pretty impressed with my personalised name card as I looked at the other tables to see whether they had the same cute purple card on their tables. In addition, we also have a gold embossed Dior card with a description of all the patisserie and which iconic Dior design they represent, little touches like this are so important.
To begin with, we we’re welcomed with some water infused with lemon and orange slices and then our hostess ran through the Prêt-à-Portea menu which is presented in an elegant mauve binder. It’s definitely a keepsake and something you’ll want to take away with you if you ask nicely! Over the next few pages is a story about this very special designer Afternoon Tea and then a description of the sandwiches and cakes plus a list of the extensive range of teas some of which come at a supplement.
The teas on offer are white, yellow, one with a shocking £38 supplement for a very rare Jun Shan Silver Needle, green, Oolong, black and tisane. I’ve never heard of tisane tea’s, but it comes from the Greek word meaning herbal and medicinal, they’re fresh, uplifting and aromatic. For the coffee lover, there is a range of coffee available, I’m really pleased to see my favourite, Jasmine Silver Needle tea which I always have with the sweet course. There’s even a description of how The Berkeley make tea, this hotel is having a huge impact on me with their quirky little details.
Prêt-à-Portea Tea comes on its own, with a signature Mocktail or a glass of champagne. My daughter chooses the mocktail while I have a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne Cuvée Brut NV. The one striking detail about the Berkeley’s Prêt-à-Portea tea is that there are no scones on the menu, I know, no scones. I must admit that I am a bit surprised and a tad disappointed but, in all honesty, this is no ordinary Afternoon Tea and I’m soon, dare I say, relieved that there aren’t any of these Afternoon Tea staples.
The sandwiches arrive looking pristine and absolutely perfect, there’s an extra chicken which Zoe chose instead of the salmon which she’s allergic to. We also have a tray with really impressive looking savoury treats.
The Prêt-à-Portea Finger Sandwiches
Roast corn-fed chicken, spring onion & celery emulsion on onion bread
Peppered pastrami, beef heart tomatoes, basil on tomato bread
Home-smoked Scottish salmon, shallot soya mirin butter, pickled daikon, nasturtium leaves on rye bread
Cucumber, garden French sorrel, brown butter Boursin cream on white bread
Heritage breeds Copper Maran hen’s mayonnaise, mustard cress on white bread
Aromatic cottage cheese, baked courgettes, peppers, artichokes, baby spinach on seven grains bread
Smoked duck, shaved Manchengo, pineapple jam, gooseberry, horseradish, crispy brioche
Seared tuna, hibiscus & cep tea, tapioca, marinated roots vegetables
Fennel velouté, raspberry, sourdough croute, cucumber & sorrel jelly, fresh herbs
Everything sounded and looked absolutely divine, I’ve never seen or heard of anything like this on an Afternoon Tea menu, like I said, this hotel is having a huge impact me.
The sandwiches arrived beautifully presented on a tray, we dived straight in as we were both famished, we didn’t eat breakfast as we knew there would be so much to look forward to in this exquisite Afternoon Tea. I started with the bite sized treats while Zoe began with the sandwiches. The mini morsels of treats were divine especially the velouté and tuna. The tuna was bathed in a delicious broth which was tantalising and the velouté was creamy and satisfying, all three dishes were exceptional although Zoe wasn’t a fan of the velouté.
The sandwiches were absolutely gorgeous, super-soft bread with unusual fillings which we both loved. The chicken was by far my favourite and I am so glad Zoe chose this to be her extra sandwich in place of the salmon. The salmon was perfectly smoked and married so well with the soya mirin butter, completely different and perfect. We both agreed our least favourite was the cottage cheese with the roasted vegetables however everything was delicious, the 3 mini dishes were a real surprise. I really do love an unusual Afternoon Tea which delivers on taste and surprises and so far, Prêt-à-Portea wasn’t disappointing hitting every spot.
The Prêt-à-Portea Cakes Inspired By Dior’s Timeless Classic Designs
Rose pink Miss Dior eau de parfum lychee and raspberry cake topped with lychee paté de fruit and chic oversized bow
The Maguet pavlova and raspberry jam cake dress with Madagascar vanilla Chantilly, coconut marshmallow and elegant white sugar bow
Miss Dior floral Dulcey mousse dress with Berriolette centre set on a sable Breton and crowned with violet edible flower
Evening Junon gown fromage blanc and cassis jelly encased with scallops of white chocolate sprinkled with edible glitter
The iconic Bar jacket chocolate biscuit laced with light cream royal icing
This season must have J’adior slingback pump vanilla biscuit with royal icing finished with edible sugar ribbon
Lady Dior Handbag gifted to Princess Diana b France’s First Lady, Bernadette Chirac. This is a red velvet cake glazed with red chocolate miroir
The phrase “blown-away” is branded around so much these days and it’s one I sometimes like to avoid however in this instance, the cakes deserved that accolade, we really were blown away by the magnificence of each and every one of the cakes. Only a traditional stand would do for these masterpieces. The top tier of the stand on which the cakes arrived had the most realistic looking Miss Dior perfume and the cutest tiniest Miss Dior handbag on the bottom tier. We were wearing the broadest of grins as I’m sure everyone else was when they were presented with the cakes in this season’s Prêt-à-Portea Afternoon Tea. They were just too pretty to eat we both agreed.
The top tier contained the Miss Dior perfume, the slingback shoe and the bar jacket, we only got one of these as they were quite large especially the perfume. I would have liked my own shoe and jacket biscuit as they were so delicious, it was sad to divide them in two! Both biscuits were crispy and buttery and had just the right amount of icing to complement the biscuit, the Dior cake was delightful. It reminded me very much of a Battenberg cake, the sponge was airy and light with a thin layer of lychee and raspberry topped with the paté de fruit denoting the stopper of the perfume.
The middle tier was home to the Miss Dior Dulcey mousse dress and the evening Junon gown which were both exquisite, super creamy and light and like nothing I’d eaten before. On the bottom tier sat the cute little Miss Dior bag in red, a replica of the one gifted to Princess Diana which I would love to own myself. It even had a tiny handle which my daughter made me pick up, I just about managed to curl my fingers through the handle. This was a deliciously rich light chocolate red velvet sponge and next to it, the light-as-a-cloud Muguet pavlova and raspberry marshmallow cake which was just amazing.
Now I know why there wasn’t any scones, firstly, there is no place for scones in this fashion inspired Afternoon Tea and secondly, how much more can you fit in? we were absolutely fit to burst but not uncomfortably full, just on cloud nine for experiencing this wonderful treat of an Afternoon Tea. The pastry chef has kept the Prêt-à-Portea Afternoon Tea bang on trend changing it every 6 months to stay relevant drawing inspiration straight from the catwalk. I’m sure there are many designers clamouring to work with him to see their high fashion couture designs transformed into cakes and biscuits. There is a reason why the Prêt-à-Portea Afternoon Tea has stood the test of time, nearly ten years since its inception, it’s innovative and clever evolving and changing to move with the ever-changing fashion world.
All I can say is that you just really need to make your way to the Berkeley hotel to experience this magnificent Afternoon Tea before the season changes and even if you make it to The Berkeley’s next designer Prêt-à-Portea Afternoon Tea, you won’t be disappointed, the patisseries chef is sure to delight and impress you with new designs. It’s definitely something I would like to experience again as eagerly anticipate what will be on offer in the autumn.
Prêt-à-Portea Tea was outstanding, everything from the service to the ambience, the delicious sandwiches and mini savoury treats were simply gorgeous, and the cakes were completely unique and perfection on a plate and sublime to eat. I cannot fault the Prêt-à-Portea Afternoon Tea, it was worth every penny.
Prêt-à-Portea Afternoon Tea is £60 per person
With a signature mocktail, £70 person
Champagne Prêt-à-Portea £70 per person (includes a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne Cuvée Brut NV)
Couture Champagne Prêt-à-Portea £76 per person (includes a glass of couture champagne, Laurent-Perrier Rosé, Bollinger Rosé or Laurent-Perrier Blanc de Blancs)
The Prêt-à-Portea Afternoon Tea is served daily from 1:00pm to 5:30pm.
Our Afternoon Tea cost £175 including service, my daughter had a second cocktail at £15. All photos and opinions are my own.
London SW1X 7RL
020 7107 8866