Models and fashionistas probably don't eat that much cake or they wouldn't be able to maintain their (very thin) figures. But for those of you interested in fashion but also partial to a nice biscuit or dessert, there is the answer: the Berkeley afternoon tea. The Pret-a-Portea was introduced back in 2004, so it seems particularly fitting to write a review in time for it's tenth anniversary. The menu is inspired by fashion designers and their collections, and changes every season (that is, twice a year for spring/summer and autumn/winter) to reflect what is currently on the catwalks.
My boyfriend's mum wanted to take me for afternoon tea to celebrate my birthday and there was no doubt in my mind it had to be the Berkeley. I've had traditional afternoon teas at the Ritz and the Langham, an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea at the Sanderson and an afternoon tea full of cats at Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium - all of which I highly recommend. The Berkeley really stood out to be both as a great idea and something a bit different to where I had already been, and my boyfriend's mum had been before, so she knew it was good.
The hotel is a short walk from Knightsbridge tube and has the full-on doormen and posh cars pulling up outside effect. Afternoon tea is served in the caramel room, which is just off the main lobby; it's actually quite a small room and the tables are packed quite closely together but I didn't feel like we were too crowded or that we could overhear the conversation at the next table.
After we had chosen our teas from the main menu, the sandwich selection was served first; we had salmon, prawn, ham, egg and as my boyfriend's mum is vegetarian, she was brought a couple of other choices as well. At the same time, we had some mini savouries - a tiny ham and cheese filo pie, a cone containing crab salad, a shot glass of tomato water, and a miniscule goat's cheese and beetroot mousse. The waiter asked if we would like to replenish any of the sandwiches and we had a few more - we were having our afternoon tea as a late lunch so I was actually quite hungry!
The desserts were the main attraction for me however- you don't get scones and cream with this kind of tea (which are never my favourite part anyway). We were given a menu listing each dessert which had pictures of the outfits they were based on.
Emilia Wickstead striped fuchsia pink and orange joconde with tropical crème pâtissière blazed with a twirly fruit cone
As it was my birthday, at the end the waiter brought me a plate with 'happy birthday' written in chocolate and a couple of truffles and strawberries, which I thought was a really nice touch.
The afternoon tea is not cheap - £41 per person or more if you have the champagne option - but that is comparable to all the afternoon teas at leading London hotels. This one is really worth the money - the thought and attention put into each piece, making sure they reflect fashions on the catwalk. The sandwiches were really tasty and quite special themselves- rather than just an afterthought which is sometimes the case - and the mini desserts were all amazing. It's hard to decide which was my favourite - I would say it was the cherry and white chocolate mousse, the pistachio sponge cake and the pink and orange joconde. We had the waiter replenish everything, as there was only one of each dessert on the cake stand, so that way both of us got to try everything!