Prêt-à-Portea at the Berkeley Hotel London – the fashionista afternoon tea
The Knightsbridge area of London is one of the richest parts of the capital. Expect to find plenty of high-end designer shops and see several flash Ferraris or Lamborghinis whizzing past. It’s also close to the ‘most instagrammable cafe in London’, Elan Cafe. It’ll come as no surprise then, that Knightsbridge is where you’ll find the 5-star luxury Berkeley Hotel: the home of the excellent Prêt-à-Portea.
Just off the busy shopping street of Knightsbridge, the hotel’s adjacent to residential homes in the area. That said, stepping inside its doors feels more like walking into someone’s grand home than a plush hotel.
Is the Berkeley Hotel London for you?
Oddly enough, the Berkeley Hotel started life as a coffee house back in the 18th century. It became the Berkeley Hotel in 1897, and was one of the first hotels to offer air conditioning in its rooms in the 1920s.
You can choose to stay in one of their luxury rooms, suites or signature suites. Every room has elegant small touches from fresh flowers and champagne, to Italian marble bathrooms. For a room with a view, the Balcony King Room or the Balcony Junior Suite would be a perfect fit.
Marcus at the Berkeley Hotel
Fine-dining enthusiasts will be eager to book a table at Marcus, the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Named after renowned chef, Marcus Wareing, you’re sure to enjoy an evening of excellent food, wine and top service.
The Blue Bar
Head to the intimate, and aptly-named Blue Bar, for an aperitif or post-dinner drink. The colour follows a unique Lutyens Blue scheme that was especially created for the hotel. The bar also serves up homemade nibbles along with every order — just in case you’re still hungry! Their cocktails are refreshing, bold, and made with the same finesse you’d expect from the calibre of the Berkeley Hotel.
Bamford Haybarn Spa
No luxury hotel’s complete without having a spa within its confines to pamper its guests. The hotel’s Bamford Haybarn Spa is a chance to step away from the urban noise, and into the realms of a quiet country retreat. Therapists use products from Oskia London and Bamford, who ensure that your treatment is bespoke for you. Choose from an invigorating body wrap or an age-defying facial, and leave feeling 100% rejuvenated.
“You can drink as much tea as you want, and try any of the blends on the menu. ”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
“The Prêt-à-Portea is the only afternoon tea that celebrates the world of fashion — in dessert form!”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
Prêt-à-Portea: the most fashionable afternoon tea in London
From hues of blues and purples, to entering a room so illuminous, it brightens even the greyest March afternoon. As well as being the location of the Prêt-à-Portea, the Collins Room also serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I highly advise booking for the tea, especially if you’d like to come on the weekend. They usually advise that you can keep the table for 2 hours. However, if you’re coming for a special occasion, I’d ask in advance if you can stay longer. Our booking was at 5pm, which turned out to be perfect, as we stayed far longer than our 2-hour slot!
Prêt-à-Portea: the food
The Prêt-à-Portea is the only afternoon tea that celebrates the world of fashion — in dessert form! Head pastry chef Mourad Khiat has designed a mouthwatering range of cakes and pastries that pay homage to high-end designers. And guests get to sample all the latest fashions from the international runway, just without the huge price tag!
We started the tea, by of course, picking the tea we wanted to drink! You can drink as much tea as you want, and also try any of the blends on the menu. There’s an additional cost for some teas however, so be aware that not all teas are included. I drank my body weight in White Peony, Jasmine and fragrant lemongrass and ginger tea. To add a touch of fizz to your afternoon tea, opt for the Champagne Prêt-à-Portea. You’ll get a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne along with the standard menu items.
Next to come out is the array of mini sandwiches and savoury treats. The Berkeley Hotel does cater to specific meal requirements, so just let them know of any when booking. On the day we went, one of my friends requested a dairy-free meal, while another asked for a vegetarian option. The staff handled our request with no fuss, and we all equally enjoyed our meal and experience.
Sandwich fillings include the classic cucumber dill and cream cheese, as well as egg mayonnaise and tomato. My favourite, however, was the sandwich with gouda cheese and golden beetroot on onion bread. Along with the 6 half sandwiches, they also serve delicate savoury bites, like cep and wild mushroom on croute with Manchego cheese. With all this glorious food staring back at you, it’s hard not to eat it all. However, I urge you to leave room, as the best is really yet to come.
The fashionable cakes and pastries
It was an orchestra of eyes widening when we first saw the tray of Prêt-à-Portea cakes and pastries. Three-tiers of designer dessert goodness, and each one looking too good to eat — or break into.
To give you an idea of the treats, and its inspiration, on offer, here are some of the items on the menu.
“Along with the 6 half sandwiches, they also serve delicate savoury bites, like cep and wild mushroom on croute with Manchego cheese.”
FOLLOWING THE RIVERA
- Dulce and ginger clutch-shaped cat-design cake, sandwiched in between orange chocolate inspired by Anya Hindmarch;
- An iced speculoos chocolate biscuit in the shape of a Bottega Veneta mustard-coloured suit; and
- Dolce & Gabbana ‘dress’ redesigned as an almond genoise with mango and passion fruit inside, complete with chocolate rainbow disks on top.
While I enjoyed most of the items, there was one cake for me that stole the show. The Burberry-inspired Tonka bean cheesecake with a crumble base and white chocolate feather was my favourite, and way too small!
Prêt-à-Portea: is it worth it?
All in all, I’d say that the Prêt-à-Portea is totally worth it. The location’s perfect, the hotel’s a luxury dream and the staff are accommodating and incredibly friendly. You’ll not only enjoy a delicious tea, but are bound to leave having had a memorable experience too. Cost of the tea is £52* (€60/$74) per person or £62* (€71/$88) for the champagne version.
They do have a dress code of smart/casual for the tea so do be aware prior to your visit. The hotel doesn’t allow ripped jeans, flip flops, sportswear, shorts or baseball caps.
Looking for a luxury hotel stay? The fabulous Flemings Mayfair hotel’s a short distance from the Berkeley, and in an equally great area.
*prices correct at time of visit (March 2018)