We both rather enjoy an afternoon tea (who doesn’t?!) and have sampled many across London, the UK and further afield – read about my tea at The Peninsula Hong Kong here!
One we keep going back to is the Prêt-à-Portea at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, London. Here you get an afternoon tea with a twist. The menu is inspired by catwalk fashions and is refreshed every six months to reflect the changing seasons! The Berkeley have done things a little differently for their latest menu, highlighting a single designer, Dior. This fits perfectly with this year’s V&A Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams exhibition which Ali has also recently visited.
Now you may think this concept sounds a little style over substance? This is not the case! I’ve been highly impressed on the three or four times I’ve visited for a girls’ afternoon outing. This time Ali treated me and our Mum for our birthdays – these days we tend to favour an experience of some sort rather than a traditional gift!
Tea is served in the Collins room which has a stunningly tasteful design whilst still being cosy and unpretentious. The tables are set beautifully with colourful Wedgewood crockery and plush seating. There was a low key nod to the Dior theme with coffee table books, perfumes and magazine covers on display. We were seated in the main part of the restaurant which I preferred to the more light and airy extension.
The food (and tea)
Six different types of fingers sandwiches are served to start, alongside three other savoury bites. All were beautifully presented and very moreish! There are traditional varieties such as cucumber with a twist of “garden French sorrel and brown butter Boursin cream” to more contemporary options.
Seven cakes and fancies followed including a red velvet Lady Dior Handbag cake and a Miss Dior mousse dress (our favourite). They were almost too stunning to eat. Each table is also presented with photos showing the items that inspired each treat on the catwalk! It’s great to see where the inspiration came from.
The creativity and attention to detail is such a credit to the team of pastry chefs. Each and every mouthful we had tasted delicious. We were offered more sandwiches and cakes – at no additional charge – which we took advantage of!
Top tip: whilst the usual spread doesn’t include the scones traditionally associated with afternoon tea, they can be requested as an added extra.
If you have leftovers the team will even package them up in very cute mini hat boxes for you to take home with you.
Following our glasses of bubbly we attacked the hot drinks’ menu. A vast selection of teas are available to sample – it’s very hard to narrow down the options! Each comes with a little description which tells you its origin and gives an indication of flavour, which is really helpful. I’d suggest picking one you wouldn’t usually go for to try something different. You can mix and match as much as you like and hot chocolate and coffee is available too.
The waiting staff were friendly and attentive but not overbearing. Our drinks were topped up regularly and any requests for extra treats were welcomed with a smile! We stayed for several hours, enjoying endless cups of tea and coffee. This made for a relaxing experience without feeling rushed out.
Everyone was very accommodating and welcoming of my eight week old baby boy; the doormen helped me up and down the entrance stairs before I even needed to ask for help. They’d also arranged a table with plenty of space for a pram without us feeling like we’d been sidelined into a corner or out of view!
Ali had mentioned on booking that we would be there to celebrate two birthdays. On arrival, we were pleasantly surprised to receive a sweet handwritten note wishing us a happy birthday. At the end of the afternoon, my Mum and I were then presented with a platter with a candle, fruit and chocolates on. It is these little touches that really set apart a 5* establishment from the rest and make the experience even more memorable. We’ll certainly be returning for a little indulgence for years to come!
Welcoming to babies!
It is not without trepidation that I go to a place such as this with my baby (and / or toddler) in tow! There was no need to worry as everyone made us feel so at home and I could have easily stepped out into the adjacent hotel reception should I have felt the need. I can vouch that the baby changing facilities are EXCELLENT – unfortunately, an entire outfit change was necessary!
Nappies, wipes, creams and more were available which demonstrates real thought in making those with young children feel welcome and comfortable.
The Prêt-à-Portea is £60 per person plus service at 12.5%. For an additional £10, a glass of champagne can be added.
Top tip: reservations can be made 90 days in advance. I’d highly recommend doing so to get your preferred choice of day and time. We were surprised at how busy it was on a Monday afternoon.