Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Christmas in June - worth the wait!

Pret a Portea afternoon tea, The Berkeley

Today, I fell in love. With a Jean Paul Gaultier cheesecake. And an Erdem chocolate and passionfruit slice of heaven (the only way to describe it). Oh, and a Paul Smith orange papaya and pink lavender bavarois (a creamy, fluffy mousse-like desert to you or I). Delicious. 
Paul Smith crockery, Pret a Portea
Paul Smith crockery!

What am I talking about? Well, thanks to a wonderful Christmas present (taken very belatedly), I spent a deliciously decadent day with my two favourite girls at The Berkeley hotel, Knightsbridge. Before the cakes, came the spa....a modern and petite, yet luxurious space where treatments are of a very high-standard. I would personally recommend the Chrono Reverser Collagen - advanced exfoliation and anti-ageing treatment (70 mins/£110) Sensational. Checking my reflection several times post-treatment, I questioned the glowy, baby-faced image looking back at me, free from all of London’s nasty pollutants. Expensive but worth every penny: a result-driven yet highly enjoyable alternative to any (topically) controversial peels/fillers/botox procedures. So perhaps it wasn’t wise just after the treatment, to ‘discover’ the rooftop pool and sit there for a few stolen minutes while the other girls' treatments finished. If you stay at/visit The Berkeley, you must dedicate time to this tranquil spot; revitalise yourself with fresh air that you don’t normally find in this City and relish the sun-trap which it becomes on a day like today.

Rooftop pool, The Berkeley
The Berkeley's rooftop pool

After reluctantly leaving the spa, I was in for a lunchtime treat with a very fashionable twist. An afternoon tea fit for Chanel herself (she does make an appearance via a delicious clog biscuit, adorned with brown studs and white leather glaze), we were surrounded by delectable edible versions of Spring/Summer 2010’s fashion collections. Those I mentioned at the start were probably my favourites, but there are many delights to devour. Here are some pics:

Pret a Portea, The Berkeley
The Berkeley's Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea!
Pret a Portea menu
The Prêt-à-Portea menu

Held in The Berkeley’s Caramel Room (a charming, chocolately-coloured, old-worldly room), this afternoon tea, named Prêt-à-Portea, is served on funky Paul Smith crockery and is £35 per person, or £45 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne. The waiter will take you through each delicacy, explaining the designer influence. It’s not just cakes either - you start with a long plate each of ornate sandwiches containing the usual English afternoon tea treasures: smoked salmon, cucumber, egg and cress, yum. The list of teas available is also impressive, from Lapsang Souchong to Chocolate Mint Truffle. You can even opt for delivery and enjoy the tea in your own home, if you call 3 days in advance. Then sit back and wait for the Pret pistachio green and pale pink Vespa to arrive, tea in tow.
Pret a Portea fashion designers
The inspiration behind Prêt-à-Portea
Whether combined with spa treatments or not, Prêt-à-Portea is a destination in itself and would be perfect for a girlie get-together, a birthday, Mother’s Day, a Hen Do... the list is endless. Interestingly, it wasn’t just women occupying this refined room. For the fellas who can’t bring themselves to eat food that’s shaped like a shoe or handbag, the Caramel Room also has an all-day menu with fairly pricey but inventive salads, sandwiches and mains. Left your sweet-tooth at home? Try the Penne with lime, tomato compote, aubergines and feta or the Sesame crusted salmon fillet with cucumber risotto. 
Pret a Portea shoe biscuit, The Berkeley

What makes The Berkeley one of my favourite London hotels is that it prides itself on high-quality food and service, but just as important are its’ innovative interior and exterior designs. There is a whole Berkeley world to discover. Despite deserving of more blogging space, worth mentioning are the hotel’s other attractions: The Blue Bar (entirely blue interiors create a stunning cocktail sipping ground), Marcus Wareing’s fine dining restaurant (he was previously Chef Patron of Pétrus) and Koffmann’s (a more relaxed but famously French offering from Pierre Koffmann).

The Blue Bar, London's Berkeley Hotel
The Berkeley hotel's Blue Bar

Images: all my own, except for the rooftop pool and The Blue Bar, both: The Berkeley Hotel, London


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