Mini-Break: Hot Tea Spot in London pt. 2

High-Fashion Tea
Name a swank hotel -- the Ritz, Brown's, the Dorchester -- and you can count on finding a lavish tea. But for my money, and we are talking major money at top hotel teas, the Berkeley's "Pret-a-Portea, a fashionista's afternoon tea," wins hands down.
At 4:15 on a drizzly fall Monday in the Knightsbridge area, the Berkeley's Caramel Room is full. A lively group of business-suited men and women appears to be enjoying an early escape from the office; two elegant men to my right, in seamless succession, turn first to each other, then to their PDAs, then to their teacups. My window-front seat overlooks the driveway, where doormen in bowler hats gracefully open the doors of arriving Jaguars.
In my cup is a most delicious sip of pear-caramel tea. The waiter presents a tier of tiny canapes, identifying each: crust-less sandwiches of ham, cheese and cucumber; cherry tomatoes stuffed with couscous; salmon in a snaillike curl. Finally, the waiter offers what I'm here for: a fanciful array of cakes and sweets, whose colors and shapes replicate the creations of top fashion designers for the season. Framed photos display each item's inspiration. The pink-iced, chocolate-sashed cookie-dress is a Michael Kors; the sky-blue-iced, lemon-sponge, handbag-shaped concoction, an Anya Hindmarch; in all, nine delectable works of art. And truly, the sight of my proper Englishman at the next table biting into a pastry shaped like a Manolo Blahnik stiletto is quite worth the price of the tea on its own.
The Berkeley (Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, Pret-a-Portea daily 1-6 p.m., about $60. Reservations recommended.

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