The Berkeley, a five-star hotel in Knightsbridge, bills itself as ‘classically cool’, with attractions that include the Blue Bar – which designer John Galliano called his ‘favourite home from home’ – and a health spa with rooftop swimming pool.
The hotel has become popular with celebrities seeking a discreet stay in London. In 2004, it decided to develop a ‘tea afternoon’ that would make The Berkeley stand out from the crowd.
To increase afternoon-tea business in the hotel by making it a ‘tea destination’. To help maintain the hotel’s high profile.
Strategy and Plan
To differentiate the hotel from other five-star establishments, the in-house PR team aimed the new Pret-a-Portea service at high-spending clientele interested in fashion. The range of cakes and pastries are based around the latest season’s collections – such as Fendi chocolate baguettes and Missonni éclairs.
The pastry chefs’ creations were assessed by fashion editors from magazines such as Tatler and Vogue, thus guaranteeing media interest beyond food publications. London correspondents for media in America, France and Japan were also approached.
Measurement and Evaluation
Vogue ran a half-page exclusive positioning the pastries alongside catwalk pictures of the dresses that had inspired them. This was followed with a page in The Observer’s Food Monthly and an article in Delicious magazine. Elle, Harpers & Queen, InStyle, Marie Claire and Eve also covered the story.
Heat ran a piece showing celebrities in the dresses that the pastries were based on and The Daily Telegraph featured Anya Hindmarch eating the cake version of her own handbag design. The Times also ran a double page, attributing an ‘Atkins backlash’ to Pret-a-Portea.
The hotel says weekend occupancy rates are up 20 per cent as a result of people booking in for tea and staying, and that more than £1m has been added to its bottom line in the past year, some of which can be attributed to Pret-a-Portea.
Afternoon-tea business in The Caramel Room has grown 300 per cent and the concept is to be taken to New York’s fashion week this year.
‘Pret-a-Portea was an ingenious idea,’ says Harpers & Queen lifestyle editor Rachel Meddowes. ‘Tea is really fashionable at the moment but people either do really traditional or really trendy – no one else had taken elements from the catwalks like this.’