December 18 2010
It’s not just the British who like their afternoon tea: the Germans make a big thing of it, too. In the best hotels – and the Adlon is the grandest and most famous hotel in Berlin – a lavish afternoon tea is a ritual much enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
The Adlon has a fascinating if somewhat chequered history: everyone from Marlene Dietrich to Hermann Goering passed through here in its 1920s and 30s heyday. I hadn’t sampled tea here until a few winters ago when I met up with a friend who was working on the Roman Polanski film The Ghost which, although set in London and the US, was being filmed in the German capital because of Polanski’s ongoing legal problems. My friend suggested we meet during a break in shooting.
It was a bitterly cold February day but the Adlon’s sumptuously restored Lobby lounge and bar was warm and bright with splendidly comfortable chairs and sofas and a pianist tinkling away in the background. Tea was the full package including finger sandwiches, scones and chocolate cake with whipped cream as well as flutes of champagne to wash down the Earl Grey. I went back last month and the cake was just as good the second time around, though it might be advisable to take a stiff walk afterwards to work off the calories.
Reservations for tea are advisable.