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I think regular readers all know by now that I do like cake. Even my Twitter bio says it loud and clear:

Writer, fashion editor, blogger & dilettante. English exile. Lover of cake.

I didn’t get that love of cake from the ether: my mother and her regular cook-entire-chapters of Saint Delia’s Book of Cakes sessions during my childhood are entirely to blame.

So imagine the whole-hearted glee bursting out all over when, back in October, my mother and I were given free rein at the afternoon tea which takes place at Istanbul’s newly-restored and renovated Pera Palace Hotel. The hotel is a proper slice of sophisticated early 20th century Istanbul, most famous for its connection with Agatha Cristie and the Orient Express, all newly buffed up and polished for the new millennium.

We took a little tour before tea, duly admiring the beautiful restoration and taking in the historic detailing. (It was founded in 1892 and was the first building in Istanbul to have electricity as well as its first electric lift.) But really, all we were thinking as we looked at the spacious bedrooms and their perfectly appointed bathrooms was CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE CAKE.

We were a little early for tea, but no matter. We hopped from foot to foot right by the entrance to the Kubbeli Saloon where tea is served, beadily observing the trays of CAKE being carried across the parquet floor by uniformed staff and laid out on the central table. Eventually my CAKE yearning was picked up on by the staff who guided us to a table set for four – clearly they had got our measureĀ  – and we settled in for the duration.

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Above: The Kubbeli Saloon some sixty years ago – it still looks very similar. The Dalek-like demi-globes in the ceiling are actually a sophisticated early mechanical air conditioning system, as well as acting as light wells.

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Not being complete CAKE-obsessed barbarians, we started with sandwiches, both cucumber and smoked salmon, which were in a case of savouries displayed handily to our left.

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[Top tip: keep an eagle eye out for the elderly tea-takers who are no slouches, intent on getting their moneys-worth by pouncing on new delicacy deliveries and then in one fell swoop piling their individual plates with the ENTIRE contents of each salver. We were kept rapt by their seemingly-bottomless stomachs and sandwich-pilfering antics. The extremely glamorous, label-dripping, Russian clientele also make for divine people-watching.]

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On offer is a glorious melange of English sandwiches, exquisite French patisserie and very sweet, unctuous Turkish pastries.

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None of that finicky individual pots of jam & cream nonsense here. There are gravy boats full.

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To my shame I ate ALL this plateful (and quite a lot more). It would be very rude after all not to try everything. Twice. Our excuse was that we were flying back that evening so this would be our supper too. Ahem.

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One could, of course, prolong the Pera Palace experience by moving next door to the storied Orient Bar for a digestif.

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but, looking like pythons that had swallowed a goat, we were able only to find the energy to roll down the magnificent hall staircase, into a waiting taxi and back to our hotel to take a little restorative nap.

www.perapalace.com

LLG & her long-suffering mama were greedy guests of The Pera Palace Hotel for afternoon tea.

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10 comments

Reply

Yum. Is there really anything else to say?

Reply

Nope! LLGxx

Reply

WONDERFUL!! I’m soo jealous. Have decided that I like your blog for the fashion but I LOVE your blog for the food. xx

Reply

Thank you! Fashion is simple for me – it’s my career, after all, but food is not, so it’s extra amazing when readers like you say you like my food work. Thank you so much for giving a lovely fillip to my day! LLGxx

Reply

Dear LLG,

Curse your bones for making me drool into my keyboard at work. Look at the sheen on those eclairs! Good quality chocolate went into that glaze.

Now I must go find some eclairs and my brain will make the CAKECAKECAKECAKECAKECAKE chant until I do.

PS. Thank you for the pretty pictures.

Reply

Thank you for shining a light on this absolutely incredible-looking afternoon tea in Istanbul – and what a wondeful blog !

Reply

so decadent!!! just beautiful!! makes me want to escape into the des(s)ert sunset…

Reply

Swoon. One of my favorite cities. That architecture, the gleaming silver, the cakes and pastries, the beautiful china–heaven.
Brilliant photos, LLG. How I wish I’d taken them!

Reply

Hi There LLG
Your afternoon tea sounds amazing! I actually live in istanbul and was looking for a place like this – do you mind me asking how much it was?
Many thanks!

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