(Bloomberg) -- London is in the middle of an explosion in hotel openings. In the next few years, more than 183,000 rooms will be available around town; that’s more than anywhere in the world outside China, more even than Orlando or Las Vegas.

In the booming luxury segment, competition is fierce. Hoteliers have to figure out ways to make themselves stand out. The recently opened 1 Hotel Mayfair off of Green Park is making a statement with food. Walk through the plant-filled lobby—under the vast, living chandelier made from hanging moss that transports you to a rain forest—and you’ll arrive at the restaurant Dovetale, led by star chef Tom Sellers. 

His modern European menu includes many items to recommend: among them a sublime artichoke carpaccio doused in black truffles and a golden, whole chicken, basted with bacon butter that would outshine most holiday birds and served with a grilled caesar salad.

The most thrilling dish on the Dovetale menu, hands down, is the knickerbocker glory, a sundae made tableside from a cart that costs as much as most people’s cars. The price tag of the trolley is more than £27,500, or about $34,500. The restaurant spent more than £55,000 on the equipment so they could have two of them roam the room.

Sellers is adamant in supporting the cost. “Excellent, inspiring design is always worth investing in, and already the knickerbocker glory at Dovetale has become something of a cult dish, undoubtedly in part due to the visual impact the trolley makes in the room,” he says. “It’s fun, playful and beautiful, but it’s also incredibly practical for our chefs to use, which is obviously an equally important component.”

The carts were created by Seymourpowell, the London-based design company whose best known project is the Virgin Galactic spacecraft’s high-tech interior.

While the cost of the carts—nicknamed Apollo 11 and 13 for the iconic NASA spacecrafts—is less than the proposed $450,000 ticket price for space traveling tourists, it’s still a lot of money for a piece of restaurant equipment, especially at a time when operators are concerned about the ongoing high cost of ingredients and staff; food inflation is in the UK sat at 14.9% in July, compared with a year earlier. (The company won’t confirm the exact total price of the carts, except to say that it spent less than £67,000.)

They’re designed like nostalgic ice-cream carts, with brass detailing and a knickerbocker glory sign in an old-fashioned puffy font; the contraption looks like something Mary Poppins conjured. “The trolley is at its core a functional workhorse of the restaurant,” says Alex Shayle, a Seymourpowell product experience designer. It allowed the company “to create a bespoke solution that delivers in both form and function.”   

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The knickerbocker glory sundae has been a darling of London restaurants this summer, featured on menus like the re-opened seafood palace Manzi’s in Soho and at the Parlour in Fortnum and Mason. The dessert is thought to be named after New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel, a long-gone property that was supposedly honored by a parfait in its trademark pink and white colors. Now knickerbocker glories are festooned with sauces, toppings and ice cream flavors in a broad rainbow of colors.

At Dovetale, the sundaes go for £18. Diners are presented with a dim sum-styled checklist to choose options like flavors—including the bright red swirled raspberry ripple; birthday cake with chunks of the confection in vanilla ice cream; mint chocolate chip—and sauces that coat the glass before the ice cream is scooped in, including spiced rum and chocolate fudge. For toppings, there’s large puffy marshmallows, strips of dried fruit and fruit jelly, and garnishes like candied pecan crumbs, sprinkles and pop rocks candies.

Decisions made, the process starts. First the server chills the sundae dish. Jets installed in the cart emit a smoky blast of carbon dioxide that instantaneously frosts each glass. From there, the sundaes are constructed in towering layers, before the extravagant dessert is presented to guests. 

This isn’t the company’s first foray into restaurants—nor desserts. Designers have worked with famed chef Heston Blumenthal to make kitchen equipment including his high-styled dessert trolley at the Fat Duck in Bray, which looks like a dollhouse from the outside until it’s cranked open to display an endless assortment of petit fours. Recently it worked on the bottle design for premium gin Black Juniper. The bottle costs £295.

So what’s it like to order a knickerbocker glory at Dovetale? Actually , even if the end result is the kind of sundae you could get at any decent ice-cream parlor, without the  bells and whistles. Although the fruit flavors  of ice cream were more striking,  I went for a chocolate theme because it’s almost fall: fudge sauce for my first layer and fudge pieces to top the birthday-cake-flavored ice cream. Plus marshmallows—always get the marshmallows. (Pro tip: Don’t get the chewy fruits, which turn extra tough when they come in contact with ice cream and freeze up.) The sundae is topped with a tower of whipped cream and a brandied cherry with a little bowl for the pit. 

Even if I could make a similar version at home without the carts, for about .001% of the cost of the contraptions, I never will. Just thinking about the trolley wheeling up to the table  and the whoosh of the CO2 jet makes me mentally want to hurry up and finish my main course so its time for dessert.

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