THE HYPE20130622_132556

Guests are invited to “tumble down the rabbit hole” in this unusual take on traditional London afternoon tea at the Sanderson Hotel – themed as a “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party.” I had girly guests from outside London visiting, so it seemed like the perfect Saturday afternoon treat.


Don’t get me wrong – the presentation is exactly on the mark. We were all reduced to giggling like children by the perfectly carrot shaped macarons and the individual “drink me” potions – not to mention the tiny mushroom marshmallows and chocolate tea cups. Unfortunately, it just didn’t taste as good as it looked. The savoury scones were OK and the sandwiches were fine, but the cakes were a bit unremarkable and nearly all cream based which just became a bit sickly. By the end we were crying out for something a bit more solid – a carrot or fruit cake. The clock-face victoria sponge was delicious, but it was notably the only element we all raved about. There’s a fun looking unlimited “jelly wonderland” to finish, but the consistency of the jelly was very odd, and it was the last thing we needed after all of the super sweet cake.

THE DRINK20130622_124641

We went for the champagne option with a glass of Laurent Perrier champagne, which was well worth the £10 a glass. The highlight though is the crazy teas – with leaves provided in miniature bottles in advance so you can smell them before choosing – we went for strawberries and cream and mint choc chip, neither as sickly as they sound and a nice change. Don’t worry though, they have English Breakfast too!

THE FUN20130622_131136

The theme is excellent and the designers Luna and Curious are definitely the stars of the show. I loved the querky crockery, individual tea pots and the magical music box sugar container. It’s also very atmospheric in the half outside/half inside conservatory. That said despite the fun, frippery and frivolity of the setting it still managed to feel like quite a stuffy environment – the hen party on the table next to us were quick to hide their penis shaped straws on arrival.


It’s an amazing idea and definitely has the wow factor in theory, and even when you first arrive. But in practice it just didn’t blow us away. It felt a bit ‘superficially excellent’ – I found a hair baked into a marshmallow (quite a serious crime for tea at this level) and the maitre d’ made a song and dance of admonishing punishment in the kitchen with a cucumber – but only brought one complimentary drink to share between four of us as an apology. It was good, girly fun, but the balance of the different elements and the taste of the food just wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t terrible, but you can definitely do better in London for the price, at over £50 a head (including champagne, and a cheeky 15% service charge).

GO THERE IF…20130622_123854

You’ve got a sweet tooth and go for style over substance…


You have any special dietary requirements – they embarrassingly announced our tables’ individual needs to the whole room at the start…


There’s a different riddle at every place setting to launch you straight into the tweedle dum and tweedle dee mentality.


Check out Chicken in a Cherry Sauce, Macarons and Mischief and In Pursuit Of Food.

For more photos, see katemeout on Flickr. 

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