When a friend suggested afternoon tea as a fun activity, images of grand hotels and pretentious, well-to-do people sipping daintily from china cups came to mind; a truly British, and typically upper-class, tradition.
However, the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson offered a different, quirky take on traditional afternoon tea. In collaboration with design collective Luna & Curious, they invite you to “tumble down the rabbit hole” and “explore a wonderful world of tea.” At £38, which actually seemed cheaper than most afternoon tea packages in London, I was surprised at the value for money.
On arrival you’re shown to a small courtyard that is sheltered – you don’t feel as though you are shut away inside a hotel dining room and there are indoor heaters to keep you warm.
The tables are set beautifully, with each person receiving a different design of either zebras, birdcages, carousels or ticking clocks on their sandwich plate and teacup. The napkins are individually wrapped with a riddle and your menu is given to you inside a vintage book.
You are then given a choice of different flavored teas; you can sample the smell of these from small glass caddies. You can also order regular English tea (if your tastes are more traditional), and it’s all brought to the table in teapots adorned with kings and queens, a music box filled with sugar cubes and a ballerina that twirled to a twinkly Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
As for the food, there are small sandwiches, each with a different filling and flavoured bread, which we found could be restocked as many times as we liked at no extra charge.
The sweet selection was intricate; the attention to detail was perfect. Marshmallow mushrooms, ‘Tick Tock’ Victoria sponge, white chocolate mousse served in a chocolate tea cup with an edible playing card and a ‘Drink Me’ potion are just a few of the delights on offer.
It was an excellent way to spend an afternoon with friends, well and truly exceeding our expectations.
Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NG. Every day from 12.30pm to 5.30pm. From £38.
Photography by: Holly Oxley