Having been to a few standard London afternoon teas I went with my friend Bridget to the Sanderson hotel who can lay claim to London’s most wonderfully whimsical afternoon tea with an Alice in Wonderland theme. The tea was initially launched in conjunction with Tim Burton’s remake of Alice in Wonderland but as the tea continued to be such a hit they revamped it and carried it on and now it is better than ever.
The hotel serve the tea in the courtyard of the hotel. Amongst a small Japanese garden with a fountain the sleek marble tables are Sleek marble tables sheltered by large umbrellas and warmed (well sort of) by outdoor heaters. This gives a chilled garden party or picnic vibe, without actually being totally outside, I have to be honest thought I was pretty chilly in March! Definitely leave this tea for the warmer months of the year if possible.
I loved the attention to the smallest details, the menu was concealed in a vintage book (although did find it a bit odd that it wasn't actually a copy of Alice in Wonderland) and the sugar cubes are inside a musical box. The crockery, as you can see from the pictures, is a matching set for each person which I really loved and even the teas are presented in glass bottles with stoppers on a tiny mirrored tray, the King and Queen teapots even had paper crowns!
As well as the usual tea selection there are some loose teas especially created including
rhubarb and custard, strawberry, mint choc chip and apple pie. The apple pie tea tasted exactly how it should, warm and spiced and not sickly but still sweet enough. The strawberry tea, which was Bridget's choice, smelled absolutely delicious.
The sandwiches were adorably rolled up like chocolate mini rolls, definitely no bog-standard finger sandwich here! The fillings are ham and mustard, egg mayo and smoked salmon. The rye bread was a little dry and I dislike egg mayo but the ham sandwiches on tomato bread were a real winner for me! The bottom layer of the afternoon tea contained both sweet and savoury scones which was a nice touch but I would have preferred two sweet scones to be honest, the garlic butter that came with the savoury scones was delicious though. The roasted vegetable mini quiches were nice but not really my thing, I am much more of a sweetie girl.
The cakes were by far my favourite part of the tea, I had a drink me bottle with passionfruit and coconut pannacotta, strawberry marshmallows, a mug made of chocolate filled with matcha tea mousse and a cheesecake which was like an egg as it had a yellow mango 'yolk' in the centre which was amazing and delicious. The sweet carrot meringues on the top of the tea tower were a fun extra but I didn't like the taste at all (swish that away with some tea pronto)! We were invited over to the self-serve jelly buffet but after all we had already eaten is was difficult enough to wobble myself to reception, let alone eat any more so we didn't indulge.
We found the service to be good overall but a bit slow especially with the champagne in the beginning and the bill at the end, both times we had to ask more than once for some assistance which, on a Wednesday at 5pm when the tea wasn't particularly busy, probably not the best indication of how the service will be at a peak time, I would say don't expect to go on a weekend and be served speedily.
For overall experience and a change from the normal style afternoon tea then I definitely recommend this tea but some of the food and the service could definitely be improved.