I hadn’t expected Judy Garland to appear at an Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea in central London, but here she was.
Well, the memory of her, anyway.
As I opened a child’s jewellery box to reveal sugar cubes inside a tiny ballerina started turning to the sounds of Somewhere Over The Rainbow. I’d already been smiling as I was excited that my Mad Hatter’s Tea Party experience was about to begin. Hearing that tune in that unmistakable music box way made my smile light up all the more.
Sanderson London’s Mad Hatter’s Tea Party has been a special treat for Alice in Wonderland fans for a few years now.
To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s magical book, the menu had a bit of a makeover in 2015, and this year I finally had the chance to treat my taste buds to an afternoon tea I had admired from afar for so long.
Alice in Wonderland Special Teas
As someone who has a cupboard dedicated to various varieties of tea at home I am a bit of a sucker for the stuff. So I loved the way Sanderson London has created five exclusive tea blends inspired by Alice and some of her fellow characters in Wonderland.
The teas arrive in pretty glass vials on a silver tray with playing cards describing their individual blends, and I’m invited to remove the stoppers so I can breathe in their scent before committing.
My usual tea of choice is a white tea, so I was tempted by The White Rabbit with china white silver needles infused with white grapefruit, vanilla and almond white chrysanthemums, but I was torn. The other teas just sounded so good too.
The Mad Hatter had green tea infused with passion fruit, guava and mango, the Alice is made from China black tea infused with blackcurrant, vanilla, caramel, citrus, bergamot, blue cornflowers and blue mallow flowers, while the Queen of Hearts is a red rose congu infused with red rose petals with hints of vanilla and chocolate.
As I don’t like marmalade the only tea that was off the table for me was the Cheshire Cat, a marmalade orange oolong infused with chocolate and hugging orange, but as someone who adopted a ginger cat I almost felt compelled to get it anyway.
In the end I went for the Alice, and she was delicious. Though alongside the Perrier Jouet champagne and the liquid sweets in an apothecary bottle on the cake stand Alice wasn’t the only thing whispering Drink Me that afternoon.
Sanderson’s Savouries and Alice in Wonderland Themed Cakes
While it’s usually obvious that you should only have something light to eat for lunch before an afternoon tea, in this case I would like to offer some advice.
Do not eat lunch at all. Avoid even having a snack after breakfast if you can, because the savouries and sweets that will be coming out of the Sanderson London kitchen are delicious and anything you ate earlier will feel like such a waste of stomach space.
Even if you somehow manage to somehow not to feel completely full with what is already on the menu, they are more than happy to bring you extras of anything and encourage you to have more of your favourites.
While the cakes are the stars of the show the savouries should also be, well, savoured and include a white crab éclair and a scotch egg comprised of smoked salmon, quail egg and caviar.
Then out come the cakes. Red velvet ladybirds cakes mix with coffee flavoured Pocket Watch Macaroons, blue caterpillars and magic marshmallow mushrooms among other Alice themed sweets.
It’s not only delicious it’s all oh so pretty, from the presentation of the cakes themselves to the bespoke Alice in Wonderland themed crockery from Shoreditch’s Luna & Curious. I even smile when I see the takeaway box I’m presented with at the end.
A takeaway box I don’t have far to take. When my afternoon tea is over I wave goodbye to the table of sweet young girls who have just sat down to start their tea, walk to the etched mirror framed elevators and head on up to my room.
Why You Should Stay at Sanderson London After Tea Time
Last week I shared what it is like to stay at the Mondrian London, another beautiful boutique hotel option on London’s South Bank. Sanderson London and Mondrian London are both part of the Morgans Hotel Group which also includes the Mondrian Los Angeles, Morgans in New York and Clift in San Francisco among others.
As anyone who has stayed at a Morgans Hotel Group property knows these hotels have a style all their own. Each one is individual and yet there’s something that makes you feel like you’ve arrived at a Morgans hotel when you walk through those doors.
Sanderson London is no exception.
From the outside this 1950s landmark building doesn’t look all that exciting. But with so many things in life here it’s what’s inside that counts.
Originally designed by Philippe Starck this five star luxury boutique hotel is filled with quirky touches that make me smile including a copy of the surrealist Mae West’s Salvador Dali lips sofa in the lobby. The Alice in Wonderland vibe continues in the intimate cocktail lounge The Purple Bar with stunning Venetian mirrors and purple Queen Anne chairs, while being an Aussie I couldn’t help saying ‘straight to the pool room!’ upon seeing the gorgeous Billiard Room with its dramatic stained glass windows.
The guest rooms in Sanderson London were given a makeover in 2014 by interior designer Tim Andreas but keep the stylish and slightly off centre feel. My bed being a case in point with its jaunty angle in the middle of the room.
The hotel’s location in London’s West End is also a bonus. Oxford Circus is about a five-minute walk away, which of course means easy access by foot to Soho, Regent Street, Bond Street and more.
And so it is that after dropping my takeaway box of treats upstairs I slip off my heels, pop on my walking shoes and head off to have some London adventures, with the smile of a woman who knows she’ll be ending the night somewhere special.
Amanda Woods stayed as a guest of Sanderson London but all opinions remain her own.
To book your own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Sanderson London here.
Heading to London and fancy checking out some more amazing afternoon teas? Here’s a piece I wrote for Escape which appeared in News Corp’s Australian Sunday papers, all about fabulous afternoon teas in London.