Five girlfriends and I visited the Sanderson Hotel on Saturday 18th February for a 25th birthday celebration.
The Alice in Wonderland theme is fantastic and very well executed, although it could maybe be a tad more experimental considering the crazy antics that occur in the book and Disney movie.
The food was AMAZING. I was ‘Hank Marvin’ after skipping breakfast in my rush to get to the train station in time and the sandwiches and scones really hit the spot.
The tea selection was great, I had the ‘Mad Hatter’ which was a green tea that tasted of mango and pomegranate, very light and refreshing. We also sampled the ‘Cheshire Cat’ with its chocolate and orange notes which was lovely.
I was well catered for as a vegetarian. I got given a different selection of savoury snacks to the rest of the girls and they were all yummy and extremely moreish.
The one thing that really let the Sanderson down was the service, and it wasn’t any of the waiting staffs fault. The staff who served us were lovely, polite and friendly but there simply was not enough of them! We waited 10 minutes after being sat for anyone to come to us for drinks, our sandwiches then arrived before we even got our drinks, the teas we ordered never came so we had to ask for them again and even then they were brought over without milk and we had to wait another 10 minutes to catch a member of staff.
You could see how busy they were, it wasn’t like they were stood around talking or ignoring us on purpose, they were running around like headless chickens trying to ensure every guest had a good experience.
Either we were unlucky and on this particular day they had a few people pull sickies on them and couldn’t get cover, or the Sanderson do not rota enough staff in order to maximise profits, and I really hope it is not the latter!
At £56 a head plus £12 a cocktail, my party of girls agreed that is was not really worth the money, purely based on service. They also charge a 15% service charge which is slightly above the average in London. I am a generous tipper having worked as a waitress myself for over 6 years but when you are paying these prices you just expect a bit more.
I just want to emphasise again that the staff who were there were great. The food was delicious, as were the cocktails, so kudos to the chefs and bartenders, and the waiting staff really were working their hardest.
The garden area outside was lovely as was the inside of the hotel. You really don’t expect to walk into such a beautiful interior when you arrive as the outside does not look like much.
There was a good amount of jam and cream provided for the scones, something that may seem ridiculous (I’m laughing as I write this) but the scone-jam-cream ratio is crucial to me and can really make or break an afternoon tea!
The sugar cubes being in a music box and the menu being inside a vintage book were both lovely touches, as where the vials of tea that came so you could make an informed decision based not only on a written description of the tea, but also the smell and look of the tea leaves.
Of course I was in the company of some of the greatest people on Earth (biased, but I love my besties) so the afternoon was always going to be wonderful!
I give our experience of The Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel a 3/5. The theme, atmosphere, food and drinks were great, and it’s good as a novelty outing for a special occasion. However it missed the mark on service due to, in my opinion, being understaffed and we all agreed it wasn’t very good value for money. We wouldn’t pay that amount to dine here again based on our experience.
Let me know what your experiences were at the Sanderson if you’ve been, or if you have any recommendations of where I should go next or somewhere you’ve really been wanting to try that you want me to test out!
– neonwanderlust xo