Brunch Review: Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson Hotel

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


Whittlebury Hall

If you’re looking for the ultimate girly mini break then Whittlebury Hall Hotel & Spa is where you need to book. Me and my friend Louise stayed this past Saturday night and it was AMAZING.

You drop off your bags at the hotel reception and then head straight to check in at the spa, where you will spend the next 9 hours in a fluffy white towelling robe over your swimsuit/bikini.

We booked in for an hour long wellbeing massage, a luxury pedicure and the rasul mud treatment. 

The massage was amazing, we were so relaxed that after we headed to the spas relaxation room for a nap.

The pedicure was great too, you get a full leg scrub and massage, cuticle care, nail shaping and great choice of polish colours that are guaranteed to last at least 2 weeks. 

The rasul mud treatment is great as you get exclusive use of the whole room for the 45 minute treatment. You apply the diferent muds to your body and face and then relax in blue tiled seats for 20 minutes until it begins to ‘rain’ from the ceiling. You use the provided salt scrub to remove all the mud and then use the lotion provided to moisturise before lying down on warm benches between towels to let all the goodness absorb into your skin. Not only did we feel incredibly clean and soft afterwards but it was also lots of fun! There was only 2 of us but you can book for up to 4 people and it is such a giggle, perfect for small hen do’s or a girlfriends birthday weekend.

You get a buffet lunch on the day of arrival that was delicious. You all go into the dining rooms in your robes so there is a really relaxed vibe and you don’t at any point lose the chilled out effect of the spa. We both had the soup and moussaka and then Louise had salmon and vegetables and I had salad and new potatoes. We didn’t take pictures because honestly we were so relaxed and having such a good time we didn’t think about it!

After our pedicures we headed up to our room where our luggage was waiting for us and got ready for dinner. 

It’s nice to be able to get dressed up for dinner and cocktails – we took a few obligatory selfies before heading down to Astons restaurant.

We started with a glass of white wine for Lou and the Coney Island cooler cocktail for me. Later on we ordered non alcoholic pina coladas which were made with real coconut cream and so delicious! For dinner  Louise ordered the scallops and lamb shank whilst I had gruyere brulee with asparagus and beetroot risotto with goats cheese. We both had sticky toffee pudding for dessert. They had good vegetarian options for me and the portion sizes were perfect. We both went back to our room feeling super full and after a hard days relaxation we were both fast asleep by 11pm!

We had ordered breakfast to our room the next morning, it is a £5pp surcharge to have it brought up and in my opinion 100% worth it! Such a delicious spread that you get to eat from the comfort of your bed – the perfect way to start a Sunday!

After breakfast and check out from the hotel we headed back to the spa. Fresh robes and towels on, we spent a couple of hours lazing by the pool reading magazines, popping in and out of the sauna and pool, which is complete with jacuzzi jets at one end.

We then decided to do a few final circuits of the heat and ice experience. Steam rooms and saunas of different heats and humidities, followed by cold compresses, handfuls of ice rubbed into the skin or (for the very brave) ice cold plunge showers! Combined with the hydrotherapy pools and plenty of fruit infused drinking water this experience is equal parts relaxing and invigorating.

We were going to order an afternoon tea before leaving but with our holiday only 8 weeks away and the copious amounts of food we had already consumed we opted for smoothies instead. These were both delicious and surprisingly filling.

We were sad to leave but will be returning later in the year!


Toowoomba Carnival Of Flowers

This Saturday we had the day booked off to visit the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers 2014 and we bought tickets to the adjoining Ergon Energy Food & Wine Festival.

It was pretty busy when we arrived at 10:20am but we found a good parking space easily and walked the 2 minutes to Upper Queens Park. The park itself was in full bloom, they must have had so many gardeners working on the flower beds in preparation to the festivities!




IMG_3962.JPGJust outside the park there was a funfair set up, complete with rides, ring toss and candy floss (the Aussies call it fairy floss!)
We went on the Saturday so we also got to see the classic car competition! Bailey was oo-ing and ah-ing at engines but my favourite was the pretty pink Cadillac and the pistachio VW combi. There were some absolute beauts that would be perfect for a glamourous roadtrip… *starts daydreaming*






IMG_3918.JPGThen we wandered over to the Food + Wine Festival. We got a free souvenir tea towel on arrival which made me super happy because I love crap like that. There were tons of stalls with food and drink, most of them offering free samples, so we wondered around nibbling at things for a while. There were tents set up with shows throughout the day, gardening talks and tv chef demonstrations. There were also floral artworks displayed all round and on the main stage there was live music all day.




IMG_3948.JPGMy favourite free activity was making my own floral headband with fresh flowers! They give you a plain alice band, selection of freshly cut blooms and pipe cleaners to attach them with. I had loads of fun and wore my headband with pride for the rest of the day!



Later in the afternoon was the big parade! Again, we were lucky to have chosen to go on the Saturday, I didn’t know when I planned it but it’s the only day during carnival that they have the parade! Some of the floats were really clever and awesome, and then there were marching bands and acrobats inbetween. Lots of fun for a family day out 🙂
















There was so much to do and see and do that we missed quite a lot, we didn’t go round and do a tour of the winning gardens from the garden competition even though I saw pictures and they looked incredible! We also had work really early on the Sunday so had to leave before getting to see the fireworks or evening concert which I’m sure would have been awesome!

All in all it was just a nice day out, the weather was sunny and hot, everyone was friendly, the food was tasty and everything was prettified with flowers!











Would definitely recommend it to anyone who might be in the Toowoomba area next September, maybe get a ticket for the whole weekend and stay in the area to really make the most of it 🙂