Tags: mad hatter london, tea in london, family friendly london, sanderson hotel in London, child friendly hotels in london
By Kristan Schiller
Originally created to coincide with last year’s launch of Tim Burton’s film Alice in Wonderland, The Mad Hatter’s Tea was not designed to be a permanent fixture at the über-chic Sanderson Hotel. But given its unexpected popularity amongst ladies (and apparently little ladies), it has become a lasting entity of its own and a must on the afternoon tea circuit for those visiting London.
On a recent trip, I had the opportunity to take my UK-based nieces (Isabel, 7, and Amelia, 5) for what turned out to be a treat the three of us will surely never forget.
I had stayed at the Sanderson on previous trips to London and had always enjoyed the glam factor (GQ even calls it “the hippest hotel in the world”). I had, however, never entered these hip, hallowed grounds with anyone under the age of 21.
Our experience began the minute we entered the hotel, which is just off of Oxford Street in the West End. It’s tricky for even the most sophisticated Londoner to pass through the hippest-hotel-in-the-world’s lobby without being wowed by the design, so I indulged the girls as they rushed to toss themselves onto the lip-shaped tomato red couch and climbed up into the “see-through” swinging chair in the lobby. They immediately endeared themselves to the concierge and other guests as we made our way to Suka, the hotel’s Malaysian restaurant where tea is served when eating outdoors in the open-aired Courtyard Garden is not an option.
As I was officially taking on the parenting duties for the afternoon, I abstained from the glass of bubbly that’s included in the price (though there’s a no-champagne price as well) and indulged in a cup of chamomile instead. Isabel and Amelia both wanted hot chocolate and were all giggles when our charming waiter kneeled down to eye-level to take their order.
After hot chocolate and my cast-iron pot of tea came a multi-tiered china cake-stand full of treats. The bottom tier included traditional scones (with the extra touch of being dusted with sugar) along with multi-colored finger sandwiches (and despite my nieces believing the bread was colored with “something fake” the waiter assured us that the coloring was au naturel and derived from saffron and spinach).
Pastries filled the second level, including a hazelnut and passion fruit tart (a bit much for the palate of my young nieces) and a White Rabbit’s pocket watch made entirely of chocolate. The multi-layered Victoria sponge cake – with the words “Eat Me” scrawled in icing across the top - certainly looked pretty but again, was a bit sweet.
Most intriguing— but surprisingly yummy--was a small bottle with a “Drink Me” label that contained a smoothie made from bananas, peanuts and sea salt. Finally – at the very top – a teacup with an assortment of lollipops including a pineapple flavored variety that turned from hot to cold in our mouths. Sampling the different confections kept all three of us amused and delighted, as if really in Wonderland.
“I wish I could live here,” said Amelia as she gazed around and sucked on her pineapple pop.
“Me too,” chimed Isabel. “And all our friends - and Mommy and Daddy and everyone we love.”
“Yes, and anyone who needs a place to live,” returned Amelia. “Wouldn’t that be nice, Auntie Kristan?”
Yes, I said to the girls, that would be lovely. As we hopped into the taxi back to my sister’s flat, I had visions of Alice disappearing down the rabbit hole and into her world of make-believe.
Mad Hatter’s Tea is served daily, from 2:30-5:30pm at the Sanderson London.