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Wednesday 3 August 2011

Mad Hatter's Tea

Tea for two
4pm is my favourite time of the day. Without fail I drop what I'm doing, make myself a cup of tea and take a few minutes out. The break normally involves something sweet and yummy too, often a biscuit (ok make that two biscuits), cake, flapjack, shortbread, chocolate...hmmm anything I can get my mitts on! It's not a habit I started because it's now trendy. The last few years has seen a huge resurgence in taking afternoon tea but I'm proud that I grew up with it. I've always been a four meals a day kind of girl, breakfast, lunch, teatime and dinner (and I admit, there's normally a treat at elevensees too...so maybe that's five meals a day?)  After school my dad would always have something ready from Greggs for my sisters and I; an iced ring doughnut, apple turnover and sometimes a coconut cheesecake. These days the teatime ritual isn't as fun, I normally enjoy it on my own unless it's the weekend. And one such weekend passed a couple of weeks ago. Whilst researching places to take tea in London I heard about The Mad Hatter's Tea at the Sanderson Hotel. Promising a tea time experience like none you've witnessed before, the entire menu is inspired by Alice in Wonderland ...it sounded like the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon with my best friend as she celebrated her 30th birthday. We've known eachother since we were 16 and everything about the concept of this tea summed us up then and now; we both love daydreaming and fantasies and are suckers for fairytales.

Rainbow sarnies
So what was in this extraordinary tea? After the tea was ordered (I chose Freshmint and she opted for English Breakfast) which was served in gorgeous iron teapots, the type you often get in spas, we were presented with rainbow finger sandwiches made from yellow saffron and green spinach bread. There's not much you can say about a sandwich and infact one finger was too soggy to eat, it just makes you feel like you've at least had something savoury to balance out the forthcoming sugar rush.
Looks yummy....
And of course we had  to start with this Queen of Hearts 'Heart'. Obviously in that appealing shade of pink it looked fabulous but when things look this pretty they don't always live up to expectation. Thankfully it exceeded every single fantasy....
Tastes like the best thing ever!
We both agreed it was one of the tastiest 'dessert' items we've ever eaten and it didn't even contain a sprinkling of chocolate. Inside was a smooth, creamy, fluffy, melt in the mouth strawberry mouse on a light sponge base. It was divine and memorable and without a doubt the best afternoon tea item I've ever eaten!
Excitement mounts....
And in true Alice style there was a concoction on the table baring a label with 'Drink Me' on it. Promising to taste like Apple Pie, Lemon Curd and English Toffee, you're supposed to experience each flavour as you sip through the straw. Nice concept but in truth it looked and tasted like Pepto Bismol but don't let that put you off...
Where's the rabbit, we have his watch!
The chocolate and coffee sponge watch was missing its chain but luckily it didn't need one. Like a gateaux it was rich, sweet and felt a bit naughty.
Lollies to lick
To let you reminisce about childhood memories there are also yummy lollies - the hazelnut praline pop which you have to put in your mouth in one go - do not attempt to bite it, and a blueberry lollipop.

 One thing I'm abit confused about is that when I booked last month the price of the tea was £25 which I thought was an absolute bargain for such an amazing spread but when I checked today it had risen to £35....a very steep rise. Luckily I found this special offer so you can experience a Mad Hatter's Tea for £26.25 if you go before September 30th though sadly it is only valid Monday-Thursday.
So it's actually very much a luxury treat, best reserved for very especial occasions. Infact there's no reason why you can't make a whole daytrip out of your visit. Staying at the hotel is impossible unless you're a lottery winner (rooms start at over £500 for the night with the penthouse costing a staggering £3k per night.) But alas you can still live the highlife inside this incredible boutique hotel for free by enjoying its stunning reception area. On entering you are greeted by a Dali inspired lips sofa...it is my ultimate dream to own this sofa, it is pure design magnificence.
One day I will own this sofa...
But it is not the only piece of beautiful furniture...The Sanderson is chair heaven.
...and this chair!
This swing chair had a soft fluffy cushion as a seat and venturing inside it was like a mini adventure in itself.
Sci-fi seat
This chair was the most unique, it's a kind of capsule which you can lie back in and be closed up. It was solid and hard but even so, surprisingly comfortable.
Top model
I'm not going to share all the chairs (some should be kept a secret that you'll only discover if you visit the hotel) but this one above was inside a kind of games room. I love this photo. Rukia is sooooooo photogenic she looks amazing in all her photos but this one is just pure class.
What a wall!

Every aspect of the hotel is mind boggling...mainly because from the outside it's the most non-descript looking concreate block, but as soon as you step inside you're transformed to another world. From the loos to the bar chairs to the space themed lifts that make you go 'wow', it's such an exciting place to visit. Pop in next time if you are ever near Oxford Street, it's just a short walk and is worth every footstep getting there.

Mad Hatter's tea is now also available as a takeaway picnic (£30) from The Sanderson and it's sister hotel St Martin's Lane and comes with maps and bicycle hire so you can discover your own wonderland in Londinium.

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