For more afternoon tea reviews see:
Best Afternoon Tea in London.
Afternoon Tea Information
The Courtyard Garden
50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG
Nearest Tube Station:
Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road.
Use Journey Planner to plan your route by public transport.
Days and Times: Daily 11am to 5.30pm.
Cost: From £35 per person.
No fancy dress (costumes). Smart casual.
Reservations: 020 7300 5588
Music: No background music.
Sanderson London Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea Review
Tea is served in the courtyard garden in the center of the building which was once where the factory workers had their lunch. Philippe Starck installed a beautifully designed Japanese style garden with dining either side which can be used all year round with carefully positioned heaters in the ceiling. Even though we were sitting outside strangely the only time we felt cold was when the door to the restaurant inside was opened.
Each table is dressed ready with the unique crockery and your napkin is wrapped in a riddle. A vintage book on the table was not just styling as it contained the menu and a nod towards the modern world is included with the hotel's twitter account (@SandersonLDN) and the hashtag to use when tweeting about the tea (#MadHatters). Underneath we found a musical box containing sugar cubes and tongs and the box could be wound up to play music.
There are tables to accommodate large groups and hen parties are popular. We also saw family celebrations and lots of friends enjoying an indulgent afternoon together.
I was immensely impressed by the staff at Sanderson, especially in the restaurant area. While staff are often capable of describing the cake stand, here it was described was absolute love and understanding of what each treat was really like and the best way to eat them. That confidence was really appreciated.
The wonderfully disguised menu does not include the tea options but instead four small glass bottles with stoppers, filled with flavored teas, with a ribbon to label each, are brought to the table for you to choose from. We chose 'Strawberry & Cream' as it suited the occasion so well but there was also 'Rhubarb & Custard', 'Apple Pie' and 'Mint Chocolate'. If you prefer more plain teas there is also a standard black tea and an Earl Grey which we enjoyed afterwards. All are loose leaf teas and are served in a delightful white teapot with a black paper crown. Why a paper crown? Well, as our teapot had a king's face this looked fantastic, and is certainly more playful than practical. Others had a queen teapot which was just as good.
I'm always keen to see how sandwiches can be presented in so many different ways. Here at Sanderson the sandwiches were like mini Swiss rolls. While the fillings were more traditional - smoked Cumbrian ham with wholegrain mustard, cucumber and chive cream cheese, smoked salmon, or egg mayonnaise - the breads were adventurous and included sun-dried tomato bread, spinach bread, dark rye bread and even lemon bread. All were freshly-made and delicious.
As well as sandwiches there is also a mini quiche which was light and fluffy.
The scones fit into the sweet and savory categories as we had a cheese scone served with herb butter, and a chocolate scone served with cream and strawberry preserve.
The top later of the three-tiered cake stand is a colorful wonderland. On the very top we had a striped teacup with pea shoots growing out of it and an exquisite carrot meringue resting on top. Next to the teacup were 'strawberries and cream' marshmallow mushrooms.
I adored the 'Tick Tock' traditional Victoria sponge clock and the teardrop-shaped melting mango cheesecake coated in rainbow patterned white chocolate was divine. The soft mango center was a wonderful surprise and it oozed out like an egg yolk. There was another surprise in the matcha green tea and white chocolate mousse as not only was the dark chocolate teacup edible but there was popping candy inside too!
A 'Drink me' potion came in a small brown glass bottle with a straw and we were advised to suck slowly as there were three flavors to enjoy. Literally everyone in the room had a smile on their face as they tried this delicious treat.
As well as the fabulous cake stand all guests can visit the 'Jelly Wonderland' for unusual fruit jellies made in Victorian jelly molds and presented on a lavish Phillipe Starck cake trolley. There was a clear happiness around the room as we got to indulge in these childlike desserts.
Afternoon tea needs sandwiches, scones, cakes and tea and all yes, all of these elements are here but in a truly unique way. While the afternoon tea changes seasonally I'm sure it will continue to delight.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.