When I have a visitor, there are a few things I make sure to plan. The sightseeing depends on their interests (museums or parks? Crown Jewels or shopping?), but certain food experiences are essential. Within the categories that I consider required eating — pub grub, afternoon tea and a curry — there is still a huge amount of variety. For pubs, a special treat is the Michelin-starred Harwood Arms, which serves elevated British fare and boasts an extensive drinks list. But if you just want to grab a pint and say you’ve been to a pub, neighbourhood pubs are on practically every corner. Similarly, there is an unbelievable range of Afternoon Tea experiences, starting around £15 per person and going above £70 per person.
I have been lucky enough to receive visitors from near and far since moving to London, and taking them for Afternoon Tea is one of my favourite parts. No surprise there! My friend Laura visited me from Washington, DC and was totally relaxed about exploring London. I decided to shake things up a bit, even though the traditional afternoon teas are lovely, and I booked the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at the Sanderson Hotel.
Tea selection, Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
It turns out that Afternoon Tea and Alice in Wonderland go together perfectly, because they are both meant to be over-the-top. The Sanderson has done just that and tended to every little detail to make the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party a charming reflection of Alice’s whimsical, otherworldly Wonderland.
Garden decor at The Sanderson Hotel
Be sure to request a garden table, where the water feature is full of brightly coloured
flamingos croquet mallets and the decor is on-theme. We were completely comfortable under intense heat lamps, and while I can’t imagine anyone needing them, bright pink blankets were also draped over the chairs.
The tea sandwiches and pastries were carefully decorated, as well as being delicious. My kids loved the experience and the servers were completely charming with them, so it is definitely a family-friendly experience.
Ladies Who Lunch
Tips for Bringing Kids to Afternoon Tea
- Make a reservation and specify how many high chairs you will need
- Set expectations for the children and their Tea Party Adventure
- Sandwiches must be eaten before pastries
- The tower of treats is for everyone to share
- Teacups and saucers are delicate
- If you are planning to attend a formal tea, find out the child policy. Some places will charge for the child’s tea service (usually a lower price). At Sanderson, that starts at age 4, so Auden and Tristan were able to share my portion.
- I like to schedule Tea for snack or meal time, so that the kids aren’t too restless or tired to sit through it. Every tea I’ve been to was more than enough food for a meal.
- Check out http://www.afternoontea.co.uk for special offers!
What are your favourite Afternoon Teas in London? I loved Brown’s Hotel and The Sofitel, pictured above. There are so many more I’d love to try, so it’s a good thing I have more visitors lined up!
Photos in this post were taken by me and by Laura Fionda.