The Sanderson Hotel is worth visiting for the lobby decor alone. In fact, mark it on your maps, tourists, it’ll make a memorable place to pop in for a toilet break.
The hotel isn’t much to look at from the outside though – pebbledashed angular 70s architecture doesn’t really scream luxury. The setting for the Sanderson’s afternoon tea isn’t the most lush place I’ve been either – it resembles a tropical veranda. The service, however, more than makes up for it, and the waiters pass the first afternoon tea essential: constant drink re-fills throughout the meal.
The tea here is Alice in Wonderland themed, and changes seasonally. Had I paid for mine (this was a birthday treat) I would have certainly thought it to be value for money – for the creativity put into the presentation and concept as much as the quality of the food. One could even trick themself into believing that Heston Blumenthal had created these patisseries – from flavour-changing “poisons” and multicoloured sandwiches to temperature-shifting lollipops, it was certainly a delight for the senses. Alice geeks (like the one I visited the Sanderson with) will revel in the attention to detail that the chef has put into each course.
In-keeping very much with the Alice in Wonderland theme of indulgence, the meal is perhaps too sweet, with four sandwich pieces to seven sweets. It certainly had me downing extra Metformin, but it’s hard to believe that the Mad Hatter would have put sense over style. After the tea, a few minutes flopping about on fur-adorned chaises longues were necessary to recover, followed a couple of hours later by alcoholic drinks and sashimi to balance out the intense sugar rush.
I’d probably do this tea again, if only to see what they come up with for the next season (apparently Christmas’s will include an entire roast in a bottle). Definitely not one for the dieters though; very much a treat.