Gluten Free Afternoon Tea, London: Mad Hatter’s at The Sanderson

Going for gluten free afternoon tea when you’re supposed to be on a sugar free, mostly carb free diet is not exactly ideal timing. However, there was no way I was going to miss out on the chance to see Kelly and Miriam (was really sorry not to see Carly on the day too). The venue was the hip Sanderson Hotel tucked behind Goodge Street/Oxford Street for their very fun Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea.

In advance of the afternoon tea at The Sanderson Hotel, London I’d contacted the hotel to check it would also be nut free. Unfortunately I had to exchange a number of emails with them before I received a reply which reassured me that I would be catered for safely. In fact nuts are not used in any of their afternoon tea dishes (gluten free or not) but it took a number of emails to establish this as I kept receiving stock response emails without actually answering my questions.

somewhere over the rainbow

Our table was sat out in the light and airy courtyard garden. We checked again with the waitress that we would be served gluten free afternoon tea but were slightly alarmed when the waitress questioned if we could eat fish or ham in response to our questions on being served gluten free options. Not comforted we would be safely eating there, we asked to speak to the manager who did firmly reassure us that everything served to us would be both gluten and nut free.

The major attraction of this gluten free afternoon tea was the styling on the Mad Hatter’s theme. It was just so special. Delicately beautiful cakes. The tiny carrots poking out of green shoots, the little pink mushrooms. The clock faces on the cakes. I loved how the sugar cubes were served from a wind up musical box which played “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. I also particularly enjoyed the sandwiches and the bread was soft and the fillings flavoursome.

The only downside for me was the scones. We were chatting too much for me to realise I’d mistakenly put clotted cream on the savoury scones. It was only a slightly strange after taste that made me question what I was eating. Despite my fundamental error I didn’t enjoy them. They crumbled like I have never seen a gluten free scone crumble before. The sweet scones were the same on the crumble front. Definitely could do better.

crumbly scones

Gluten free afternoon tea is expensive. It’s also a slightly superfluous meal. You can’t really eat beforehand because you need to save your appetite and you’re inevitably too stuffed / overloaded in sugar to eat afterwards. So it needs to be good. The Sanderson’s gluten free afternoon tea certainly delivered (except for the scones).

While the end result was good, I do think the Sanderson hotel needs to invest some time in training their teams (both waitresses and those responding to phone/email queries) on food intolerances and allergies. Our booking contained information on the need to serve us gluten and nut free food. I would expect the wait staff to have been fully briefed in advance of our visit so they knew our dietary requirements without us needing to double check but this was not the case.

Cost: From £38 excluding service (automatically added)
Would I return?: Definitely. This was a really fun treat with good quality cakes and delicious sandwiches
Location: The Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG


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  1. Miriam
    January 21, 2015 / 10:27 am

    It was just lovely to catch up with you both, sorry i had to rush off, where next? I can fill you in on all my news! x

    • January 21, 2015 / 10:50 am

      Very much looking forward to meeting up again soon, I will investigate options! x

  2. February 1, 2015 / 9:19 pm

    We went to The Sanderson years ago (before they revamped this afternoon tea and I was eating gluten) and were in and out within 35 mins, says something about our experience. I’ve heard good things about the gluten free afternoon tea now however haven’t really had the urge to head back as once burnt….

    I’ve seen worst scones than that unfortunately; I do giggle (its the only thing you can do) when you pop your knife into the scone and it just explodes like that! You can’t beat an overcooked gluten free scones that explodes 😉 x

  3. Natasha
    February 19, 2015 / 5:38 am

    Thank you for this post. I just found out on Monday I have gluten allergies after having a reaction. I am traveling to Europe for a months long vacation and in London I was looking forward to the “Mad Hatter’s Tea” and learned there were gluten free options. I was still skeptical as far as the taste would go, but it sounds like your experience was quite pleasant. I will definitely not change my plans thank you!