Friday 14 November 2014

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at the Cedar Court Grand, York

If there's one thing I love even more than afternoon tea, it's afternoon tea with a theme! So when I heard that my friend Kel (who incidentally loves cake as much as me) was organising a trip to the Cedar Court Grand in York for their Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea I immediately invited myself along.

Being served in the only 5 star hotel in York, the Mad Hatter's Tea is booked up months in advance and is a hefty £33 per person which is pretty much unheard of outside of London so I had high expectations. 

The hotel was gorgeous, and as we made our way upstairs to afternoon tea I enjoyed taking in all of the surroundings. I'd definitely like to stay at the Cedar Court for a special occasion one day. It was the fanciest hotel I've ever been to outside of the capital. 

The Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea takes place in a room adorned with chandeliers and filled with white linen covered tables. I barely had time to appreciate any of it though as my eyes were immediately drawn to the centre piece - a large table full of colourful treats.

We were shown to our table and our hot drink order was quickly taken as we enjoyed our "Drink Me" shots of pineapple which were tasty and a fun way to introduce the theme of the afternoon. 
These were shortly followed by a plate of scones. I loved that they were served in the traditional way, wrapped in a linen cloth and hot from the oven.  They came with a selection of jams which seemed pointless to me because everyone was sharing the two small pots of strawberry jam. I was also slightly baffled by the tiny amount of cream we were given to share between 9 of us!

Then began the chaos!  The Mad Hatter's Tea is unconventional in that everyone takes their tea at the same time and rather than being served with a cake stand you help yourself in a buffet style

I could appreciate the idea behind it and the long table certainly had the wow factor. Decorated with huge sunflowers, a giant pyramid of cards, smoking tea pots and colourful cakes in all sorts of fun shapes.  It certainly looked like the Mad Hatter would very much be at home.

Unfortunately for the Mad Hatter's guests it wasn't quite as fun. The table became a bit of a free for all as everyone started helping themselves to food and I felt a bit like I was at a children's party frantically trying to beat other people's sticky fingers to the best of the food. 

We also had a bit of a mission working out what was food and what was decoration and as fun as the idea was, I think it would have been far better for each table to have it's own smaller centre piece and then to be served tea in the more traditional way.

A good 10 minutes after getting our food a lady appeared to talk to me about my nut allergy that we'd mention at the time of booking. Better late than never but it was a bit disappointing suddenly being told out of the blue that I couldn't eat some of the cakes on my plate.  When I asked her exactly what nuts were in the cakes she shrugged, said she was just passing on a message from the chef and then walked off. 

I was offered no alternatives to the food I couldn't eat which was very unusual but luckily there was still plenty I could munch.

The savoury section of the afternoon was a bit minimal. There was a small selection of sandwiches but they were tiny and rolled up which made them rather soggy. 

After that the sugar just kept on coming with a white chocolate and vanilla lollipop, a cup of green strawberry mouse, raspberry jelly, a cupcake and a white chocolate candle. 

I loved the variety and the amount of colours but after a while everything did become a little too sweet, even for a professional like me!

On the whole, once my initial excitement had worn off I was disappointed by the tea. I was expecting perfection and it felt a little like the presentation of the food had made the quality and service take a bit of a backseat.  

If you want to try out the tea for yourself the hotel are taking bookings in to next year here.

Note: since writing this review we have told the Hotel about our problems with the afternoon tea and they sent us a lovely apologetic e-mail and are offering us a complimentary afternoon tea for all 9 of us!  Amazing customer service!


  1. Well, it certainly looks good even if the service wasn't at the time! Have you tried the Mad Hatter's Tea at the Sanderson, I've not tried it yet but it's supposed to be wonderful!
    Lots of love,
    SilverSpoon London

  2. Aww I forget how pretty everything looked! Hopefully we'll have better luck next time!

  3. My friend stayed at this hotel and has recommended it to us as said it is AMAZING! The afternoon tea does look delicious and I am so pleased to hear that the hotel are trying to put right the problems you encountered - speaks volumes about them and I'm sure next time will be a far more enjoyable experience x

  4. My bridesmaids booked afternoon tea at the Cedar Court for my hen party, it was served in a more traditional way and was sooo good! There were more savoury options, lots of cream for the scones and super delicious cakes and my vegetarian friend was well looked after, so hopefully when you go back it will be much more magical! x

  5. This looks like great fun I love themes afternoon teas. The one at the sanderson is amazing they captured it brilliantly. All the little treats here look lovely and well thought out Lucy x

  6. Wow - the food looks amazing. I love the themes. I'd love to go there and I might persuade the boyfriend to take me before Christmas.

    Lizzie's Daily Blog

  7. Such a shame, I read Danni's similar review, especially for the amount you pay! As you say, it's a good idea, however, in some areas, it possibly doesn't work.
    And how very rude about the lady and not knowing or finding out what nuts etc..
    Glad you got some kind of compensation. :)
    It does look lovey, but i think even my sweet tooth wouldn't of been able to handle it!


  8. Glad you got some compensation, it's such a shame that it was disappointing especially when it is so expensive, thanks for the honest review though x

  9. It certainly looks impressive and it's a shame it didn't live up to expectations. I think you're right about the buffet style, I would much prefer having the food brought to my table as I don't like to be rushed.. especially during afternoon tea which is supposed to be indulgent and relaxing. I hope your next visit is wonderful and they have taken their customers comments into account.

  10. Last time I was in York I saw this being advertised and I really fancied trying it but I really don't like the idea of helping yourself! I'd feel like I was missing out on something and being pescatarian I would hate not knowing what everything was. I've been neglecting reading blogs lately andf I've missed your little space of the Internet. X

  11. It's a shame about the service considering how good it all looked. The buffet style does seem rather odd for an afternoon tea, I'd just imagine people piling their plates and leaving none for others.


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