Review: Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at The Grand Hotel & Spa York

Last weekend we went down the rabbit hole to try out the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at The Grand Hotel & Spa, Yorkshire’s only five-star hotel. Taking three lively children to a smart hotel might seem risky, but we’ve visited enough times to know that The Grand is firmly family-friendly (you can read about our overnight stay here).

The Mad Hatter welcomes everyone to his tea party –  when we visited, there were groups of friends celebrating big birthdays, couples treating themselves and families with teenagers – but there’s a lot to appeal to younger children too. Just as Alice couldn’t believe her eyes when she entered a magical new world, our children (8, 5 and 3) couldn’t believe their luck when we stepped into the colourful, musical Wonderland created by the imaginative team at The Grand. We were seated at the Caterpillar table – each table is named after a character from the book – but we didn’t sit for long. While drinks are brought to the table – along with any special sandwiches for children or those with dietary requirements – the delicious cakes, chocolate lollies and other edible treats are all beautifully presented on a central table groaning with goodies from which you can help yourself.

From the cupcakes to the chocolate torte and meringue mushrooms, everything we ate looked stunning and tasted even better. While the sandwiches and savoury scones might not look as exciting as their sweet counterparts – a slice of sausage roll just can’t compete with a little jar of strawberry heart jelly on the attractiveness front – they tasted just as good. The freshly baked scones were shunned by the children – probably because they weren’t covered in icing – which left more for us adults (hoorah). Having fairly conservative tastes, our kids were very grateful at the arrival of their plain jam, cheese and ham sandwiches – a nice touch that meant we avoided a standoff over asking them to try something more adventurous.

Another nice touch was the selection of games just outside the boardroom: from Jenga and snakes & ladders to hopscotch and a version of Twister, it meant that the kids could entertain themselves when they became fidgety, leaving us to drink our tea in peace for two minutes. Speaking of tea, you can choose whichever tea, coffee or other hot drink you would like to accompany your food. Purists might miss the lack of individual teapots for the standard tea –  instead, waiting staff offered refills of English breakfast tea throughout the afternoon – but there is a certain charm in being served your tea by someone dressed as the Mad Hatter.

Indeed, the Mad Hatter’s involvement is low-key: this is not a theatrical experience, but one where the incredible cakes and sweet creations are the stars of the show. As we prepared to return to the real world, each of the children was delighted to receive a balloon, weighed down with shortbread (as if they needed any more sugar!), to take home as a reminder of a lovely afternoon in Wonderland.

The Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea runs at The Grand Hotel on Sunday 11th March 2018 (Mother’s Day), Sunday 1st April 2018  (Easter Sunday), Sunday 13th May 2018, Sunday 17th June 2018 and Sunday 15th July 2018 at 3pm. Adults £39, under 12s £21, under 5s £11. Visit thegrandyork.co.uk or call 01904 380038.

Many thanks to The Grand for inviting us along. As always, our review is entirely independent and we will only recommend things we have enjoyed.

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