You may have noticed that ‘adventures of the Alice in Wonderland kind’ have become much more prominent across the country, this year. Curiouser, and curiouser, perhaps… But, lo, there is a perfectly good reason you have been seeing more white rabbits with pockets watches than usual, since the literary classic penned by Lewis Carroll is celebrating its 150th birthday. And London, in particular, is celebrating louder than most, with a whole host of themed activities and events going on.
So, the story goes that in July, 1862, Charles Dodgson - a maths lecturer at Christ Church - made up a story to entertain the three young daughters of his friend Henry Liddell. He used the name of 10-year-old Alice. Then, three years later, the story was published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland under Dodgson's alias Lewis Carroll.
Since we are big Wonderland fans already, (and, who isn’t?) we took a trip down the proverbial rabbit hole, to St James’ Court, a Taj Hotel, to indulge in the Alice in Wonderland afternoon tea: the latest tasty addition to the hotel’s decadent menu of afternoon teas.
The hotel is a peaceful haven within the busy central neighbourhood - Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey are within walking distance. The tropical courtyard gardens are worth a stop off post-tea, for sure. The tea is hosted on the ground floor of the building, which houses the apartment suites – a great place for families to stay while visiting the capital city.
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The whimsical tea table is adorned with Alice-type-treasures, miniature pocket watches, playing cards, dainty teacups and the like. Any 'Wonderland' fan, whatever their age, couldn’t fail to be delighted by discovering the delightful scene. The attentive and polite staff explained the special menu to us, and we were given mini ‘drink me’ fruit juice bottles while we waited for our sweet treats to arrive – which certainly started to fire the imagination.
You are served up a selection of finger sandwiches, decadent pastries and unique delicacies such as 'pocket watch' macarons, jelly filled chocolate cups and individual sponge iced cakes. This is definitely a tea for those with a sweet tooth. However, you can ask for as many more sandwiches as you like, for balance. You can also select some cakes from the side table to take away with you, which we couldn’t eat any more of at the time, but were very grateful to have taken a stash come tea time…
In addition to the food, the tea menu is, of course, extensive, from Gunpowder to Lapsang Souchong and classic Earl Grey.
Top treat: Every tea attendee can take away their own limited edition copy of the Lewis Carroll classic, the first bespoke edition in the 'English Classics, Reinvented' series. The hardback has been designed exclusively by East London artist, Ethan McClean and costs, £12.
Scone rating: Although we weren’t served scones with the tea, it was no trouble to ask for them to be added on. And they were definitely worth the wait – these Queen’s recipe drop scones have a glowing reputation for good reason. They were still warm when we bit into the golden syrup flavoured delights, with a dollop of melting cream on top for good measure.
Perfect for: Intrepid Alice in Wonderland adventurers, and those with a sweet tooth.
Cost: £30 per person
Location:St James’ Court, a Taj Hotel
Days and times: Available now. Afternoon tea is served every day at the hotel's Kona restaurant and St. James' Courtyard from 12:00 – 17:30
Check availability: For reservations and other enquiries, visit stjamescourthotel.co.uk, call +44 20 7963 8391 or mail firstname.lastname@example.org
What else is in the area? Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Tate Britain… you name it, it’s all nearby.
The Afternoon Tea comes as the latest initiative from the 'Kids @ Taj' programme, enabling young travellers to make the most of their time in the capital, with custom-made activities and amenities. Upon arrival, tiny tourists receive a special amenity bag, including 'Taj passport', their own card and key holder, sketchbook and journal.