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The City, Shoreditch and Spitalfields on your doorstep at the Andaz, London Liverpool Street.
Walking into the lobby of the Andaz hotel on a freezing Saturday afternoon, I found the welcome warm and the complimentary Prosecco well chilled. The following 24 hours were spent in the luxurious setting of this 5-star hotel, conveniently located alongside Liverpool Street Station. Being so central, the Andaz is a handy option both for tourists wishing to enjoy the tastes and art of Shoreditch, as well as for business people in town for a meeting in the City. I was there for a weekend staycation and left feeling rested and relaxed.
I especially enjoy a hotel with a rich history and the Andaz has no shortage of that. Although it is now part of Hyatt Hotels and Resorts group, it started life as the Great Eastern Hotel in 1884, a decade after the Great Eastern Railway Company opened Liverpool Street Station. Prior to that, the site housed the first Bethlehem Hospital (1247 – 1676), also known as the Bedlam psychiatric hospital. The hotel was closed in 1996 and restored and reopened in 2000. The restoration is beautifully done with features like a grand marble staircase and other parts of the Victorian building lovingly preserved. At the same time, it is very contemporary and the extension is as architecturally interesting. Peering down the circular space in the atrium put me in mind of the Guggenheim in New York.
A truly spectacular space was discovered during the hotel’s renovation. Hidden behind a false wall, the Masonic Temple was revealed, housed in the hotel’s basement. It was built in 1912 by Charles Barry Junior (his father co-designed the Houses of Parliament). I wondered why this temple was ever built in the hotel and discovered that Freemasons had helped build the hotel and were given a lodge within the building. One enters the temple through a mahogany panelled anteroom and a set of heavy, studded wooden doors. Inside is a Grecian Temple, neoclassical in style, containing the traditional checker-board tiled floor, zodiac ceiling and insignia particular to the masonic lodges. Twelve types of marble, Doric and Ionic columns, heavy, throne-like, mahogany chairs embossed with Masonic symbols, an original organ are just a few of the sights to enjoy in this space. It continues to be in use today as a masonic lodge but is also accessible to the public as it is used as a small cinema and can be hired for weddings or private dinners.
Andaz is a Hindi word meaning personal style. Each Andaz hotel is designed to reflect the culture of the area in which it is located. As Shoreditch is a central part of London’s vibrant art scene, the hotel has impressive art from the huge murals in the lobby (one by East London collective, Le Gun) to quirky photography in the passages and the 267 individually decorated bedrooms.
My bedroom, a King Deluxe was decorated in shades of grey, tan and maroon. A huge bed was super comfortable – I like a firm mattress – and had a lovely oversized tan, leather headboard. A large chaise longue, upholstered in grey tweed, was most inviting, while a sizeable desk makes a good spot for getting on with some work if here on business. A 50-inch flatscreen TV provided entertainment. The lighting was striking – an oversized, searchlight style, floor lamp took pride of place along with a stylish desk lamp and enviable side lamps. A complimentary minibar contained biscuits and crisps as well as bottled waters, juice and soft drinks. A Nespresso machine was provided as well as a kettle with good quality teas. During the afternoon, a small dish of delicious chocolates was delivered and gratefully devoured.
The spacious, monochrome bathroom was stylishly tiled in white with black, cross-handled taps. REN products were fabulously fragrant – neroli and grapefruit flavour. Slippers and gowns waited in the wardrobe.
Staff at the Andaz are very well trained, super friendly and encourage mingling amongst guests at the evening happy hour where complimentary canapes and wine are available to enjoy at the bar in the capacious lobby or to sit and enjoy in the adjoining First Class lounge. In the early mornings, pastries, juice and hot drinks are complimentary in the lobby.
When it is time to eat guest are literally spoilt for choice. Not only is Shoreditch home to some of London’s iconic eateries, but the hotel itself also has five restaurants and four bars. Rakes Bar is a beautifully atmospheric space, located at the foot of the grand marble staircase and retaining stained glass windows and a nostalgic nod to a bygone era mixed with contemporary touches. It was packed on a Saturday afternoon as was the Lady Abercorn bar. As we have previously reviewed Miyako, we opted to have dinner at the Eastway Brasserie which serves healthy options throughout the day.
Eastway Brasserie is a casual dining restaurant where guests, some with young children were enjoying dinner. It sports an open plan kitchen and a long, colourful bar. The menu serves brasserie staples, hearty and wholesome dishes – charcuterie and cheese sharing platters, soup, beetroot salad, chicken salad, two steaks or tuna from the grill, cauliflower steak, wild mushroom risotto, gnocchi, salmon, bass, roast chicken, lamb ragout and braised beef short rib.
To start, we enjoyed an Avocado Garden (the vegan starter) with quinoa, avocado, hummus and pomegranate as well as a gin and tonic salmon – a very pretty dish of cubed salmon, cucumber and avo with snaps of rye crisp and blobs of lemon tonic gel. Both dishes were fresh and healthy.
For mains, we ordered from the grill – a ribeye with red wine jus and sautéed spinach plus a tuna loin with chimichurri sauce and French beans. Both dishes were cooked to order, had good flavour and were sizeable portions.
Eating out healthily can sometimes be a challenge but Eastway Brasserie had plenty on the menu to feel virtuous by the end of the meal. Aside from dessert of course. I kept to fruit with fresh berries and a scoop each of strawberry and passion fruit sorbet. Most refreshing. My partner opted for a deconstructed whole apple caramel tatin which looked gorgeous – a round of Breton sable topped with a caramelised apple and a quenelle of cream with sliver leaf. Strawberries and a brandy snap stood to attention alongside with the caramel sauce spread out on the plate.
Sunday morning was a real treat when we breakfasted in the elegant, Grade ll listed, 1901 room. This is a gorgeous room in a hotel already boasting many beautiful spaces. We sat below a superb, glass dome, the last such remaining ceiling in East London. It survived the Blitz as it was protected on the outside by hotel mattresses. It is the sort of dome one finds in Parisian department stores and traditional brasseries like Bofinger. The large room is well conserved – only the cutting edge chandeliers are contemporary and blend in very well.
A long, double-sided buffet provides enough choice to please the even the pickiest eater. In addition, a menu with egg dishes every which way is available too. 80 % of the dishes are vegetarian. As an unlimited menu for £28, this is very good value indeed.
We began with freshly pressed apple juice while elegant silver tea and coffee pots arrived tableside. There were further drinks choices of juice, and a tub filled with glass bottles containing coconut banana or blueberry smoothie plus plant-based milks. The buffet contained a selection of cereals and granola with bowls of nuts and dried fruits. There was an impressive antipasti selection with charcuterie, cheese, olives and pickles. I tried some smoked salmon and a baba ganoush. Other fish included roll mops and peppered mackerel.
A row of brightly coloured cast-iron dishes contained scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, smoky baked beans and even Chinese noodles. One could either compose one’s own breakfast or, as my partner did, order a Full English Breakfast which arrived with fried eggs. I very rarely eat red meat but was sorely tempted by the look of the plump pork sausages which I was told were really very good indeed. I was happy with my menu order of poached egg on avo toast. I added a couple of mushrooms from the hot selection, large portobello mushrooms with a herby flavour. I also tried a great vegan option – smoky mixed beans. The coffee was very good quality too. I reminded myself to eat more chia seeds after tasting a tiny glass jar filled with chia yoghurt topped with mango cream. The homemade peanut butter spread onto a home-baked cheese straw was fabulous. No, that’s not the way it’s served, but I couldn’t resist the combination.
Not only is 1901 serving a great breakfast, but it is also very concerned with reducing its environmental impact, reducing food waste, air miles and plastic. So one can enjoy the food with a good conscience too.
With all this good food it is just as well that there is so much to explore in the area. Shoreditch is a simply marvellous part of London where hipsters, artists and tourists hang out in trendy restaurants, bars and coffee shops, boutiques and galleries, or trawl through vintage shops and street markets. Even though I know the area reasonably well, it was fun to while away several hours on Saturday afternoon, dipping into local eateries, visiting the Whitechapel Art Gallery and ending up on a self-guided tour of the architectural glass towers of the City of London.
On Sunday morning we meandered up Brick Lane filled with street art, food stalls and bric-a-brac, clothing and music shops, all jam-packed with visitors. From there it was a short walk to the Columbia Flower Market – one of the most atmospheric places to be in London on a Sunday morning. I nearly bought a lemon tree but made do with a huge bunch of tulips.
Whether you are in town for a holiday, a weekend break or a meeting, the Andaz is conveniently located to make the most of what London has to offer. It is stylish, comfortable, and the staff are really excellent. I was there for a mere 24 hours but it was an invigorating, relaxing and delicious mini-break.
40 Liverpool Street
tel:+44 207 961 1234
Disclosure: We were guests of the Andaz hotel. All content is my own view and is editorially given.
Don’t want to stay in the centre of town? We also recommend Great Fosters near Windsor, where you can rub shoulders with the Royals and stay in Anne Boleyn’s sitting room!