Positioned right next door to Liverpool Street Station, Andaz Liverpool Street is a hotel brimming with history. Once known as the Great Eastern Hotel, it was built in the 1800's and designed by Charles Barry Jnr, son of the great Charles Barry who designed London's Houses of Parliament.
You might assume the hotel would be stuck in a time warp... but that couldn't be further from the truth. The hotel underwent a massive refurbishment in 2000 and emerged as a sleek n' shiny fusion of modern style and Victorian splendour.
Mara, my host, grabs an iPad and begins the very informal check-in process. "Would you like a drink?", she asks. I think to myself, 'isn't it a bit early in the day for that?' She means water. While I enjoy my drink she confirms my dinner reservation for later tonight. Glancing around the lobby, the atrium at the far end resembles a mini Guggenheim Museum. So far I'm very impressed.
The first thing to catch my eye is the television. Seemingly floating in the back corner, it's playing an overview of the hotel's restaurants and bars. Just to the right of the TV is the sexy queen size bed. Covered by a mass of red and grey cushions, with a grey throw draped over the base, its huge - the kind of bed you could easily lose your partner in during the night.
Directly in front of the bed is the separate study area with a white lounge and desk overlooking the street below. On the wall is an oversized mirror that resembles a set piece from the Chronicles of Narnia. This is also the home of the Nespresso coffee machine. With my early wake up tomorrow that's going to get a serious workout.
Back in the main room (I tend to dart from one side of the room to another when I'm first exploring it) it's the mini bar that's now captured my attention. Free juice, soft drink and snacks! I've never had this at any hotel I've stayed at in Australia. It's a great idea and more hotels should do it.
Now I've checked out my room, it's time to explore the rest of the hotel. There are several fancy restaurants at the Andaz, ranging from Catch (a sustainable seafood restaurant) and Miyako (Japanese) to the very chic 1901 Wine Bar & Restaurant (where I'll be dining tonight). There's also the George Pub, which wouldn't look out of place in a Sherlock Holmes movie.
I've never been good at describing food. Does it taste nice? Yes, it does. That's as detailed as you'd normally get from me. I could never make it as a wine reviewer. At 1901 however, I found myself longing for a thesaurus in order to describe the flavours, textures and aromas in a fashion that befit such a meal. My entrée of duck broth with pistachio dumplings, truffle flavour and celeriac ravioli, with its subtle fragrance and delicate saltiness, had me longing for more... while the beef tenderloin with braised cheeks, pumpkin puree and Jerusalem artichokes, simply put, had me at hello. Just like the lobby, 1901 had a central bar where staff and guest were on one side.
It could be my blonde hair causing trouble again, but I somehow got lost on the way back to my room - the corridors are a bit of a rabbit warren. I took a wrong turn at Catch restaurant and somehow ended up on a different floor than what I expected. I should have taken them up on the explanation of how to actually find my room.
An unexpected discovery during my late night meandering, the hotel has an incredible Masonic temple. The opulent room of marble, gold and mahogany is an historic treasure which remained forgotten and walled off for decades before its rediscovery in the 1990′s. It's now used as an event space, and was even featured as a set for a Florence + the Machine music video.
If You Go
Getting There - British Airways operates daily services from Sydney to London via Singapore. Club World seats are a great option for the long distance, allowing you to get a bit of sleep on the way. If you're the type of person who can't sleep, there's a good selection of movies, TV shows and games to entertain you.More info on Andaz Liverpool Street - http://london.liverpoolstreet.andaz.hyatt.com/
More info on British Airways - http://www.britishairways.com
More info on Britain - http://www.visitbritain.com
-The writer travelled as a guest of Andaz Liverpool Street and British Airways.
About Chris Ashton
The Travel Producer at Yahoo!7, Chris Ashton is always on the lookout for the new, bizarre and unexpected. When he's not exploring ancient ruins in Turkey or getting lost in the streets of Hong Kong, you can find him diving with sharks off the coast of Byron Bay.Twitter: @chrisjashton
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