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Upon entry, the guest is promised a hotel full of hidden gems, and it certainly doesn’t disappoint. After all, this is the building which formerly hosted the Great Eastern Hotel, where fictional Van Helsing puts his feet up in his first visit to London in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. If one thing’s for certain, there are definitely more stories to be found.
In this sense, Andaz – part of the Hyatt group – embraces the old, traditional elements of the Grade II listed building, while dragging it into the present with contemporary art, bright colours and vivid furniture and lighting.
And there’s a five-star arrival to boot when stepping through the impressive revolving door of the hotel. It’s service with a smile from the helpful staff, and a glass of Prosecco, which is certainly a treat, especially if you’ve been travelling for hours to arrive.
Then, you can expect to be swiftly whisked away in a lift and down the extensive winding corridors of the Andaz to yet another hideaway – this time, a room where you can take the weight off your feet.
Being situated in the centre of the City means the hotel boasts views of Liverpool Street and beyond, but unlike the rest of the hotel, the room does not feel grand or bold, instead offering a more minimalist, clean approach to decor.
The room is generous in size with high ceilings, long curtains and a sprawling king-sized bed, complemented by a good-sized bathroom with both a bath and separate, enclosed shower.
If you enjoy the subtle touches, then you’ll certainly like the quirky features of artist Sophie Mo. Blooming flowers, butterflies, cottages and leaves all pay tribute to the history of East London, which was once home to a flourishing textile industry.
The room offers the perfect base for exploring – and there’s plenty of it. Andaz is well situated for those who are looking to truly experience as much of London as possible. With Liverpool Street station right next door, it provides a gateway to getting around the capital easily by train or tube. But for those who want to stay closer to home, there are plenty of choices.
Fancy sky high City views? Try 110 Bishopsgate or The Garden at 120. Looking for a place to grab a drink? How about Rake’s, The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town or Dirty Martini?
We couldn’t leave without a visit to Petticoat Lane Market, which is only a stone’s throw away and full of bustling crowds and a variety of stalls. But there’s also Old Spitalfield Market nearby, with fashion choices, Brick Lane for the foodie, as well as Columbia Road Flower Market for early risers.
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But what is a hotel stay without a good bite to eat? We were keen to sample at least one of the hotel’s five restaurants. Lady Abercorn’s offers high-end pub grub, Rake’s is a cafe by day and bar by night, Miyako offers traditional Japanese cuisine, while 1901 offers an ideal opportunity for the budding sommelier. However, we opted for Eastway Brasserie – easily accessible through the hotel.
Eastway appears to be an unassuming restaurant, and the muted decor and lighting appear to support this notion. Some may suggest it could benefit from a more vibrant interior, but it is well placed and perfect for a meet up with colleagues or friends.
While service was arguably slower, the waiting staff were attentive and ready to respond to questions. It is well-worth mentioning Ben, at front of house, who went out of his way to make us feel welcome and looked after.
The cocktails were plentiful with a wide range of choice, including some of the familiar favourites. These weren’t watered down or lacking in flavour, and provided a positive start to the evening.
For the starter, we opted for the tomato soup (£12.50), selected as the soup of the day. But this was no bog-standard tinned offering. Instead, we were treated to a hearty, substantial portion with freshly sliced baguette, perfect for the colder autumn weather. The dish could easily stand alone as a main course, but soon enough the main courses were on their way.
For mains, the sirloin steak (£28.50) did leave something to be desired but was a safe choice and well cooked alongside a substantial portion of crispy herb fries (£5) and a grilled mushroom. The salmon fillet (£18.50), however, was far more convincing, and served alongside a helping of sauteed vegetables (£5), it was a good way to end the meal.
If it’s comfort food and traditional home favourites you’re looking for, then Eastway provides the perfect opportunity to indulge.
However, the restaurant does not only offer dinner, and we were soon back as part of the hotel’s breakfast offering, which provides something for everyone’s tastes.
From freshly baked pastries, to a cornucopia of fruit, to a myriad of cheeses and ham, and finally a sumptuous full English – the diner is well and truly spoiled for choice.
The highlights of the breakfast were the pancakes, bacon and maple syrup – a more than sizable portion of which every mouthful was fluffy and delicious. A close contender was the smoked salmon, poached egg and avocado on toast, which was heartily recommended by our server for the morning, and did not disappoint.
Back in the hotel, more of the hidden gems begin to come to the fore. There’s a gym for the fitness fanatics, a spa for those looking to wind down after a day of pounding the pavements, and what is perhaps the most hidden is a grand ballroom perfect for functions.
All in all the hotel can serve as a mini adventure, a place to find relaxation, or a chance to embrace one’s inner gastronome. It can be whatever you want it to be, which is perhaps what makes so many guests return.
And the best thing is, there are Andaz hotels all over the world. So wherever you go, there’s always a slice of calm to be found amid the chaos.
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