“You’re welcome to join us in the Lounge 6-7pm for a complimentary drink,” smiles the receptionist at the Andaz London Liverpool Street, handing us our keycards. Having just finished a busy work week and negotiated our way through throngs of commuters and excitable tourists to find ourselves in this calm, cool hotel lobby, those drinks, in one hour’s time, are welcome indeed.
Even at a glance, it’s easy to see that the lounge area has great post-work drink vibes, with its double-height ceilings, plush sink-into-me seating and huge graffiti-style artworks on the walls. However, we’re already committed to a Dance Cardio class at Frame Shoreditch, so we power-walk ten minutes down the road to be put through our paces by the very enthusiastic Pablo before returning to make the most of Andaz London.
Now, even if you’re a Londoner or at least familiar with the area around the very busy and well-connected Liverpool Street station, you might not necessarily have looked up while passing. If you did, you’d quickly realise that this outpost of the Andaz hotel group does, in fact, take up a huge amount of building space – hiding in plain sight, as it were.
The grand Victorian building dates back to 1884 and is home not only to 267 rooms and suites, but also five separate places for drinking and dining to your heart’s content. There’s the 1901 Wine Lounge (also serving afternoon tea), Miyako for Japanese cuisine, Eastway Brasserie, Lady Abercorn’s Pub & Kitchen and Rake’s, a café by day and bar by night. Oh, and that’s not to mention the hotel’s Grade-II* listed ballroom and intriguing 110-year-old marble-clad Masonic Temple. The latter will be available for hire once renovations are complete – a feature we doubt many other London hotels can offer.
However, I’m here as a guest, not a party planner, sharing the experience with one of my oldest and dearest friends. We head up in the lift, pausing at the top to peer down into two vertigo-inducing cavities: the dizzying spiral staircase that descends into the Lounge, and a lofty six-storey glass atrium event space inspired by New York’s Guggenheim Gallery.
Our King Bed Deluxe room is spacious, sophisticated, and perfectly calibrated for an overnight stay in the heart of London. There’s smart black wood panelling, what seem like triple-glazed windows (I can’t hear any evidence of the busy roads below) and an enormous bed that is, pleasingly, not too soft. I must confess that the Peloton bike, visible from said bed and a nice touch for business travellers keen not to miss their favourite class, is not used during my visit – after Dance Cardio, it was time for that long-awaited drink.
And so to Rake’s, to settle in its street-side Front Room for cocktails, supper and – let’s be honest – another cocktail. Staff are young and friendly, and there’s a mix of hotel guests and local workers who have come in to unwind after work, punctuating their chat with small plates and plenty of drinks.
We’re seated in what feels like a pergola crossed with a greenhouse, surrounded by verdant greenery which definitely brightens up an otherwise bitterly cold evening, when spring still feels an eternity away.
The house cocktails are inspired by the journey of Tom Rakewell, ‘the original rake’ and subject of a famous series of paintings by William Hogarth that depict his ruin at the hands of a lavish life of luxury, gambling and decadence – which should give you some idea of the revelry that goes on here.
The Heir packs a pleasing punch and is ideal for those who hate overly sweet concoctions, blending mezcal and cachaça with lemon, grapefruit, agave and chilli. When it comes to the smaller plates, although salmon, shrimp and ham croquettes feature, vegetarians – and meat-eating veg enthusiasts like me – are well served by sesame cauliflower wings with cashew ranch dip and burrata pugliese.
Larger plates range from hearty winter options, like tagliatelle or beef short rib and mash, to lighter salads, pan-seared salmon and two vegan dishes. Somewhere in the middle is my slow braised lamb leg souvlaki wrap with fries: the ideal dish, it turns out, to be eaten with good wine and in good company, when neither party pauses for breath.
Fan of a midnight snack? You’ll find the mini bar in your room stocked with a few complimentary snacks – not often the case at luxury hotels, and appreciated in peckish moments.
Don’t rush to get up either – breakfast is served until 10.30am on weekdays and 11am at weekends, with a generous check-out time of midday (and, while we’re on the subject, an equally good check-in time of 2pm). You could, of course, fit in a morning Peloton class… or maybe you’d prefer to languish in the capacious bath and before lingering over coffee and the papers?
I will freely admit to following this arduous start to my day with a double breakfast, tempted by both the cooked buffet spread and the freshly cooked pancakes, which arrived just as the waiter was clearing our first breakfast course. I feel rather cosseted by this spacious, secret haven, and reluctant to leave; Andaz Liverpool Street, I’ll see you in July for my Masonic birthday celebration…
Rooms at Andaz London Liverpool Street start from £334 per night, visit hyatt.com.
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