Hotels near airports or train stations can conjure up images of pokey rooms with a sad looking ironing board in the corner. As a 267-room, five-star hotel, I wasn’t expecting quite the same from Andaz London but to say it exceeded my expectations would be an understatement.
Nestled a few steps from Liverpool Street Station, the entrance is grand but unassuming. Originally built as the Great Eastern Hotel in 1884, perhaps it’s just a building that has grown to feel at home?
Step through the revolving doors and you enter a serenity that is the Andaz Lounge. Recently renovated, it takes you back to a Victorian train carriage – heavy curtains, low lighting and vintage trunks which turn into a DJ booth after dark. Despite the heavy detailing, there are plenty of nods to the East End’s creative streak with avant-garde prints dotted around.
The welcome on the front desk was a little monosyllabic, but that must have been a blip in what was otherwise a faultless customer experience with all of the staff going out of their way to deliver the types of thoughtful touches that make you murmur “ooh, that’s nice”.
Head upstairs and the rooms are palatial (I could have slept on the bed horizontally) with a complimentary mini bar and oversized chairs for lounging. One of my favourite touches was the library of books which all had a connection to the surrounding area (I can highly recommend I’ve Lived in East London for 86 ½ years).
Andaz is one of those hotels you could become anonymous in simply because it’s so large, yet you still feel at home. The building boasts five restaurants and bars including ‘proper boozer’ Lady Abercorn’s Pub & Kitchen, Eastway Brasserie (think East End brunch vibes) and Japanese restaurant Miyako.
Andaz is in a prime location and there’s plenty to do beyond the hotel doors. Spitalfields on a Sunday may be a tourist favourite, but it really is hard to beat. If you want to play local, head away from the official market down to Petticoat Lane and, further on, you’ll stumble across some of traditional Indian sweet shops in Aldgate and Whitechapel (stop off at Culpepper’s roof terrace on the way for a glass of something cold). Head in the opposite direction and you’ll soon hit Columbia Road Flower Market where, post 4pm, there are some bargains to be had.
If you’re looking for something that avoids the market throngs, try a walking tour with Shoreditch Street Art Tours. We were treated to the history behind some of the East End’s current wall decorations by Maria Domenica Arcuri who took us through pieces by Banksy as well as lesser known artists. Finish off at the infamous Beigel Bake bagel shop (get the salt beef).
On the topic of food, Spitalfields and its surrounding streets are packed with options. From paella to poutine, boa buns to burgers, nearly every type of cuisine is available. If street food isn’t your thing, try Pizza Union, thin crispy pizzas at £4-6 a pop and rough bottles of red. And of course, there’s always Brick Lane’s curry houses to tempt you (City Spice is my favourite).
If opulent furnishings, big beds and dark corners for sipping martinis are your thing, then Andaz might just be the place for you.
By Lizzie Wood, Travel Editor
Prices at Andaz London Liverpool Street start at £169 for one night in a Queen Room.