My entrance may not have been grand, as I darted inside from the rainy streets of east London, but the entrance is grand.
Chic, modern furniture dots the cavernous reception of Andaz London Liverpool Street Hotel where I would be spending the night.
The high ceilings and fresh feel of the space jars contrast with the stripped back, industrial looking lifts you take to the rooms. The contrasting feel of design is spread throughout the hotel.
Opened as the Great Eastern Hotel in 1884 and one of London’s original railway hotels, the Andaz is housed in a beautiful redbrick Victorian building designed by the architects of London’s famed Houses of Parliament.
The 267 boutique rooms and suites are modern in design, as you would expect from a luxury five star hotel, but four have walls featuring exclusive work by local street artists.
There is The Pearly Room by Chris Price, celebrating the Pearly Kings and Queens of East London; One Day Walk by Patrick Vale and Paul Davis; East My Dust by ILoveDust; and, The Day The Flower Rose by Patrick Morgan, featuring Whitechapel public library.
I stood in front of The Day The Flower Rose in my room for a good while on arrival, examining its intricacies and symbols. It caught my eye time after time throughout my stay, warming the room a surprising amount.
I was there for one night only, with the choice of visiting the Japanese restaurant Miyako, the 1901 wine lounge where you can also have afternoon tea during the day, Catch Bar and Lounge, and the George Pub which has a crackling and craft beer menu I definitely would have jumped at on a Sunday afternoon.
However it was a Friday night, so I made my way to the East End Brasserie where a more laid back dining experience was promised.
To start I had the quinoa salad (£9), with lemon quinoa, pickled fennel, shaved garden vegetables and mustard dressing. It was simple, yet freshly flavoured and prepped me for the two courses ahead.
My partner went rogue having spotted his favourite on the bar menu and chose the garlic and chilli prawns (£7). These came in a hot pan with toasted bread, perfectly presented and wondrously cooked.
For the main he stuck with seafood and went for roasted black bream (£22), with confit grilled fennel, lemon fennel puree and sauce vierge. The flavours were light but hugely complimentary, creating a perfect and interesting dish.
I went for the roast lamb rump (£24) with spring peas, asparagus, potato, radish and min dressing.
The meat was impeccable and the potatoes were an unusual concoction of a layered pile that is perfectly neat, but flakes apart.
The portion sizes are reasonable, not too generous, and so we had enough room to share a desert – the chocolate brownie (£6), with caramel popcorn, toasted marshmallows, chocolate sauce and salted caramel ice cream. It was thick and delectably rich.
The following morning we had breakfast in the astoundingly decadent 1901 restaurant. It is stunning Grade II listed room; once a ballroom it has now been restored for breakfast and private events. As well as a continental buffet they offer a full English breakfast buffet, complete with fresh juices and shakes and pancakes and waffles, or your choice of eggs freshly cooked to order.
My stay was unquestionably decadent, but the hotel and staff had the warmth and welcome of a much smaller boutique accommodation. I was very sorry not be have been staying longer and have the chance to use the health club with spa facilities.
Head to watfordobserver.co.uk/travel to discover what to do in the surrounding areas of east London while staying at the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel.
Andaz London Liverpool Street Hotel, 40 Liverpool Street, London, EC2M 7QN. Room rates start from £169. Details: 0207 961 1234, londonliverpoolstreet.andaz.hyatt.com
Things to do:
1. Visit Spitalfields market – once a Sunday-only mainstay, are open every day. Spitalfields Markets offer cutting edge fashion and interiors and original artworks as well as food.
2. Walk down Brick Lane and see what takes your fancy, The Old Truman Brewery at 91 Brick Lane houses a vibrant market where up-and-coming designers set up shop every Sunday selling a unique variety of clothes, handbags and jewellery. There are also vintage clothing stores and chic boutiques dotted around the area. As a hub of London’s Bangladeshi community, Brick Lane has always been famed for its many authentic curry restaurants and, more recently, its two rival bagel shops. It now also has a reputation for its warehouse art exhibitions and trendy clubs and bars.
3. Step back in time by entering Dennis Severs’ house. It is both a breathtaking and an intimate portrait of the lives of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 to the dawn of the 20th Century. As you follow their fortunes through the generations, the sights, smells and sounds of the house take you into their lives.
4. Play a game of ping pong at Bounce. It has 17 tables and a private room, giving way to some serious competition as well as plenty of first timers.
5. Pop into the Heron Tower for a cocktail in Drift Bar, or even a late night dinner at the 24 hour restaurant, Duck and Waffle.