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Hotel check: Hyatt Andaz London
BACKGROUND Formerly the Great Eastern Hotel, the Andaz London was the launch pad for Hyatt’s new brand when it opened in November last year. Meaning “personal style” in Urdu, Andaz is described by Hyatt as “five-star, boutique and design-driven”. The Andaz London is currently the only property in the brand’s portfolio, but there are two forthcoming hotels in New York (on Fifth Avenue and Wall Street), as well as one in West Hollywood (due to open in January 2009) and another in Austin, Texas.
WHAT'S IT LIKE? The latest renovation has brought this historic property firmly into the 21st century, while retaining some of its most dramatic features, including the marble staircases and the Masonic Temple (which is available for events). Everywhere you look there are ultra-modern design elements, from the artwork scattered throughout the building to the sleek lobby area, or “Living Room” as Andaz calls it. Here, guests are invited to sit down, have a drink and check in at their leisure with “hosts” wielding wireless PC tablets (you can check in as usual if you prefer). Andaz has also recently launched a free bar area, where guests can try organic wines, grab a coffee, or sample canapés around an impressively chunky wooden table.
WHERE IS IT? Next to Liverpool Street station, in the heart of London’s financial district.
ROOM FEATURES Décor is a smart mixture of whites, blacks and greys, with splashes of red from the chairs and bedspreads. The building dates from 1884, so room sizes, layouts, ceiling heights and views vary considerably, but the minimum size of the Andaz King category is 29 sqm. The room price includes breakfast, wifi and wired internet access, local phone calls, blockbuster films, laundry and pressing (one bag per guest), and a healthy minibar (with water and fruit juices). Other in-room features include flatscreen TVs, iPod docking stations (preloaded iPods can be borrowed from reception), large workstations with a stationery drawer, a yukata robe, and separate bath and shower with Ren toiletries.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS There are seven eating and drinking options, including the fine-dining 1901 Restaurant, due to open in November. It takes its name from the date of the first restaurant in the Grade II Listed dining area (which includes a huge marble bar), and replaces the Aurora. The menu will focus on locally sourced British ingredients, with the option of bar, sampling or à la carte menus. Miyako is a cosy Japanese eatery specialising in sushi, sashimi and tempura, and offering lunch, dinner and take-away bento boxes. Catch is a 70-seat fish restaurant and champagne bar, while Eastway is the hotel’s all-day dining option (where breakfast is served), with choices including risotto, sandwiches and pasta. Finally, the George pub offers “high-quality comfort food” in oak-panelled surroundings.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are 14 meeting and events spaces, the largest being the Gallery area on the first floor, which is flooded with light from a six-storey atrium and has its own bar. Next door is the 283 sqm Great Eastern Room (up to 250 theatre-style). Function rooms are a mix of traditional and contemporary, with the Bishopsgate and Chancery rooms featuring cornicing and chandeliers. All public areas have wifi access.
LEISURE FACILITIES The gym and changing rooms have been upgraded, and there are three treatment rooms offering hot-stone and jet-lag recovery massages, as well as a steam room. Guests can also make use of a personal trainer.
VERDICT A modern revival of an iconic hotel. Rooms are smartly decorated, with good business-travel facilities, and the all-inclusive pricing saves on sorting the bill at check-out, although this is reflected in the rates.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 267 in eight categories, from singles up to the Andaz Open Suite. Just under half (121) are Andaz King rooms.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The in-room “freebies”, particularly the healthy minibar and free wifi. The hotel also serves as a living art gallery – look out for the mysterious backward quotes which can only be read through the mirror opposite, and the “GE” homage to the Great Eastern above the exit.
PRICES Internet rates for a midweek stay in November started from £440 for a Queen room.
CONTACT Andaz London, 40 Liverpool Street, London; tel +44 (0)20 7961 1234; andaz.com.