Monday, June 20, 2011

Andaz in London with Savoir Faire

Well as the days are flying past and we will be off to Europe, our first few days of vacation will be spent in London at the Andaz Hotel in London. Andaz is Hyatt’s new brand which means in Hindi “personal style”. What better place for Savoir Faire to spend the first few days of our little sojourn.

Now of course we know that Savoir Faire does shun corporate branded hotels that tend to be cookie cutter representations of each other. One likes a bit of history and character with at least hot water running somewhere in the building (which does pose some problems sometimes).

On the edge of East London next to Liverpool Street station, the Andaz was the former Great Eastern Hotel, one of the original London railway hotels, built by the London and North Eastern railway in 1884-87. (So we have the history right). Designed by Charles Barry the grandson of the other Charles Barry who designed the Houses of Parliament, it is a wonderfully beautiful gothic revivalist red brick Victorian building, which has been beautifully renovated to take one into the future of the 21st century.

Having seen better days before being taken over by Hyatt with rooms rented by the hour, it was a perfect candidate for renovation. Now a listed building the integrity of the building has been respected after refurbishment by Conran & Partners.

The result is a wonderfully modern interior with sleek cool furniture, modern architectural details blending with the old and some hidden gems that came to light during the renovation that had been forgotten for years.

Somehow the lobby does not look like a lobby and I believe that Hyatt have dispensed with the traditional front desk in favour of lounges etc. where guests are seated and served drinks while checking in.

The Great Eastern Hotel originally had 160 bedrooms but only 12 had bathrooms and trains brought salt water from Harwich on the Essex coast for the hotel baths. By 2006, the hotel had 267 bedrooms and obviously all are en suite. To solve the problem of antiquated plumbing and replacing sewage drains for the toilets they use vacuum drainage. When you flush the toilet in the Great Eastern Hotel the waste is sucked upwards, not down, and goes through the roof to leave the building! (God forbid should there be a problem). I like the fact that the bathrooms retain an old world luxurious feeling with these modern updates.

The Aurora was originally the hotel's ballroom and opened in 1895. The architects took color samples of the paintwork and matched it when redecorating. It certainly does look the place to be back in the days gone by!

There is an amazing glass domed ceiling which was protected during the Second World War by wrapping it in mattresses and blankets. Surprisingly it did survive and only one small piece of glass had to be replaced, which they've marked with red glass.

Rooms are decidedly minimalist in decoration, appearing highly functional, can only guess what they were like when they used to rent by the hour!

I am going to reserve judgement until after our stay, however it does look wonderful and just the thing Savoir Faire will need after 7 hours up the back of the plane in economy class!

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