So it’s Bank Holiday weekend and Panu and I are in London. I know, abysmal effort on our part to get away seeing as we’d just come back from Hong Kong and that virtual cheque book is still hurting just a little bit.
I wanted to do something though, anything so as to not waste this long weekend and so we decided, as you do (or maybe it’s just me), to play tourist in London and stay at a hotel.
I mean, why not, right? Right.
When we visited the City of Angels last year, Panu and I stayed at the Andaz in West Hollywood which aside from that time when we must have taken drugs and thought we were rich enough to stay at the Royalton NYC for a whole week, well, aside from that, this was the best hotel we’d ever stayed at. Better than the Bellagio. Stat.
So when it came to picking a hotel for this weekend just gone, it was a no brainer to check out Andaz Liverpool Street.
A subsidiary of the Hyatt chain of hotels, Andaz embodies the epitome of modern, comfort and cool from the suave décor to complimentary coffee and snack bar in the foyer.
London’s Andaz, located next to Liverpool Street Station, is particularly impressive as it incorporates a classic Victorian building which dates back to 1884. The plush, intertwining corridors are eclectically mixed with modern touches and Victorian architecture and enroute to getting lost, I guarantee you’ll find some surreal and historical nooks and crannies.
We stayed in a standard room, because I don’t yet have a sugar daddy to get me a suite. Oh hi Panu reads this? Hi! Well, the standard rooms are actually pretty nifty anyway with all the good stuff like robes, slippers and a flat screen tv, and even better stuff like complimentary wifi and even a complimentary “healthy bar” which includes juices, water and snacks. FREE!
Two things I didn’t like about the room though. One, the window looks out into the interior of the building, so you don’t see outside, it’s an “inside-outside”. You know what I mean.
Another thing I didn’t like is that the plumbing in the hotel uses the “vacuum” system, not unlike on an aeroplane. You know, that loud suction which used to terrify me as a child. Because of this system (which by the way uses only 20% of water compared to normal systems so greenie all the way), the flushes are loud, and the walls (read: pipes) makes really weird loud noises as you’re showering. Weird.
Anyway, focus on the free stuff and you’ll be happy.
Dinner at 1901 Restaurant
Never to miss a meal on a holiday, even if it’s just a made up one, I was thrilled to visit the Andaz’s 1901 Restaurant* for drinks, dinner and more drinks.
One of the hotel’s five dining establishments, I’d read some glowing reviews about 1901 but, and this is rare, our experience exceeded our expectations.
The staff were knowledgeable, polite and tremendously friendly, but not overstepping that fine boundary. And while I had been invited to dine at 1901, it wasn’t preferential treatment as I could see the staff engage all guests in the same way: talking, discussing menu’s/wines/cocktails and providing really some of the best service I’ve experienced.
Anyways, let’s talk about food.
We started with a amuse bouche, a cocktail and some bread. The amuse bouche was a kind of potato puree which was smooth, flavoursome and as with all amuse bouches ever created, it teased my little taste buds and left me aching for more.
And the cocktails oooh lah lah… Sadly, 1901 doesn’t have a full cocktail menu online but I can totally vouch that they have an extensive and creative cocktail menu and having said that, I have no idea what I’m sipping in that there photo (that was Panu’s cocktail) but mine was called a Butterfly, which was a bellini with lychee and mandarin juice. So good.
Onto the starters ~ Panu chose the home cured salmon with citrus fruits, served with beets. He enjoyed his starter, but also did say it was just salmon really, and I did see him ogle my starter for quite a few minutes. I guarded mine closely.
Having read LondonEater’s review of 1901 and consequently having to wipe drool off my keyboard, I followed his advice and ordered the beef tartare, if not for the tartare itself then for the marrow toast and truffle mayonnaise. The beef tartare starter was divine. Marinated wonderfully, the melt-in-your-mouth tartare melted in my mouth and the accompaniments hit the spot. A dash of truffle mayonnaise to flavour up the tartare and the marrow toast completed the perfection of this meal.
For his main, Panu had the poached and roasted rump of beef, accompanied by a pot of truffle mash (which I eyed this time and wanted to borrow. Indefinitely) ~ we spotted a neighbouring couple ordering this and it looked fabulous on their plate, and even more so in front of us. The beef was cooked skillfully – it wasn’t the kind of melt-in-your-mouth softness you sometimes get, it was a solid piece of beef but tender it was. Not one inkling of chewiness, the rump of beef gave you something to bite on, and gave way to a luscious meatiness and with the truffle mash, really was an all consuming and satisfying dish. Panu highly recommends!
Not normally one to order fish out, I went a little renegade and opted for the pan fried fillet of seabass for my main and you wanna know why? Cos I felt like roasted parsnips. Yes, my stomach works in mysterious ways. I wasn’t disappointed though. As far as fish mains go, this one was brilliant – cooked just right (because many restaurants over cook fish and I hate that) and look at that crispy fried skin. Fish oils are good for me, right? Oh and those green things? Pennywort. Some herb which I met for the first time and we’re now friends.
Onto dessert and wow. Wow. That’s all.
Ok that’s not all. I ordered a mint parfait, served with mint sorbet and chocolate and vanilla cream. Wow (again). It looked like a chocolate dusted slab of something but hidden within was the lightest parfait to have ever touched these lips and even more amazingly? Laced with Fresh. Mint. I mean, mint flavoured things (except for fresh mint tea) rarely come with fresh mint. The flavour explosion is so much more intense than the tiny pop of mint flavour extract. This was just insanely good.
Panu had the brandy bread and butter pudding - the menu doesn’t allude to the fact that it is served with prunes (unless the prunes were a daily special) but soaked in brandy and served with prunes and prune ice cream, it all actually worked fantastically and again he recommends this.
1901 is on a roll right now with Panu recommending two out of three of this meals and I’m recommending all three of mine. After a little stretch and loosening of the belt, we finished off with a coffee, which is accompanied by the cutest little chocolate and vanilla cupcakes. Oh and be warned, the coffee comes in a giant plunger and this is for one.
After dinner Panu and I left 1901 to explore the nether regions of the Andaz Hotel, hoping to enjoy a drink at one of their other restaurants or bars. Catch, the seafood restaurant, is partnered with a Champagne Bar, but there was no one in there. Not one person. And after having seen 1901’s cocktail menu, we wandered back with our tails between our legs.
A marble bar runs across the centre of the room in 1901, resulting in a modern and approachable “open bar”. The bar manager, an interesting fellow, happily chats about their various poisons and cocktails and even explains the importance and weight (literally) of the glasses they use and how it affects the drink. Loved the guy.
I had a bit of a weird and not-so-pretty cherry something so we won’t talk about that. But Panu scored well with a lethal after-dinner cocktail, the Toasted Coconut, which basically consists of Koko Kanu coconut rum, Baileys and Frangelico. That’s it. No mixers. Helps your digestion, the bar guy said.
With a huge meal and some “digestives” in our belly, we wandered back to our room and chillaxed for the rest of the evening. In reality it wasn’t very long before I was knocked out and slept like a baby.
Morning stretched across our room through our inside/outside window and look at that, I’m hungry again. We had the breakfast package for our hotel stay and so off we went. The Andaz offers two breakfast options: a buffet at 1901 or a la carte at Eastway, their brasserie style venue. Guess which one we picked. Ok don’t guess.
By day, the marble open bar turns into a family-friendly breakfast buffet and houses all the standard stuff that you’d expect from an English breakfast. In addition, there’s some cold meats, cheeses, salmon and capers and a large variety of fruits, yoghurts and pastries.
Having loved the dinner so immensely, I have to say breakfast was a little lacking. Well, it was ok, but you know, it’s just English breakfast. Nevertheless I fuelled up because it’s a buffet and damned if I need to eat again before dinner time.
So that was our little holiday in London and a fantastic stay at Andaz Liverpool Street. Granted we didn’t do a lot of touristing (darned rain, but hey this is part of holidaying in London!), I still felt like we had a break and recharged for crazy busy month at work that’s hitting me right in the face.
* I was invited to dine at 1901 by the Andaz Hotel, and many thanks to Gekko for organising this. If you haven’t heard of them already, Gekko is a fantastic one-stop-shop to discover great new hotels across the globe and to match hotels to your specific likes and needs.
1901 Restaurant @ Andaz Liverpool Street
40 Liverpool Street
London, EC2M 7QN
0207 961 1234