There is always something exciting about the lobby of Andaz London Liverpool Street. One time it had a bed in it, and a poet lay there reciting something or other while swigging, rather than delicately sipping the bubbly from the sponsor, Veuve Clicquot.
Right now there are shoes, or rather one of lots of pairs of amazing shoes, yes, here in this luxury hotel. Of course the gal was intrigued. It turns out that this is the launch of the current collection of high-stiletto footwear by CLEO B. I have always thought that fashion and luxury hotels go together like cheese and biscuits, or Riedel and Veuve Clicquot or Wagyu and Laguiole…
Certainly hotels, it must be said, go better with fashion than with diamonds (put diamonds in hotels down on the French Riviera these days and they have a good chance of being nicked, as Lev Leviev found out to a cost of some $136 million last week). But who is CLEO B? Apparently her shoes, presumably two of them, are worn by stars of the calibre of Paloma Faith and Jessie J. Still, they look great here in the hotel lobby. Look through to the back, to the pantry where you can help yourself to snacks and designer juices 24/7, and there is a large photo of woodland, and a wood sculpture with a pair of headphones. Put’em on and you hear birds twittering. Yes, installation art also goes with hotels.
Of course this has not always been a hotel. Way back in the 13th century, Bethlehem Hospital was on this site. The building that houses the present hotel is a contemporary of the adjacent Liverpool Street Station, built to celebrate the arrival of steam trains. The station’s clock looms over the station precinct, which has every modern convenience shop (like Marks & Spencer’s Simply Food) in it. Within a radius of half a mile you have the Barbican, the Museum of London, St Paul’s Cathedral and great markets for food and souvenirs (Borough and Spitalfields). This is very much a centre of English London
Up in room 574, my favourite as it is next to the elevator, I find English afternoon tea waiting, with home- made scones, and a cocotte of jam and another of clotted cream. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The correct way, here, is put on the jam, spoon the cream over and eat it so that dollops of cream smudge your lips and more.
Continue in the English vein, and head for the George pub, with old stained glass windows and glasses hanging above the bar serving area. Some people here probably have no idea they are in a hotel.
There are so many quaint areas in this entire 267-room hotel. Going down the 19th century marble staircase to the former Masonic temple – in Egyptian style, if you please – I look through at a modern installation (yes, more installation art, I guess), a separator that gives a bit of privacy to the area beyond. This used to be a seafood restaurant but since they have international and Japanese and English pub food already, perhaps there was no need for something specifically called Catch. So the powers at this somewhat-wacky luxury hotel (it is so perfect for 30-somethings who want to be even younger, and wear CLEO-B shoes), those bodies decreed that the seafood should all-day snackery.
This is ideal, say, for those who want a perfect croissant with a strong coffee or, later in the day, English afternoon tea with a pot of Earl Grey. Myself, I could not have bettered the proper breakfast room, 190, which has one of those copious and oh so healthy buffets that could turn you into a health nut immediately… but where else do you eat prunes and Greek yoghurt surrounded by marble and chandeliers in a room where perhaps the Station Master of Liverpool Street sat over 150 years ago?