I’m going to tell you a secret.
But first, let me give you a bit of back story of where this happened.
When I was first told about an evening of journey through time at the Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel (formerly the Great Eastern Hotel dated back to 1884), I knew that an adventure awaited me at one of London’s traditional railway hotels.
With the expansion of the railways in the middle of the 19th century in London, the small number of inns could no longer cope with the influx of travellers across the country. To escape the traffic of London central zones, and positioned the higher end of the market, railway companies commissioned lavishly decorated hotels, featuring works of impressive architecture talent at the end of the century.
Despite the passage of time, Andaz had preserved the beautiful period features of the former Great Eastern Hotel and dazzled the structure to life with new additions and renovations.
The night started off at Catch Champagne Bar & Lounge, where all of us foodies were joined by the lovely hotel management, our friends at Zomato and Nuffnang.
We sipped glasses of champagne and noshed on boards of charcuterie and colourful hors d’oeuvres while I admired the beautiful archways and stained glass bar. The table was very much on theme with the Chelsea Flower Show, with the green pasture spread before us like an indoor picnic dotted with flowers. A bucket of ice cold Laurent-Perrier champagne was featured as the centre-piece du jour.
A great way to start the evening and my kind of meet-and-greet! I could imagine myself meeting friends here after a hectic day about in Spitalfields, and sink into one of these comfortable seats with a live guitarist jamming into the evening.
With the alcoholic picnic out of the way, we were led to our next stop. This is where the hotel’s secret began.
When the Andaz had gone under refurbishment in the late 90’s, the construction team came across a hollow compartment in the building. Upon further inspection and drilling, they found hidden Masonic Temples, Egyptian themed secret meeting place kept in absolutely mint condition.
The Freemasons traced all the way back to the Stonemasons fraternity, and is an absolute non-political, non-religious organisation. Supposedly, many joined the club for various reasons, potentially to make new friends in a very highly regarded circle, or to help charitable causes through their influential status. They were able to boast famous members, with individuals such as Nat King Cole and Winston Churchill who were both part of this secret society.
Standing in this historic and stunning setting, I couldn’t help but imagine what type of meetings and discussions took place back then when this was used as a mason lodge.
Who was sitting on that top seat in the front, and what were they all wearing?
Black Harry-Potter like robes with wigs perhaps?
Leading up from the temple, we were put up to the challenge of creating a concoction of fruity berries and exotic liquors in the Eastway Brasserie.
The skilful bartender whipped up a demonstration in no time, and I was itching to try it myself. Given this was only my second cocktail making experience, with my first time at the Grouper launch party, I had to say it was pretty tasty. Although, after seeing these mini burgers and fresh fried cod, I couldn’t keep my hands away.
For the final stop of our first class, whistle stop tour around the Andaz, we headed over to 1901 restaurant for our penultimate course of the night. Dessert wine, cheese and yummy cakes were waiting and calling out our name.
The 1901 restaurant featured a beautifully decorated stained glass dome. It was sadly hit in the World War, but only one slice of the glasses was damaged, which was subsequently replaced with a red coloured piece to signify the British bull-dog spirit of “never giving in”. See if you can spot it?
As we nibbled on these lovely cakes and chocolates, the very kind sommelier offered his favourites of the gigantic cheese board before us while he matched our taste buds with carefully selected dessert wine. Of course, with any cheeseboards, there was always a universal debate of our favourite ones.
As I waved goodbye after filling my belly with cheese, I couldn’t believe that all of this time, a beautiful gem and a piece of history was right around the corner from my old stomping ground in the City.
Having at least tried the Japanese restaurant Miyako, one of the 7 bars and restaurants at the Andaz, I certainly will be back again to further explore those featured on our tour.
Thanks again to the amazing team at Zomato, Nuffnang, and Andaz Hotel for making this a truly magical evening and for having me as part of the first class journey back in time.
Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel
40 Liverpool Street, London EC2M 7QN