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5-Star Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel and its Freemasonry Secret Past

Published 15 February 2011

The Great Eastern Hotel first opened its doors to the Victorian public in 1884, shortly after the opening of Liverpool Street Station. Designed by the same family of architects behind the Palace of Westminster, the hotel is now a Grade II listed building.

In recent years, it has reopened as the Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel and offers guests a modern hotel experience against a rich backdrop of history, architecture and a touch of Freemasonry for good measure…

The other Sunday I was watching the film From Hell, starring Jonny Depp – you know the one! I sat there intrigued at the idea that London’s most infamous serial killer, Jack the Ripper, could have been a member of the secret society of Freemasons – members of which, like shadowy puppet masters, are thought to control society from behind the scenes.

Little did I know that a few days later I would find myself standing in the middle of a Freemasons temple, furnished with ionic columns, zodiac carvings, a grand-master-type throne and a bust to boot.

So it all began when I strolled into the Andaz hotel, situated on Liverpool Street. I entered with a preconception formed by two facts: one, it was a 5 star hotel and two it was situated minutes away from such City fixtures like the Bank of England, a part nationalised bank and a whole load of law firms. I expected the night to be a stuffy corporate affair.

However I was pleasantly surprised. Upon entering I was immediately greeted by a friendly face and offered a seat and drink at the lounge. No check-in desk? No, not in this hotel, we were told. At the Andaz, the staff come over to you with tablet PCs for check-ins in a more informal manner. “We aim to break down the barriers between us and our guests” the hotel staff member explained.

The Andaz, which means “style” in Hindi, attempts to bring a new approach to hotel customer service. In effect they look to recognise and respond to guests’ personal tastes, requests and preferences, doing away with the one size fit all approach. There is a definite emphasis on creativity and space to do things in your own “style” and this is reflected in its ultra modern interior decor garnished with random quotes painted and projected around the hotel’s common spaces.

Sitting alongside this modern feel, however, remains the old world skeleton coming through from details and features such as the opulent marble staircase and plaster cherubs adorned in one of the dining rooms. Not to mention the Masonic temple located in what felt like the basement (but in actual fact was at street level).

So I stood there in the centre of the temple floor trying to picture the kind of rituals that would have taken place in this very room. A chill of excitement ran through me as I contemplated the real possibility of Jack the Ripper attending one of the secret meetings that took place in this very temple, given its close proximity to the East End.

The story follows that this particular part of the hotel had been hidden for many years and was only discovered during its renovations in the 1990s behind a sealed wall. It is now available to be hired out for functions and corporate events. Upon discovery the Masons had initially asked for the right to regularly access the room, so the Hotel Manager explained. With this request being turned down, they even requested they be allowed to hire it out for their ceremonies on a reoccurring basis.

All in all I came away with a very positive experience of the hotel. It has a lot to offer its guests, bridging the gap between the City and the creative hubs of nearby areas such as Shoreditch and Hoxton.

Andaz Liverpool Street Hotel (formerly the Great Eastern Hotel)
Address: 40 Liverpool Street, London EC2M 7QN
Tel: +44 207 961 1234
Website: london.liverpoolstreet.andaz.hyatt.com
Rates for a Queen Room start from £265 (excl VAT) for Sunday to Thursday nights, and from £135 (excl VAT) on Friday and Saturday nights.