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Andaz Liverpool Street - London - REVIEW - MASTER THREAD

Andaz Liverpool Street - London - REVIEW - MASTER THREAD

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Old Nov 1, 07, 7:22 am
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Andaz Liverpool Street - London - REVIEW - MASTER THREAD

Hyatt assumed management of the historic Great Eastern Hotel (GEH) in early 2006 and several (some not particularly enthusiastic) reviews have appeared in FT – see

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showt...=great+eastern

Earlier this year Hyatt announced the introduction of ANDAZ™ - a new “Luxury Global Brand to Emphasize Personal Style and Independence”. It was also announced that the GEH will be rebranded and repositioned as ANDAZ following completion of extensive renovations in September 2007– see

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/showt...=great+eastern

The renovations seem to have taken a little longer than planned and I was told that the newly rebranded GEH will be fully operational in mid November.

I stayed at the GEH last week and I could not have been more impressed with the new style, comfort, facilities and level of service. I have stayed at hundreds of hotel throughout the world and believed that I had seen it all. I was wrong, the GEH was a completely new experience and I was most impressed.

From the moment of arrival (when I was met at the door by a smartly but somewhat casually dressed young man who completed the check-in using a lap-top on a table in the center of the “lobby”) I knew that I was in a different type of hotel. This impression continued during my various interactions with staff.

The check-in process was quick, smooth and professional and my Diamond status was recognized and I was informed that I had been upgraded to a King Studio room. I was conducted to my room and given a brief explanation of the facilities and services, which included:

• Free wi-fi
• Free internet connection in room using the TV set and a keyboard
• Free contents of mini bar (water, juices and soft drinks)
• Free films on demand (but you still have to pay for porn)
• Free breakfast (£25.50 if you bring a guest)

(All of the above are inclusive in the room rate)

The room was quite very comfortable and well appointed; with a 38 inch flat TV with a large select of local and international channels and about 25 movies. The room also had a satellite radio; and I-pod docking station (I-pods were also available from housekeeping); and a large safe that will hold a lap top. The bath room featured a quick-draw tub (I min to fill according to my guide) and a separate shower. Robes and slippers were also provided.

The breakfast service was quick, friendly and attentive. Any of items from the menu could be selected. A selection of newspapers was offered and coffee refills were frequent.

It is almost impossible to see any evidence of “HYATT” at all. In fact the only reference that I could fine was in the e-mail address on one of the documents.

I was especially impressed with the original and creative staff uniforms. Apparently there are four different uniforms and it is up to the individual staff member to select which one to wear on any given day. Some of the designs are “original” and a reminiscent of uniforms that I have seen on Star Trek.

All of the staff that I encountered were willing and friendly, and I was surprised with the number that greeted my by name.

The GEH in its ANDAZ format is an exceptional property superior to many of the Park Hyatts that I have experienced. I would most certainly return and I am looking forward to seeing how the ANDAZ concepy in implemented in other properties
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Old Nov 1, 07, 11:27 am
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Hmmm, I had a 1-night paid stay there on Oct 12 (Friday evening, so the hotel should have been pretty empty?) and while I did like the hotel overall (decor, room, location), I wouldn't say that I was impressed to the point where I would start comparing it to the Park Hyatts (especially the international Park Hyatts). Perhaps your experience was a bit tainted because it seems like you got an exceptional upgrade to the King Studio...but I think the norm at the GEH is to upgrade Diamonds 1 category up (i.e. from "City Single" to "Queen Double", or from "Queen Double" to "King Double"). In any case, I don't think the 1 category upgrade is all that significant, since the difference between the upgraded room and the originally booked room is only 2 square meters in size.

As for the hotel... I had the same feeling as you when I first walked in... The island was located slightly off-centered, with sofas next to it. If I'm not mistaken, this "lobby" that they use now is not the same as the "lobby/reception area" that is shown on the hotel's website. In any case, it is a rather refreshing concept, although I found it a bit confusing during peak periods when there are lots of customers around, as there was no line(s) to cue up.

Check-in was swift but other than the room upgrade, the staff did not voluntarily explain the other benefits of the Diamond program. For example, I had to ask about the breakfast benefit, as well as what the Diamond amenity was... For breakfast, I thought the GEH was very generous with this... They basically give you a credit, something like the £25.50 mentioned by Bondiboy for double occupancy. The credit can be applied through room service, or in my case, I opted for the "Terminus" restaurant. I thought the breakfast was very good quality at the "Terminus"...but I probably wouldn't shell out £25 for what we had if it's coming out of my own pockets. As for the Diamond amenity, the check-in staff had no idea what I was talking about and never got back to me. At check-out, I inquired again and the staff also was unaware of it, saying that the breakfast was the Diamond amenity. After checking with other staff, she finally came back and said that the Diamond amenity should have been the complimentary water in the fridge... Well, there was no sticker or card in or next to the fridge indicating that the bottled water was free...so, I ended up not getting the Diamond amenity. Hyatt GP has really got to do something about this Diamond amenity thingie. I think in the US, all of the Hyatt hotels pretty much know what they are doing. For international properties, the amenity varies greatly...sometimes nothing at all.

The room decor was quite modern and contemporary...the fridge, the safe, TV, furniture, etc., were all quite contemporary in style. The in-room safe didn't work in my room though...was locked before we even used it...didn't bother as it was a 1-night stay.

The bathroom in the King Double was just a standard bathroom... No separate shower and tub. No quick-draw tub. Don't quite remember the brand, but the toiletries were probably something that's just above average, nothing to write home about. Dental sets were only provided on demand.

As for the free Wi-Fi, free internet on TV, free minibar, free movies... I was not told of any of the above and quite frankly, I'm quite surprised that the hotel would offer so many things for free. I was told that if I wanted to use the internet, I could use the 2 computers next to the elevators on floor 1 (or 2?). Those computers were connected to a printer so one can print out boarding passes (no charge).

One last comment about the staff... They seem to be doing everything. They are receptionist/bell man/concierge all combined into one. When I got off the cab, there was no bell man in front of the entrance to help with the luggage. We had to go in to grab one of the receptionists. I was a bit confused about who to approach to help me with my luggage, or to help with a restaurant recommendation. I think this approach is fine as long as the staff can handle...but it's often difficult to do everything well all the time.

Again, don't get me wrong, we had a very nice stay at the hotel and enjoyed some of the more innovative approaches (e.g. I really liked to map/room key holder). The staff were also very nice. However, since it's still so new to the Hyatt family, it is still very much a work in progress before the staff get up to speed on all the fine points of the Hyatt program. I would not hesitate to stay there again during the weekends, when prices are more reasonable. During the weekdays, I think they charge something like £300~400 a night, which I would never pay for a 30 sq meter room.
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Old Nov 2, 07, 4:14 am
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Originally Posted by domirule View Post

... the staff did not voluntarily explain the .. benefits of the Diamond program. For example, I had to ask about the breakfast benefit ...As for the Diamond amenity, the check-in staff had no idea what I was talking about and never got back to me. At check-out, I inquired again and the staff also was unaware of it, saying that the breakfast was the Diamond amenity. After checking with other staff, she finally came back and said that the Diamond amenity should have been the complimentary water in the fridge..
I also asked about the Diamond Amenity and I received a blank stare. No effort was made to suggest that the breakfast free mini bar, TV movies or breakfast were related to my diamond status. When I asked specifically regarding how Diamond status was recognized, the reply was "by upgrading"

As I had a bowl of fruit in my room in addition to all of the free goodies, I did not wish to appear grasping so I did not pursue the amenity issue



As for the free Wi-Fi, free internet on TV, free minibar, free movies... I was not told of any of the above and quite frankly, I'm quite surprised that the hotel would offer so many things for free. I was told that if I wanted to use the internet, I could use the 2 computers next to the elevators on floor 1 (or 2?). Those computers were connected to a printer so one can print out boarding passes (no charge).
I got the distinct impression that the inclusion of the items mentioned - incl breakfast - was part of the ANDAZ concept. As evidence, the TV movies and TV Internet connection showed a ZERO price; the mini bar was completely replenished during my stay; and when I asked about the prices shown on the breakfast menu I was told that they only applied to any guest that I might bring
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Old Nov 2, 07, 7:02 am
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Did this renovation make any of the rooms LARGER than they were before? I have only seen two different room styles in my one stay at this hotel, but the first one was the "king studio" that domirule seems to regard as a major, unattainable upgrade, and it's about 25sqm; i.e., cruise ship cabin size. (The second was a weirdly shaped suite.)

Of course, if you mention the tiny room size to hotel staff, you get the standard reply which is used everywhere outside the U.S. to justify a tiny hotel room, "Hah hah! You know, of course, that rooms here in <insert country name> are traditionally smaller than in the U.S."
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Old Nov 2, 07, 8:20 am
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I have no experience of the GEH prior to the recent renovations; and I do not wish to appear as an advocate of this property - other than to say I was impressed with the new ANDAZ™ concept of staffing, attitude and inclusive services.

Just for the record. the various rooms types are as follows:

City Single 25 sq m
Queen/Double 27 sq m
King/Double 29 sq m
King Studio 32 sq m
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Old Nov 2, 07, 8:42 am
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The Oct 12 stay was my first stay at this property, so no basis of comparison. But it's intersting to note that the 3 of us had what appeared to be very different experiences... RichardInSF's king studio seems to be the equivalence of a City Single after the renovations (25 sq m). The King Studio nowadays is 32 sq m and appears to come with the amenities that Bondiboy received... I didn't have a fruit plate in my room...

So, perhaps it is just like what I said, a work in progress with many positive changes... Perhaps somebody else who's stayed there recently can share the experiences...
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Old Nov 2, 07, 10:40 am
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Looking at the website, the following appears on the top of the reservation page:
For all guests staying after, and including October 16, 2007, your rate will include the following; breakfast, Internet, healthy mini-bar, local telephone calls, blockbuster movies and laundry/pressing.
The rate for a Sat night in mid Dec is coming up with GBP 120 for a Queen Double, which given the above added amenities is not too bad
For the same night the cheapest rate at the Churchill is GBP 240 and that's without any extras
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Old Nov 2, 07, 10:44 pm
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OK, I'll accept that I was initially given a 32 m2 room and I guessed wrong about the size -- I was out of that room inside of about 5 minutes so didn't measure it! It's still pretty darn small.

But the extras do make it a lot more attractive value.

240 is pricey for the Churchill for a weekend night, btw, usually been running more like 160 lately when I've checked.
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Old Nov 3, 07, 1:08 am
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Originally Posted by mauld View Post
Looking at the website, the following appears on the top of the reservation page:
For all guests staying after, and including October 16, 2007, your rate will include the following; breakfast, Internet, healthy mini-bar, local telephone calls, blockbuster movies and laundry/pressing.
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Old Nov 3, 07, 10:10 am
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Mini Trip Report

I also wanted to add a minitrip report for our stay as a non diamond member:
Main entrance: confusing- the people on the laptops ARE the reception staff which is not completely clear.
Bars: on a weekend one was closed the other was empty, same goes for the restaurants
Room: Immaculate but tiny. We had the lowest room class with a nice view of the gherkin but you couldnt use the balcony as the windows were locked. The room was beautifully done out in a modern style. I would however rate it as average 4* decor, not 5*, toiletries were basic.. not your molton brown goodies or anything special. Shower was in the Bath. TV flatscreen. No long mirror but otherwise everything you could wish for except space.
Staff: extremely helpful, again not 5* "we know what you want even before you do" but i could not fault them.
Location: almost on top of Liverpool st with loads of shops, M&S for food etc.

Will we stay there again? Yes if we can get a good weekend rate, but we found the location to be along long way from the west end, and when we went out for the evening it cost £10 each way in the taxi which must be taken into account if you intend to take taxis rather than the tube. We are going to give the churchill a go as it is a better location, but if you are happy with the City location and you arent in the cheapest room, this is a very pleasant hotel.

This is definitely a good business hotel, but is NOT as good as a Park Hyatt (in my opinion), which has those touches you just cant put your finger on.
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Old Nov 3, 07, 10:11 am
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ps i forgot to say, its more like a good crowne plaza or marriott than a park hyatt!
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Old Nov 3, 07, 11:58 am
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Originally Posted by dreamytraveller View Post
ps

This is definitely a good business hotel, but is NOT as good as a Park Hyatt (in my opinion), which has those touches you just cant put your finger on.

... an later ..

i forgot to say, its more like a good crowne plaza or marriott than a park hyatt!
It all depends on which Park Hyatt you are using as a basis for comparison.

The Park Hyatts in Paris, Milan, Zurich,Tokyo, Dubai, Buenos Aires and Moscow are clearly superior to the GEH.

From my experience the GEH it is clearly on a par with the Park Hyatts in Canberra, Melbourne, Toronto and Saigon; and, is superior to the Park Hyatts in Johannesburg, Goa, Baku and Mendoza. I have not stayed in any of the Park Hyatt in the USA

dreamytraveller. did you get the free breakfast and other benefits?


By the way - for those who care about such things (I don't) - the bath products are by "White River Falls"

Last edited by Bondiboy; Nov 3, 07 at 12:04 pm
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Old Nov 3, 07, 11:44 pm
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Hmmm......I am not a fan of the service at either the PH Melb or Carmel but I would say the rooms in those two hotels are way ahead of the GEH.

I have stayed at the PH Chicago, Sydney, and Seoul. Those are also clearly superior to the GEH.
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Old Nov 3, 07, 11:53 pm
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Originally Posted by dreamytraveller View Post
toiletries were basic.. not your molton brown goodies or anything special.
That's a pity. Prior to conversion to Hyatt, they used Ren, whose flagship (original?) store was on the premise. Is the Ren store still there?
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Old Nov 4, 07, 11:34 am
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Originally Posted by sfvoyage View Post
That's a pity. Prior to conversion to Hyatt, they used Ren, whose flagship (original?) store was on the premise. Is the Ren store still there?
Maybe we should ask stimpy!
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