‘London’s best kept secret’ is a phrase regularly thrown around to describe trendy food spots, hipster bars or hidden landmarks and greenery.
It is a cliché I have determinedly sought to avoid in my writing, but how else to describe a hidden Masonic Temple in Liverpool Street? What better place to do Vinyasa yoga in London?
A winding staircase leads you to a spacious mahogany-panelled anteroom where heavy yet camouflaged doors lead to the Grecian designed sanctuary, making it discoverable only to those in the know.
The Vinyasa class takes place inside, followed by a brunch in the Eastway Brasserie below. Their joint offering of the ‘My Body is a Temple’ wellness experience is taking place for two more weeks, on January 21 and 28.
Aside from the remarkable room, the entire hotel is entrenched in history because it was built on the site of England’s first hospital for the mentally ill – the Bethlehem Royal Hospital, which opened in 1247 and was often pronounced as ‘bedlam’.
The Victorian redbrick building was built as the Great Eastern Hotel in 1884 as one of London’s original railway hotels, designed by the architects of London’s famed Houses of Parliament. It underwent repeated renovation and expansion before it became part of the Andaz in 2006.
The grade I listed room dates back to 1912, when it was used exclusively by freemasons of the city. The century-old room was considered one of the grandest masonic temples of its time – as its marble columns and zodiac ceiling testify.
The class was the hardest but, without a doubt, the best I have ever done – followed only by a meditative Kundalini class I once took part in on a quiet beach spot in Mallorca, which was as nice as it sounds.
Instructor Marion Pearce began by clearly explaining the core moves – both the beginners and more advanced versions. In the past I have found it difficult to keep up with instructors who move quickly from pose to pose, but her explanations were both simple and eloquent so it was easy to follow.
I found myself pushing my body harder than I had expected and at times Marion would softly move me further into a position than I thought I could go. It felt wonderful.
While slower, softer yoga such as Hatha might be better suited to some, I am used to pushing my body when exercising and I very much enjoy this feeling. In previous classes it is something I have craved and so have not returned, but if a Psycle studio was close to my home or my work I would have already signed up for more.
After the incredible class we headed down to the brasserie for a two course brunch with bottomless fruit juices, mocktails and tea.
I am mid-way through veganuary (vegan January), so I chose the Avocado Garden with hummus, quinoa and pomegranate followed by the Cauliflower Biryani. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the second dish, but I was blown away.
Spiced shredded cauliflower was served with baby carrots, peas, beans and a spiced coconut cream. It was wonderful and surprisingly filling.
Despite the wellness package promising a vegan breakfast, there are both vegetarian and meat options such as pancakes, waffles, smashed avocado and salmon, Shakshuka poached eggs and the classics, such as a full English or eggs benedict and Florentine.
With just two more sessions taking place this month I have to say, despite being another phrase I tend to avoid, this is an event not to miss.
To book go to designmynight.com
This article was originally published at guardian-series.co.uk