One Aldwych is a gem of a boutique hotel in London’s vibrant theatre land. We stayed for a night in December to soak up the city’s Christmas atmosphere and kick-start that festive feeling. We liked the idea of skating at Somerset House, watching street performers at Covent Garden or checking out the Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square. Thing is, once we’d stepped through the welcoming doors of One Aldwych we really didn’t want to leave…
The History of One Aldwych
Designed by Anglo-French partnership, Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis, of London and Paris Ritz hotel fame the building is classically Edwardian. It sits on the corner, where Aldwych curlicues into The Strand, and first opened its doors in 1907 as the offices of the Morning Post Newspaper. In the years since it’s been home to The Ministry of Defence, spent time as a bank and dished up epicurean delights as an upscale Brasserie. The eye-catching triangular-shaped building, which is English Heritage protected, is one of London’s few independent hotels and a member of Leading Hotels of the World.
As we stepped inside One Aldwych we were hit by the welcoming warmth and buzz of the Lobby Bar. We checked in and were told that our room was ready but the hotel wanted to do a final check on all the switches and lights. How refreshing was that – there’s nothing more irritating than a bedside lamp that’s not working. Meanwhile, we were invited for drinks in the Lobby Bar with its beautiful, towering Christmas tree.
Each year the tree, which towers up to the ceiling, has a new theme. The sparkling white tree made me feel like a child again as I gazed up into its branches. Over a hundred little white bird-boxes rested amid the boughs and frosted ferns, each dusted with snow and sparkling with crystals and snowflakes. Red-breasted robins peeped out from the boxes and perched on snow laden branches whilst soft white fairy lights cast a magical glow. It was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. But even if it’s not the Christmas season when you visit you’ll still be treated to breathtaking floral displays by resident florist Mark Siredzuk.
One Aldwych has a contemporary edge and a cool calm colour palette of muted sage greens and greys. This continues throughout the public areas and the rooms. A collection of over 400 pieces of contemporary art and sculpture are displayed around the hotel. Most noticeably in the Lobby Bar you’ll find Boatman with Oars by André Wallace and at reception Justine Smith’s ‘Beano’ dog complete with comic strip coat. Every bedroom features a piece of original art.
Deluxe Room at One Aldwych
Our Deluxe Room with double aspect windows was a spacious haven of calm with views of The Lyceum and London’s theatre land. The deliciously comfortable bed with fine linen and feather-filled duvet made for a dreamy night’s sleep. Triple-glazed windows dressed in sumptuous silk ensured peace and quiet. The room featured a small desk bearing welcome chocolates and fruit. Two reading chairs sat nearby with a selection of well-chosen magazines.
A Nespresso machine and well-stocked mini-bar ensured a choice of refreshment for the pickiest of guests. A flat-screen HD TV and I-pod docking station and Sony sound system took care of entertainment needs together with complimentary high-speed Wi-Fi. For convenient by-the-bed phone charging sockets are built into the headboard. The wardrobe was spacious and we used the nifty safe deposit box sneakily installed behind a picture on the wall. When we eventually found it…
The light and airy en-suite bathroom featured 100% pure and natural bath products from T London. There was a large bathtub was perfect for wallowing in clouds of bubbly bliss and separate walk-in power shower. A decent hairdryer was provided and other features included under-floor heating, mist-free mirrors and marble tops. One of my hotel gripes is only having one bath sheet and one tiny hand towel per guest. This means having wet hair drip down your back whilst trying to dry yourself (or pinching hubby’s towel to wrap around your head). This wasn’t the case at One Aldwych who provided plenty of soft, white, fluffy towels with matching robes and slippers.
The Lobby Bar
The high-ceilinged Lobby Bar is located in the front of the building’s triangle with the bar taking up the apex. A mix of high-backed chairs, tub chairs and banquet seating give the room an eclectic feel. It’s the hotel hub and there’s a lively atmosphere with people stopping by for ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ inspired afternoon tea or a cheeky tipple during the day. There’s a buzzy evening crowd making it the perfect place to meet for drinks before heading off to the theatre. The Sunday Telegraph has named The Lobby Bar one of the top five hotel bars worldwide so I’d advise that you book as it’s a suitably ‘happening’ place.
We had drinks in the bar before dinner, my delicious ‘Winter Wonderland’ cocktail complementing that wonderful Christmas tree perfectly. The Christmassy cocktail is a deep ruby colour and served in a martini glass. Made with Dom de Canton, Cherry Heering, Chuncho Bitters, wild berry syrup, cinnamon, sugar syrup and fresh lemon juice it’s all topped off with a snowy cinnamon foam. Mr Jones chose a more straightforward Hendrick’s gin and tonic.
The relaxed and informal Indigo restaurant on the hotel’s mezzanine level was the venue for dinner. The restaurant features seasonal British produce created by Executive chef Dominic Teague which also happens to be entirely gluten and dairy-free. We chose from the à la carte menu both starting with Organic Rhug estate pork, crackling, Granny smiths and truffle mayonnaise which was delicate and subtle with a light, crisp bite to the crackling.
For the main course I chose Brixham monkfish braised in lemon grass, coriander and coconut milk. The meaty fish contrasted well with the zesty flavours of the lemon grass and coriander. Mr Jones chose 28 day aged grass-fed Scottish beef served with roast shallot, hand cut chips and soft herb salsa.
The succulent beef was perfectly cooked and the chips, one or two of which may have made their way to my plate, were beautifully crisp. We finished with a dessert of rich Amedei chocolate mousse, honeycomb and almond milk ice cream. The flavours and textures complimented each other beautifully. This was accompanied by an extremely quaffable bottle of Cape Heights Merlot. Check the Indigo menu for seasonal changes and pricing.
With One Aldwych located right in the heart of theatre land you might consider dining before or after a show and enjoying the theatre menu at £25 for three courses or £20 for two.
Breakfast at One Aldwych
Breakfast is served in Indigo restaurant on the balcony overlooking the Lobby Bar. I ordered my favourite hotel breakfast of Eggs Benedict which were perfectly cooked with yolks of just the right consistency. Mr Jones thoroughly enjoyed his full English accompanied by large cups of aromatic coffee, I had English breakfast tea. Lots of other options are on the menu including smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, pastries, porridge muesli and fruit.
One Aldwych Spa
Beneath the hotel where the Morning Post’s printing presses used to roll is the One Aldwych Health Club. Guests have 24 hour access to the 150 square metre, fully equipped gym. I was there for spa time and an Oskia Signature Glow Facial – Oskia is a British brand. My skin had 75 glorious minutes of pampering by Victoria who made it a completely indulgent experience. My skin felt fabulous for ages afterwards and I recently bought some of the Oskia products to use at home.
The heated indoor pool
This is probably the only pool in London where you can swim under the clouds in January and not turn blue. The subterranean, chlorine-free 18 metre pool has mood lighting and underwater music for a soothing atmosphere. A wonderwall at one end transports swimmers with images of fluffy clouds and shoals of mesmerising fish. If you’d like to heat things up there is a steam room and sauna.
One Aldwych Cinema – Film and Fizz
The hotel offers film and fizz evenings in their small, but perfectly formed, cinema. Sink back into a luxurious leather armchair to watch a blockbuster movie as you sip a chilled glass of bubble. Afterwards, enjoy dinner in Indigo to round off your silver screen evening.
One Aldwych is the perfect antidote to the winter. I can see a visit becoming an annual tradition to break the mid-winter gloom and get into the festive spirit. It would be a wonderful Valentine venue for a luxurious stay or to enjoy the Film and Fizz evening followed by dinner. In fact, I’d be more than happy to stay at One Aldwych any day of the year.
One Aldwych is the perfect base for a London break, just steps away from Covent Garden, Royal Opera House and West End theatres. Slightly further afield, but easily walkable, are the South Bank, Tate Modern or Trafalgar Square. Charing Cross is a ten-minute walk away and the nearest tube station is Temple.
One Aldwych Hotel
Tel: +44 (0)20 7300 1000
E-mail: [email protected]
DISCLOSURE: My thanks to One Aldwych who kindly invited me to stay at their London property. All views and Lobby Bar love are completely my own. This review is my honest opinion and I retain full editorial control.