There aren’t many London theatreland hotels that still possess the razzle dazzle of the West End but when a timeless classic comes around you know it’s in for a long run. A stone’s throw from Covent Garden and The Strand, One Aldwych hotel has all the grandeur of a Grade II listed building with the warmth of a family home. In a city where contemporary design reigns over historic nostalgia, One Aldwych manages to balance the two in a juxtaposition throughout its 111-year old walls.
Designed by Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis, the Anglo-French partnership behind the Ritz hotels in London and Paris, the Flatiron-shaped building is one of the capital’s coolest hang-outs. Once home to Tatler, The Morning Post and The British Gazette of which Sir Winston Churchill was Editor, it became one of London’s most fashionable spots after a huge renovation in the late nineties. With a cocktail menu packed with theatre-themed mixes and historic old faithfuls (no pun intended!), the Lobby Bar is a destination in itself. With high ceilings, grand pillars and oversized sculptures, it’s the epicentre of the hotel’s hubbub. Named one of the top five hotel bars in the world by The Sunday Telegraph, it breaks the mould of inaccessible stuffy hotel bars thanks to its open-door policy and conceptual flower displays.
If, however, you’re looking for a little more exclusivity away from the busy cityscape, One Aldwych has a little drama of its own. Lounge at One is a guest-only nook hidden away behind a concealed wall off the hotel entrance. Run by dedicated hosts, it features comfortable sofas and a selection of books which have been selected by celebrated British fashion designer Paul Smith from the neighbouring bookshop of world-leading publisher Rizzoli. While fun in concept, it lacked the atmosphere and attentive staff of the Lobby Bar.
But when the time for quiet escapism called, we couldn’t have found a more elegant hideaway than our Executive bedroom. High above the daily commute, it’s the perfect space to snuggle down with a cup of tea and one of the in-room glossy mags. With Italian bed linen, feather and down duvets and an oversized bath, it was any wonder we were able to tear ourselves away for dinner at Indigo at One Aldwych. But with the words “gluten and dairy-free menu” ringing in my ears I was too intrigued not to hot foot it down to the first floor to sample Executive Chef Dominic Teague’s inventive delights.
Overlooking the buzzing Lobby Bar, the comfy armchairs and crisp white tablecloths bridge the gap between fine dining and an informal eaterie. With an open mind and a rumbling stomach, we found the menu to be fresh, seasonal and bursting with flavour. From Seared Orkney Scallops to Chocolate Mousse, there wasn’t a whiff of compromise on the flavour that’s so synonymous with free from cuisine. Granted, the customary bread basket left a lot to be desired but what the meal lacked in spongey dough it more than made up for in taste as we were left not only satisfied but with our top button intact! Perhaps there’s something in this free from movement after all!
While wellbeing may not be a focal point for One Aldwych, it’s engrained in every element of their guest experience. They care without marketing it as such. By offering Film & Fizz nights (which includes a three-course meal, champagne and a blockbuster movie in their screening room) and Roald Dahl-themed afternoon tea, they provide an outlet for the over-worked and a haven from the hustle of London life. And who doesn’t need that every now and again?
One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BZ, England.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7300 1000
Located in the heart of London in Covent Garden, between the City and the West End – at the point where the Aldwych meets the Strand, directly opposite Waterloo Bridge. The nearest Tube stations are Charing Cross (Bakerloo and Northern lines) and Covent Garden on the Piccadilly line.
Type of Hotel: 5-Star Luxury Hotel
Number of Rooms: 93 rooms and 12 suites including complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel
Price Band: Expensive
Insider Tip: For a blissful afternoon make sure you check out the hotel’s luxury spa and pool which even has under water music!
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Jessica Harris is a UK-based journalist with a background in fashion, beauty and travel journalism.
Photographs courtesy of One Aldwych