Story by Melanie Votaw
Photos by Malanie Votaw and One Aldwych
One Aldwych Hotel
London, England WC2B 4BZ
One Aldwych Hotel is a 5-star, modern, high tech property that’s centrally located in the Covent Garden area of London. The name of the hotel is also its address, and it’s right on the corner where the Aldwych meets the Strand, opposite Waterloo Bridge. The triangular Edwardian/Parisian building was erected in 1907 as a newspaper office and became an independent hotel in 1998. It was designed by the same architects who built the Ritz Hotels in both London and Paris and has features such as curved corners and a coppered cupola dome.
Obviously, the interior has been refurbished since 1998, as it’s one of the most modern properties I’ve ever encountered. For an Edwardian building, the interior décor is surprising and can best be described as “ultra cool chic.” Even the elevators have a sort of kaleidoscope mirrored finish on the walls and floors, along with fluorescent lighting. When I stepped in, I felt like I was shooting a rock video.
My room had some great modern touches as well. A button on the wall next to the door allowed me to choose “make up room,” “do not disturb,” or “neutral.” The safe was in the wall behind a picture of a key. The room had two nightstands, a desk and chair, ample closet space, and two extra mauve chairs that matched the curtains. I also had fresh orchids in both the bedroom and bathroom. (The hotel has its own in-house florist.)
There was no iron or ironing board in my room, but when I requested them, they were brought up immediately. I also had a minibar, iPod docking station, CD and DVD player, and flatscreen HDTV. I especially liked the décor in the bathroom with brown marble, extra counter space and towel racks, a towel warmer, and a stylish round sink.
One Aldwych has 93 rooms and 12 suites total, and there are six room categories. Every room contains original art, Italian linens, and complimentary WiFi. Suites include a Nespresso coffee machine. Besides the original art in the rooms, the common areas of the property are filled with contemporary art, including sculpture – 400 pieces throughout.
The hotel also has a 150-square meter health club simply called “The Health Club.” Guests have 24-hour access to the machines, steam and sauna rooms, and the 59-foot chlorine-free pool. While the hotel doesn’t have a full spa, there are three treatment rooms for Natura Bissé and OSKIA treatments.
There are five small spaces for meetings, private dining, and receptions, some of which can accommodate up to 80. There is also a screening room for 30, where the hotel regularly hosts “Film and Fizz” evenings for guests who enjoy champagne and a three-course meal while watching a film.
One Aldwych has a lounge on the ground floor only for guests called “Lounge at One,” which contains books and comfy sofas. They serve light dishes, cocktails, wine, and hot drinks from early in the morning until 10:00 p.m. every night but Sunday, when it closes at 8:00 p.m.
But the place to have a drink, in my opinion, is the Lobby Bar, which was voted one of the top five hotel bars in the world by the Sunday Telegraph. It was easy to see why. (I hope to live in London for a while next year, and I will return to this bar!) Besides the fashionable décor and comfortable places to sit, the cocktails are simply inspired. The menu changes periodically, but the unusual flavors you might find in your drink include lavender, rose, lychee, passionfruit, pomegranate, lemongrass, rhubarb, plum, apricot, rosemary, red currant, or cardamom. My delicious concoction was garnished with a white orchid blossom.
Perhaps my favorite part of One Aldwych, however, is its restaurant called “Indigo.” This is a very unique place – the only restaurant I’ve ever heard of, in fact, that serves an entirely gluten-free and dairy-free menu. No, it isn’t vegan. There is meat on the menu, but no gluten and no dairy products. This is perfect for me, as I eat meat but try to avoid the other two. It was a pleasure not having to ask if there was milk or cheese in any of the dishes that interested me.
I haven’t had chocolate mousse in years because I can’t have dairy products, but I was able to have a delicious dairy-free chocolate mousse and pistachio “ice cream” at Indigo without being able to tell they contained no cream or milk. In fact, Indigo’s Executive Chef Dominic Teague cut the gluten and dairy from his menu quietly in the beginning, and diners didn’t even suspect it. The gluten and dairy alternatives used include almond milk, coconut oil, buckwheat flour, olive oil, and rice milk.
Indigo is located on a mezzanine floor where you can overlook the lobby. My friend and I sat in orange cushioned chairs and enjoyed watching the activity below. The menu includes items like gluten-free, hand-rolled gnocchi and dairy-free watercress soup with poached Burford Brown hen’s egg. Or try the Brixham monkfish braised in lemongrass, coriander, and coconut milk. Of course, the menu is seasonal and changes periodically, but everything we ate was excellent.
The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner pre- or post-theatre. Coming this summer will be another restaurant within the hotel, a “relaxed Basque” eatery and bar by Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa.
I recommend the One Aldwych wholeheartedly. There is tremendous attention to detail, and the staff has been trained meticulously to provide the best possible service. It’s in a great location, is a veritable art gallery, has some of the best food and drink in London (which is saying a lot), and is both high tech and comfortable. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, be sure to check out the Lobby Bar and Indigo when you’re in the UK’s big city.
© June 2016 LuxuryWeb Magazine. All rights reserved.