Muddy reviews One Aldwych: London
Overnighter in the Big Smoke or planning a post-pandemic theatre jaunt? Treat yourself with a stay at this stunning, super-luxe hotel, just a stone's throw from the West End.
Slap bang in the middle of Covent Garden, in normal times One Aldwych is a theatre lover’s dream, a ten-minute walk to over twenty top West End theatres – you can literally eat your breakfast looking over the Lyceum Theatre, long time home of The Lion King. A striking, three-sided Edwardian building that was once the HQ of The Morning Post newspaper, you’re perfectly placed here as a tourist in one of its 102 rooms and suites – the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square is a 10 minute walk, you’re a 5 minute stroll to the best shops in the city and bang on Waterloo Bridge for access to South Bank and the Houses of Parliament.
Grown-up luxury. Big statement pieces of mostly modern art adorn walls, fresh flowers are everywhere, the concierges know who you are the moment you enter the building and everything is en pointe. When I visited it was relatively quiet (isn’t everywhere in London right now?), the Lobby Bar with its huge centrepiece sculpture is usually buzzing with pre and post theatre crowds, but is more gentle experience right now.
There’s a feeling of the Tardis to One Aldwych – I’d no idea that along with the elegant dining room upstairs that looks down onto the bar area , there’s a quiet Library space for residents only, a 24 hour gym, subterranean spa with 18 metre pool (a real calling card), private cinema as well as a second restaurant, Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar is led by Eneko Atxa, the brains behind three Michelin-starred restaurant Azurmendi in Bilbao that plans to re-open, Covid-permitting, in March.
SCOFF & QUAFF
It’s hard to find a USP in a part of London spilling over with excellent restaurants but One Aldwych’s Indigo hangs its hat on being of the city’s best entirely dairy and gluten free restaurants. Importantly for piggy eaters like me whose only dietary requirement is ‘more please’, the food is exquisite and you literally can’t tell you’re eating healthily.
I ate here for dinner on a Thursday night and was pleasantly surprised that it was pretty full – we all know by now that creating that buzz of a restaurant space but with tables safely apart is a tricky one but I definitely felt the thrill of being ‘out’, and I liked the theatre of coming up in the lift, and the restaurant opening out before me, and the feeling of space, sitting in an area where we could see the Lobby Bar beneath.
The predominantly British menu at Indigo, from Executive Chef Dominic Teague, focuses on classics done well. I started with Chalk Stream Farm cured trout, Exmoor caviar, cucumber, radish (£14), prettily presented and perfectly balanced flavours (below)
…before moving on to a steamed Brixham turbot with braised leeks and crushed potatoes, a dish raised to delicious by a rich lobster reduction.
Dessert is where gluten and dairy free takes its ultimate test – but you’d never guess that my blackberry mousse with meringue, apple sorbet and English rose sabayon wasn’t the real deal.
Service was attentive but not over-fussy, a compliment I’d give to the hotel in general actually.
Breakfast the next morning, again at Indigo, I changed my view to this one – not bad right?
Breakfast was was a full English. Just because.
It’s an irony that flash hotels, with their stunning public spaces, can sometimes let you down with their pokey bedrooms. Not an accusation I can lay at One Aldwych whose recently-refurbed, bright rooms hit the stylish side of elegant.
I definitely drew a long straw staying in The Dome, a 67m stunning suite living area, kitchenette, walk-in wardrobe and, my favourite room, the circular bedroom with view out over Waterloo Bridge but unless you have a spare £1,490 per night down the back of the sofa, you might prefer a classic room starting from £412.
If you’re coming with kids, it’s possible to book interconnecting rooms (there’s a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed afternoon tea that will send your children to heaven and back) and One Aldwych now offers dog-friendly stays too, if you can’t bear to leave your four-legged buddies at home.
Obviously if you’re staying over, the hotel facilities are all open to you. I performed a Muddy first and actually used the hotel gym (I know, a miracle), small by leisure centre standards but decent for a hotel, with brand new kit like Peloton bikes and a coffee machine for those who couldn’t quite be bothered to work up a sweat. The swimming pool is gorgeous and after a day pounding the streets of London, a welcome way to unwind.
OUT AND ABOUT
Well, you’re in the heart of London, you can literally spend morning to night seeing the sights! Use my guide to start you off, and add to it the local, slightly off the radar choices of Somerset House, Embankment Gardens, and The John Soane’s Museum (above) in Lincoln Inn Fields.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Primarily I’d say this is a brilliant hotel for couples or friends, and ideal for weekend breaks so you can really make the most of the relaxing spa and pool for a wind-down, though families would also be well catered for. The addition of dog-friendly rooms will appeal to those who can’t bear to be parted from their pets.
Not for: Those with very young children who love to smear and prod expensive art works might prefer a less grown-up hotel!
£££: Double rooms start from £412. In Indigo restaurant, starters are £10 – £14, mains range from £18 for Chickpea Panisse up to £32 for Loin of Rhug Estate venison. Desserts are all around £12. There are also several packages available including Love London (for two) and Love London Family (up to four). Check them all out here.
One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych London WC2B 4BZ. Tel: +44 (0)2073001000