There is nothing more indulgent that staying in a top-notch hotel in the city that you live in. Let’s face it, how many people (apart from those seeking sexual gratification or justifying it by being honeymooners) would splurge £300-£400 on a room for a night in central London when they could let their oyster card take the strain? Hell, you could even get a cab home to somewhere remote like Surrey* for much less. (*I say this tongue-in-cheek as a bona fide Zone 1 dweller).
So, when One Aldwych kindly suggested I review their London hotel in Mid August, I jumped at the chance. It’s a pity it wasn’t on one of those stultifying, hot and sultry days earlier in the month as I could have done with the luxury of air conditioning on tap. Excellent by the way. I’ll say this early on. There’s nothing like checking into a room and discovering it too hot or too cold and then realising you require a technological wizardry with the room thermostat control. This one was darn easy to master and worked like a dream. I had my slightly-cooler-than-the- average room in quicker than norm time and slept like a baby because of it. Top marks. You see, it’s the little things that make the biggest of differences.
But lets concentrate on the hotel’s ambience, the amenities hotel has on offer and the staff service. One Aldwych is situated in a prime location Aldwych and The Strand and boasts floor-to-ceiling art nouveau windows to watch the passers-by from the haloed sanctity of the very comfortable, very chi-chi bar with the only thing missing – a low-key piano player. A bar that offers an array of cocktails provided by award winning bar staff mixologists who can mix a mean martini or champagne cocktail as we’d find out. It’s location means that it’s in the heart of theatre land and its restaurants and minutes from the Delauney. As if you needed to seek out restaurants when in a hotel that has both Axis and Indigo. But more of these later. One Aldwych’s location is a spot so ‘dans le vent’ that Me Hotel built a ginormous hotel on the opposite corner and staked a joint claim on the territory. But it appears to have only done One Aldwych and its superior reputation a favour.
I’d first got to know One Aldwych from stints in its interior during London Fashion Week where there’s more than a fair share of preening, prancing and swooshing going on. Regular One Aldwych guests must think, ‘What the hell is going on? Who are these people?’ as a variety of women in heels, laden down with phones & tablets and men with more attitude in their Nikes than the women’s combined quota of Louboutins, strut up and down in the glowing pink and yellow tinged mirrored lifts ( the real stars of the show – who can resist a pic?) to various suites. This time, I took it in my stride. My flip-flop’d, easy going, relaxed Friday stride.
Checking in was a breeze. Welcoming, polite staff informed me about my room, the bar and restaurants and the health club. Deep joy! The pool, a sauna, a steam room and an all-over, relaxing massage (£95) awaited me. This was no London Fashion Week rush job. I checked into my executive room on the 4th floor overlooking the competition (ie The Me Hotel) and with the sharp Shard in the distance. As one would expect, the bathroom with it’s excellent lighting was the first thing I checked out, laying out the ton and a half of toiletries I’d carted with me. No need for most as it was, as hand & body cream, shower gel, shampoo & conditioners were all there winking at me. I then unpacked my over-packed overnight bag so the huge wardrobe space with miles of shelving looked a little less empty. Checking out the mini-bar (well, it would have been rude not to), there was the usual temptresses of gin, vodka, wine and brandy but this was good girl day. I was there to do an afternoon of ‘health’. One afternoon in a l-o-n-g time of none was required. I put my iPod on shuffle (after phoning down to reception for an iPhone 5 converter lead – they had one) and put on my huge toweling robe before shuffling down in the lift to the Health Club. That’s one photo I wouldn’t wish to capture.
One Aldwych has a beautiful, blue, twinkling, modernist pool in the basement with luxury changing rooms to boot. I swam (probably less than the two kids in lifebelts who shared the pool) and then finished up in the steam-room by way of a short burst in the dry heat sauna. It’s a mystery to me why I prefer the dense heat and dripping wet of a steam-room yet cannot abide sultry weather that brings on my asthma. Contrary Mary as ever, I guess. But the steam room is a haven. It makes a body feel clean. I mean really clean. Toning my face in the changing rooms later, the steam had deep cleansed my skin. Result. I felt the benefit for days afterwards. It was time for the massage. The masseuse used a relaxing aromatherapy oil with added mango butter to condition my skin as her firm hands got to grips with my knotted back. “I am not liking this right side,” Tatjana said in her Eastern European accent while tsk’ing disapprovingly, ‘”It is very tense.” “You’re telling me,” I thought. It was only much later when I slept that I realised that she’d released knots as I slept flat on my back, dead to the world. The King Size bed and high tog yet lightweight duvet helped. As did the temperature and change in pace. This was just what I had needed to relax.
After the massage, I could have snoozed but my guest arrived to join me for cocktails and dinner. We chatted while we changed for dinner, like a pair of giggling school girls before we sauntered down in the lift with our perceived air of cool & ladylike. But more or our antics over cocktails and dinner later in part 2.
Little special touches like the macarons placed ever-so strategically on the bedside table to welcome you, notes left by the gracious staff, advice on the best local theatres and offbeat productions and fresh fruit left on the table only helped to make this stay special and comfortable. One Aldwych seems to give a very personal touch for such a grand modernist hotel.
Rooms at One Aldwych start from £264 (incl VAT) base don two people sharing a room. An Executive Room (like the one above) starts from £300 (incl VAT) based on two people sharing. The Lobby Bar is open Mon-Fri 8am-Midnight, Saturday 9am-midnight and Sunday 9am-10.30pm.