At the end of a flight many airlines have the pilot get on the speaker to extend a thank you to travelers with the oft repeated tag line: “We know you have a choice of airlines so we appreciate that you’ve chosen to fly with us today.” The same holds true for hotels. Nowadays any major city has a wide variety of accommodations to choose from. Two key factors that influence your decision are usually location and cost. In the luxury market, that criterion expands to include service, style and additional amenities.
After a recent three week trip to the UK, which included a wonderful ramble through the Lake District, my sister and I decided to spend our final night at one of London’s top hotels. After hours of research, we decided on the bespoke property, One Aldwych, leading us to the conclusion that should we ever be confined to house arrest, please, let it be there. One Aldwych checks off every requirement named above plus several unique ones that I hadn’t previously considered.
For a real treat, try to reserve the Deluxe Suite - Suite 410, which has a large circular room overlooking the River Thames and a private gym. Or maybe the Suite 500, which also has its own gym plus stunning views from a private roof terrace.
The standard rooms are not enormous but are exceedingly comfy and thoughtfully laid out, particularly for a girlfriend getaway. We loved the bathroom, complete with double sinks, power shower, natural bath products from PlanTation, mist-free mirrors and a mini TV. They even include a clear plastic bag for your carry-on toiletries when you leave; and provide fresh flowers, fruit and a newspaper daily, as well as complimentary shoe shining. Plus, this is the first time I've been in a hotel that has a hidden safe (shhhhh look behind the painting).
One Aldwych is in a historic building constructed in 1907 for The Morning Post newspaper. It is located in the bustling Covent Garden, London’s sweet spot, with no end of theaters, boutiques, galleries and restaurants just a short walk away. From the minute we arrived we were warmly greeted at the front desk and received stellar service from everyone we encountered. When I called for room maintenance, I had barely hung up the phone before there was an engineer knocking on the door. He not only fixed the issue but also sweetly showed me how to connect to the complimentary Wi-Fi on both my phone and iPad.
The lobby bar is probably one of the most welcoming I’ve encountered on my travels, with super high ceilings, gargantuan windows, dramatic flower arrangements, bright colors and jazzy artwork. Their look is one that many other design hotels strive to get right, one that One Aldwich seems to achieve naturally. Whether you stop in for high tea, cocktail hour or a nightcap, the place is buzzing. Next time I think I’ll rent a kid to join me for their Scrumdiddlyumptious Afternoon Tea inspired by Charlie & The Chocolate Factory. Treats include an adorable selection of cotton candy, rainbow colored puds and lollipops.
Axis, inside the property, is truly a destination restaurant. Executive Chef Dominic Teague's is the poster child for modern British cooking. His impeccably presented food bursts with bright, clean flavors, allowing the finest local ingredients (including foraged foods and a tempting lineup of artisanal cheeses) to shine in their own right. Highlights include Roast Orkney Scallops with a sea purslane terrine and a simple but sublime Pot-Roasted Cotswold Chicken with the lightest herb jus.
Almost any dessert on the menu is a winner but if I had to pick one, the Chocolate and Caramel Tart with buttermilk ice cream has it all going on. After three winning wine pairings I say go with any of the sommelier’s recommendations. Loris was one of the most unpretentious sommeliers I’ve met and between him and our fabulous server, they added a huge dollop of joie de vivre to our meal. This fall Axis will be starting another season of Film & Fizz, which sounds fantastic. A glass of champagne plus a blockbuster film in the private screening room and a three-course Axis dinner equals the perfect date night!
Even if you don’t reserve a suite with a private gym you have many exercise options which made me very happy since I actually indulged in three desserts at Axis! Guests can start with a workout at the gym (better equipped than the one I belong to at home, plus it’s open 24/7) with a personal trainer, followed by a few laps in the blue-on-blue, chlorine-free swimming pool, accompanied by soothing underwater music. If you’re a runner, you’ll find a basket of clean towels next to the front door with a card outlining three jogging paths labeled City Route, Green Route or a 6.5 mile Endurance Route. Afterwards you can retire to the full-service spa for a steam, sauna or a variety of tempting treatments.
Final proof that One Aldwych is special is the fact that it was awarded the Luxury Eco Certification Standard in association with The Leading Hotels of the World. It is one of only six hotels to gain this independently assessed accreditation worldwide, and the first in the UK. After an absolutely perfect stay at One Aldwych (and I don’t say that lightly) where my every comfort was met and often surpassed, I wholeheartedly suggest you save yourself from tedious research and and book a room there.