Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

How the West (End) was one: One Aldwych is the hip London haven that has charm in spades

One Aldwych, in Covent Garden
One Aldwych, in Covent Garden
SPLASH: One Aldwych, in Covent Garden, boasts an 18-metre pool
SPLASH: One Aldwych, in Covent Garden, boasts an 18-metre pool

I’d never envisaged swimming under the clouds in Covent Garden. Nor had I ever believed I’d share a pool with a killer whale. As for listening to music while diving under water, I thought that was nigh on impossible.

Yet in my London haven at the One Aldwych hotel in the bustling West End, I was able to enjoy such an experience in the chlorine-free waters of their 18 metre pool.

If I so desired afterwards, I could retire to the private residents’ lounge, through a secret door at the front of the hotel and relax in a room adorned with stunning contemporary art and literature selected by the world-|famous London designer Paul Smith.

Fine, immaculate touches and attention to detail really makes this ultra modern and sophisticated five star accommodation stand out in an overcrowded hotel market.

IMMACULATE

Too often in London a hotel is simply used as a base to explore the many attractions on offer and is not given any credence.

Yet staying at One Aldwych in Covent Garden for the weekend, the hotel implores you to become immersed in the fabric of the place. There really is no need to drift too far.

The hotel has its own cinema and regularly hosts ‘Film and Fizz’ evenings where guests can enjoy a glass of champagne and a three course meal followed by a top film.

But just because this hotel offers immacu

late service and a table at their cocktail bar in the lobby which is much sought after in London, do not believe for one minute it is at all ostentatious.

Far from it. While there is an air of charm, luxury and class, this only allows the guests to feel spoilt and totally at ease.

One Aldwych, which opened its doors in July 1998, is not part of a chain and therefore owners and |directors are given the freedom to add their own creative taste — combining contemporary interiors with classicism. Having renovated an old Edwardian former newspaper office, One Aldwych, situated in the middle of Covent Garden between the City and West End, can boast 105 guestrooms, with two suites having private gyms.

Fluorescent lighting in the lifts gives a modern twist while the rooms are all extremely comfortable, full of luxury items including PlanTation bath products.

The queen-sized beds and blackout blinds are sleep inducing. You know an establishment is at the top of their game, when they provide a television in the bathroom. A

stand-alone power shower is also provided.

For in-room entertainment, there is a huge flatscreen TV loaded with all the channels and every film you could possibly want to watch. If music is more your taste, then the hotel provides an iPod dock or you can purchase albums from your TV while relaxing in the armchairs.

Breakfast each morning takes place in Indigo — one of two restaurants in the hotel.

Indigo, on the first floor, overlooks the lobby bar, and all breakfasts are cooked to order from a wide and varied menu. The smoothie of the day never failed to disappoint along with porridge and the eggs Benedict. It’s a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day and there is |certainly no need for lunch.

Due to its Covent Garden |location, you could easily spend an afternoon and early evening in the tourist trap that is the |piazza. The magnificent Somerset House — which of course hosts an ice rink in winter — is just across the road from the hotel, but for a pleasant walk, head across Waterloo Bridge and then turn east when you reach the Southbank.

LOUNGE

Follow the loop past markets and museums and then, on your return, St Paul's Cathedral and Fleet Street. For shopping there is no need to head for Oxford Street — instead a five minute walk from the hotel brings you to the Seven Dials area.

It's also here where you will find St Martin's Lane, which is home to Suda Thai, Jamie’s Italian and Bill’s, the place for a sumptuous brunch.

But why eat out when every-one else is attempting to reserve a table at Axis, One Aldwych's restaurant two floors below |reception. Axis is an intimate restaurant with sultry tones. Expect the finest modern British food accompanied by exemplary but not over intrusive service.

The lamb, cooked rare, is one of their specialities, while for dessert the crème brulee comes as a huge and delicious portion.

After dinner you could retire to the private members lounge to relax on the comfortable sofas or head back out to the Lobby Bar to mix with the likes of former Tottenham Hotspur striker Jermaine Defoe, who was in the same evening as me.

The following night, take in a show, whether it's at the Royal Opera House, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre or, like me, relive your childhood by going to see Charlie and the Chocolate Factory at the Drury Lane theatre.

It is a magical production under the direction of Kate's Winslet's ex, Sam Mendes. It really is a show for all ages with wonderful choreography, enjoyable songs and marvellous acting from the youngsters. If Charlie and the Chocolate Factory isn't your preference then there are 14 other theatres within walking distance of the hotel.

One Aldwych has also teamed up with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to serve a musical inspired Afternoon Tea.

It's hugely popular, especially on weekends but my only problem was that after such a filling breakfast, I couldn't partake.

Instead, I decided I would head to the hotel's gym and |endure a work-out — which ended up being a pleasure due to the extensive and excellent equipment on offer.

Then it was down the spiral staircase to the pool to be chased by the killer whale on the big screen.

Despite these innovations, |the hotel refuses to count |itself as trendy.

FACTFILE

Rates at One Aldwych from £264 per room per night, inclusive of VAT.

- Check out the hotel’s special art and theatre packages this summer by logging on to www.onealdwych.com/offers

These offers are:

a) Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs (Tate Modern

tickets and accommodation) and

b) Royal Shakespeare Company at The Aldwych Theatre Wolf of Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies (theatre tickets and accommodation). The Lobby Bar has created special Matisse lavender kir royale cocktail and Wolf Hall mead cocktail to celebrate.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory inspired afternoon tea is £34.50 per person. The hotel is also running an afternoon tea and musical package.

For more special offers, packages and rates, visit www.onealdwych.com.

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