Nestled at the far edge of Theatreland, just a few steps away from Somerset House, One Aldwych is something of a landmark London building, with its flatiron-inspired shape and huge double-height lobby and bar area (a throwback to its days as a newspaper office).
The hotel itself has perhaps lived in the shadows of more avant-garde rivals (like the Alice in Wonderland-esque Sanderson, and the decadent Zetter Townhouse), but on my visit I was there to discover some of its hidden gems.
On the face of it, One Aldwych is a classic 5 star business hotel. It's smart, classic, timeless and inoffensive, with well-appointed rooms, good facilities, and a killer location. Decor is tasteful but not too adventurous, with lots of whites, blues, greys, calming colours and - apparently - a 400 piece art collection. Staff are attentive and friendly, sofas are plentiful, wifi is free, and rooms are well soundproofed.
But hidden behind the contemporary facade are some amazing little secrets. The spa, for example, where a relaxing vitamin C facial left my skin glowing and my mood elevated. The indoor pool, has underwater music and barely any patrons. And the bar is a joy, where cocktails come in glass teapots steaming with dry ice, nuts and snacks are refilled continuously, and ladies who lunch pile up to try the incredible-looking afternoon tea.
Our trip included a chance to experience Film & Fizz. For just over £45 each you get to see a (recent) film in the hotel’s luxurious screening room, with a glass of champagne and popcorn, followed by dinner in one of the hotel’s two restaurants. Our Sunday afternoon screening was so quiet it felt very much like we’d stumbled upon our own private cinema. Watching films this way was far more peaceful than going to your local Vue, and the champagne was a nice touch (my only gripe was that once the film started, nobody was on hand to provide the top-ups I would have happily paid for).
Dinner following the film is from a selected menu, but we easily found something we fancied for each of the three courses. The terrine was good, the lamb and polenta was beautiful (though why is everyone so obsessed with polenta at the moment?) and the fruit meringue the perfect finish. The mezzanine restaurant is comfy and quiet and the sommelier was able to do the impossible, and find us a white wine that went with lamb. The deal doesn’t include wine, which can push prices up, so I’d advise splashing out on a cocktail before dinner rather than buying a bottle if you're on a budget. The Charlie is worth every penny for show if nothing else!
Film & Fizz is basically one of London’s best posh dates. Break the ice with a cocktail, watch a good film, then have something to talk about over dinner. Being in the hotel means you can then add on whatever you want, like the ultimate hot date pick and mix. Start off with a spa treatment, finish with late night drinks or even book a night in the hotel to keep that date going!
If you do end up staying over, it's worth bearing in mind the breakfast is one of the best I’ve ever had in a London hotel. Let's just say they don't scrimp on the smoked salmon!
Room rates at One Aldwych start at £264. Film and Fizz is £47.50 per person. Click here for future screenings. We were guests of One Aldwych, but we may have splashed out on a few extra cocktails!