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EXPERT REVIEW With its prime location, boutique style, friendly service and buzzy bar, this luxury London hotel is perfect for first-timers or frequent visitors

Eco


Overall eco rating


One Aldwych might have an enviable central London hotel location, but its green efforts are also hampered by strict planning laws. Nonetheless, it pushes the eco envelope for London while also maintaining one the city's most welcoming boutique hotels.

One Aldwych hotel has implemented a few significant capital projects such as the vacuum drainage system which has led to a massive reduction in water consumption and installation of LED and other efficient lighting technologies.

What is more, the hotel has a clear commitment to the environment.† They have taken significant steps to reduce the use of chemicals (e.g. through chlorine free pool, no bleach policies and careful choice of products) and they take the environment into account when purchasing goods and services (e.g. choice of electrical goods includes assessment of energy use).† The only hotels we know of in London that are greener are the new Hotel Mint Tower of London (soon to be renamed Hilton) and the recently renovated (at a cost of $0.25bn) Savoy.

While there is still significant progress to be made in many areas, the progress to date and management of the hotel provides confidence that One Aldwych will continue to improve their environmental performance.

  • Strong environmental management system
  • Significant water and energy efficiency projects

  • Old building and urban location is a constraint

People

One Aldwych is in a developed country with strict legislation covering employment law, so people issues are perhaps less of a concern. Nonetheless, the hotel does put effort into their corporate social responsibility.

  • London is an expensive place to live and One Aldwych recognises this by paying all staff above the recommended Living Wage for London (which itself is ~40% above national minimum wage)
  • The hotel gives generously to a number of local homeless and arts charities
  • One Aldwych sells used furniture and electrical goods to staff, with proceeds going to charity
  • Tries to inspire guests in a number of ways including providing ĎChange the World for a Fiverí Ė contains 50 actions to change the world for the better and make you feel good

  • Location in the busy heart of central London has the downside that when you step outside you face high levels of noise and pollution

Animals & nature

One Aldwych does not have an abundance of local wildlife, but the hotel takes animal welfare seriously. If you look carefully from the outsidek you might glimpse the rooftop garden, created to provide a habitat for wildlife (although guests do not have access). The garden features plant pots made from containers repurposed from various hotel supplies; rainwater is collected to water plants; and hotel waste is composted to provide plants with nutrients. Insect refuges and bird boxes are also being created from various discarded items.

PETA assessment of cruelty free credentials of cleaning products and toiletries to come.

  • Fish, meat and poultry is sourced from reputable suppliers with animal welfare and the environment in mind.

  • Limited vegan options

Environment & buildings

One Aldwych has implemented a few significant capital projects, such as the vacuum drainage system, which has led to a massive reduction in water consumption and installation of LED and other efficient lighting technologies.

What's more, the hotel has a clear commitment to the environment. They have taken significant steps to reduce the use of chemicals (e.g. through chlorine free pool, no bleach policies and careful choice of products) and they take the environment into account when purchasing goods and services (e.g. choice of electrical goods includes assessment of energy use).

While there is still significant progress to be made in many areas, the progress to date and management of the hotel provides confidence that One Aldwych will continue to improve its environmental performance.

  • Reducing water consumption by 2million litres through use of a vacuum-enhanced drainage system
  • Comprehensive lighting redesign to include LEDs and other energy saving features Ė external lighting now largely LED
  • Waste minimisation through careful purchasing, composting and recycling, including cooking oil and batteries
  • Chlorine-free pool and a no-bleach cleaning policy

  • The hotel is in old building, which is listed, so difficult to change, but unfortunately energy intensive
  • No significant use of renewable energy

Reviewed by

Tim Starley-Grainger


Luxury


Overall luxury rating*


A soothing haven right in the heart of the city, with pleasant surprises from the moment you step through the door, boutique hotel One Aldywch is the central London bolt-hole for sophisticates.

The scene

Located at the point where London's theatre district meets the business district, One Aldwych is always buzzy, especially early evening. Guests pass through the bar, with its soaring double-height ceiling, modern sculptures and mix of suits and creatives sharing cocktails or coffee, to reach the small reception. Theatre luvvies love that Drury Lane - London's Broadway - is right behind the hotel, while business-trippers can be in the heart of the City (London's financial district) in five minutes. Tourist sights within a 10-minute walk include Trafalgar Square, The National Gallery, The National Portrait Gallery and Covent Garden market, with Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and St James Park all just another five minutes further.

  • Bang in the city centre between Covent Garden and the Square Mile, perfect for sightseeing and business trips
  • On the edge of the theatre district, where all the big shows are, so you wonít need a cab after your musical
  • Royal Opera House, with its world-renowned operas and ballets, is two minutesí walk.
  • The shops, bars and restaurants of Covent Garden and Seven Dials, five minutes away, invite you to throw down some cash.
  • Trafalgar Square is just down the road, backed by the National Gallery
  • Big Ben and Buckingham Palace are just a few minutes past Trafalgar Square. Youíre going to save loads on transportation if you stay here.
  • Despite what they claim, few London hotel bars are favoured by locals, but One Aldwych genuinely is an exception, thanks to its in-the-know feel and fantastic cocktails. Post-work drinks here are frequent occurrences for local office workers.
  • Ask the staff to point out the hidden entrance to Somerset House, across the street, for the most atmospheric winter ice-skating, and intimate concerts and films in summer.
  • The Thames is two minutesí walk, and on the other side over the bridge is the South Bank, popular with locals for its riverside promenade, high-quality theatre and concert hall, and excellent art galleries

  • Itís on the Strand, which gets traffic-jammed around rush hour, so forget taking a taxi here during those time as youíll be better off walking from Temple or Charing Cross tube stations, both five minutes away.

The style

A curvaceous wedge-shaped building, this Edwardian masterpiece was built in white stone by the same architects who designed The Ritz hotels in London and Paris. Discreet on the outside, step inside this seven-floor hotel and youíre greeted by an airy lounge-bar, presided over by the Boatman with Oars, a vast bronze sculpture. The Boatman is one of 400 modern artworks scattered throughout the hotel and the 105 guestrooms. The dťcor feels business-hotel five-star, with touches of Art Deco in the furnishings, and sumptuous fabrics adding an air of understated elegance.

  • Unique modern artworks throughout the hotel and guestrooms
  • Historic Edwardian building, listed with English Heritage as being of architectural significance
  • Spacious, airy bar with great cocktails and a trendy crowd of professionals and creatives
  • Clean, white business-style rooms with hints of Art Deco, muted colours and Frette bedlinens
  • Huge bouquets of fresh flowers change daily

  • Guestrooms could do with a touch more wow factor

The facilities

Beneath the hotel is a secret Ė a rare London swimming pool, big enough for proper laps, chlorine-free and with music piped in. Itís part of a sweet little spa and gym, free for hotel guests. The lounge-bar here buzzes all day, in the morning for coffee meetings, afternoon for full English teas and early evening for pre-dinner cocktails. Itís quieter late at night, but the barís still open, so you can flop on one of the sofas for an intimate nightcap. Meals here are good, whether in the downstairs gourmet British restaurant or the more casual mezzanine restaurant that overlooks the lobby bar. A screening room is hidden beneath the hotel, too, with movies shown most weekends, although to see them, youíll need to book in for a meal at the restaurant.

  • Lovely chlorine-free 18-metre pool, hidden beneath the hotel, with music piped under the water and mood lighting
  • Spa with sauna, steam room, decent-sized well-equipped fitness centre, and three treatment rooms with massages, facials, menís and express treatments using uber-luxe Natura Bissť products.
  • Lounge bar buzzing with locals and business people all day into the early evening
  • Two excellent restaurants Ė one serving gourmet British fare and the other modern European dishes
  • An exclusive screening room that shows films most weekends for guests who book into one of the restaurants on a special meal-and-a-movie package

  • Itís a shame hotel guests canít use the screening room without paying, but we have heard rumours that if itís not booked, staff might let you sneak in to view a DVD of your choice

We love

  • The lounge-bar, a rare London hotel bar that attracts locals
  • The secret swimming pool
  • The art works, especially the fun papier machť Beano dog by reception and the enormous Boatman with Oars
  • The staff strike the perfect balance of friendly and professional, and everything gets done with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of efficiency Ė always with a jolly smile

You might not love

  • This isnít really a hotel for small children. They will cater to them, but itís a trendy, businessy place.

Reviewed by

Jill Starley-Grainger


One Aldwych, London

One Aldwych, London WC2B 4BZ

UK
+44 (0)20 7300 1000

Standard room rates from £265

Eco

Luxury*

"You only have to push through the front door and enter the breathtaking Lobby Bar to know that you're in for a treat. Despite the building's weighty history - the 1907 building was once the offices of the Morning Post - One Aldwych is a thoroughly modern place, with Frette linen, bathroom mini-TVs and an environmentally friendly loo-flushing system" TimeOut London