It’s chic, it’s fun and full of pizzazz. One Aldwych is a fabulous five-star with a zesty personality to match it’s stylish furnishings, flawless pool and spa facilities and quirky collection of eateries. Traditional in it’s Edwardian architecture, the higgledy-piggledy hotel is however home to a brand new foodie destination of the future which serves up Basque cuisine that’s beyond even our words.
Located on the corner of Aldwych and Bloomsbury, One Aldwych is so central that perhaps it’s best not to drive in fear of being caught in the one-way system indefinitely. Fast forward and arrive in the delightfully large and vast lobby of the hotel, encased in old-style wood panelling where well-heeled guests sip martini’s in the lobby bar. The higgledy-piggledy hotel is full of character and personality with breakfast served overlooking the busy lobby and the highly anticipated arrival of Basque restaurant Eneko located just 100 yards from the front doors.
The rooms are large by London standards and décor is neutral and calming. Luxurious velvet armchairs sit comfortably in the corner of each bedroom and there are thoughtful touches such as luggage flight restrictions and liquid bags provided for those with an onward journey. The hotel houses an incredible art collection of over 300 pieces which decorate the white wash walls of the bedrooms and hallways – giving the otherwise neutral hotel a well needed splash of colour.
Located on the lower ground floor is the Health Club, complete with 18 metre, state-of-the-art swimming pool, 24 hour gym and sumptuous spa offering an array of OSKIA and Natura Bissé treatments. One Aldwych has a wealth of wonderful facilities – of which the star of the show is the underground swimming pool complete with underwater music and mood lighting. Similarly the 1,600 square-foot gym is equally impressive with it’s selection of Technogym equipment and weights – not to mention a precious pair of pink boxing gloves we tried out that went straight on our Christmas list!
We were treated to a rejuvenating wellbeing massage (£90 – 60 minutes) which uses traditional swedish techniques to relieve tension in your back. Our lovely therapist offered up a choice of five aromatherapy oils for us to decide upon and worked her magic on our tense shoulders – leaving us feeling thoroughly rested and noticeably looser and more comfortable in our back and shoulders. The One Aldwych Health Club is undoubtedly one of the best in London and offers an incredible array of treatments.
A fond farewell was bid to Axis after 19 years in this spot and we wave hello to Basque culinary star Eneko Atxa into the new space. The old-style dining room has transformed and most notably the contemporary space now features a ginormous staircase from street-level to restaurant-level. Guests can expect a ”simple, happy menu” according to the chef himself as he continues his culinary skills with a classic, Basque menu and Basque delicacies.
Starters are displayed in categories titled ”from the land”, ”from the sea” and ”from the garden” with highlights including Memories of the Bay of Biscay and Txerri Boda Pork Festival. Memories of the Bay of Biscay is a trio of shells – juicy oyster, a generously-packed crab and porcelain sea urchin filled with prawn tartare topped with caviar. Swirls of dry ice flow from the dish upon arrival and every bite is equally as stunning in taste and texture as the last. Guests can expect a distinctly fishy, ocean-worthy flavour from all three parts of the dish but by god it’s good.
The Basque-style Hake main is a mouth-watering dish served with confit vegetables, red pepper sauce and parsley emulsion. The tempura was perfectly crispy and red pepper sauce was a delicious complimentary flavour to the hake. The roasted Iberico pork presa – served on the rare side, was equally stunning in flavour served with a chickpea sauce and garlic cream. For the vegetarians amongst you, a highlight is the Arroz de Setas (bomb rice, oyster mushroom and ceps emulsion). The best mash potato in town – no comparison!
Desserts are served from a traditional trolley and we pick the Raspberry macaron with basil ganache and Errezil Apple mousse with white chocolate. Both are opulently foreign flavours but truly delicious and we devour every crumb. The food is stunningly good and the prices are even better with mains priced at an average of £15 – so if it’s good, old-fashion Michelin star cuisine you fancy at a sensible price then Eneko is the one for you.
The next morning we eat breakfast overlooking the bustling lobby below. A lovely concept, with guests seated on the mezzanine floor for an à la carte-only breakfast. We must admit our disappointment at the lack of a buffet because – well, who doesn’t love a good British breakfast buffet? Yogurts, fruit, cereals, hams and cheeses – all of which were lacking at One Aldwych. Well unless you ordered them from the à la carte menu anyway. Service was on the slow side and when we eventually ordered, it was the eggs benedict and scrambled eggs and smoked salmon that made the cut. Both were lovely but we sorely missed the buffet!
London, WC2B 4BZ
Call 0207 300 1000 for reservations