There’s something special about London on a Sunday night. Being in the city midweek for work has become the norm – its bustling streets, stressful commuters and jammed tubes are the traditions I wouldn’t be without (Ok maybe the latter). As hellish as they all sound, there’s something so alive about the capital that leaves me inspired and without any doubt that its a working day. So, wandering around the sun soaked deserted streets around the One Aldwych hotel on a Sunday was a completely different experience.
With just residents and the occasional tourist (definitely not as bad as a Saturday) I always feel at home in London on a Sunday, almost like a local. The cafe’s are full with people sipping their lattes and reading the papers, catching up with friends or grabbing a juice after yoga. Everyone’s just a little happier, calmer and even the cashiers have an extra bounce in their welcome schpeel.
Toff and I decided to take a much-needed mini break before the wedding to decompress, relax and not talk about the big day for 24 hours. I have so many favourite spots and postcodes in London but Covent Garden is definitely up there as a favourite. Sure, it’s crammed with theatre-goers and tourists alike but there’s a vibrant energy that comes with that which leaves me buzzing. I’ve wanted to stay in One Aldwych hotel for years so when they invited us to swap that dreaded Sunday back-to-school feeling for a little R&R I couldn’t have said ‘yes’ quick enough!
A stone’s throw from Covent Garden and The Strand, One Aldwych hotel has all the grandeur of a Grade II listed building with the warmth of a family home. Although it’s 111 years old it has all the contemporary sophistication you’d expect from a newly launched ‘it’ hotel. Designed by Charles Mewes and Arthur Davis, the Anglo-French partnership behind the Ritz hotels in London and Paris, the Flatiron-shaped building is one of the capital’s coolest hang-outs. Once home to Tatler, The Morning Post and The British Gazette of which Sir Winston Churchill was Editor, it became one of London’s most fashionable spots after a huge renovation in the late nineties.
With a larger-than-life sculpture dwarfing the vaulted lobby, it certainly offers the wow factor for first impressions. Its famous Aldwych bar is as grand and glamourous as you’d expect with retro drinks trolleys, wooden panelled walls and a cocktail menu worth sampling. Complete with descriptions and sketches, the tipples are as dramatic as the neighbouring shows including our personal favourite which is served in a mini glass atlas with gold leaf garnish to make it extra glam.
But perhaps the most impressive secret One Aldwych is keeping is Lounge At One, the guest-only area hidden by concealed doors and only accessible by, you guessed it, guests of the hotel. Featuring oversized sofas and a selection of books selected by celebrated British fashion designer Paul Smith, its as glossy and serene as you’d expect but lacking a little atmosphere for our date night, even if it was on a Sunday!
But it wasn’t just the bar that had us at hello. When the time for quiet escapism called, we couldn’t have found a more elegant hideaway than our executive bedroom. High above the daily commute, it’s the perfect space to snuggle down with a cup of tea and one of the in-room glossy mags. With Italian bed linen, feather and down duvets and an oversized bath, it was any wonder we were able to tear ourselves away for dinner at Indigo. But with the words “gluten and dairy-free menu” ringing in my ears I was too intrigued not to hot foot it down to the first floor to sample Executive Chef Dominic Teague’s inventive delights.
Overlooking the buzzing Lobby Bar, the comfy armchairs and crisp white tablecloths bridge the gap between fine dining and an informal eaterie. With an open mind and a rumbling stomach, I soon forgot the free-from promises as we tucked into Seared Orkney Scallops and Chocolate Mousse. Granted, the customary bread basket left a lot to be desired but what the meal lacked in spongey dough it more than made up for in taste. It wasn’t long before our shoulders dropped and it turned into one of those rare nights where you talk for hours over a really good bottle of wine and sink back into the chairs until you realise you’re the last ones in the restaurant. Maybe there’s something in this Sunday date night after all.
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