Everyone has a standard by which they judge the success of a weekend spent at a five-star hotel. For some, it is the array of leisure facilities available, for many it is the choice of breakfast on offer and for some, including the young and the young at heart, it is the bounce-ability of the beds. Although how high we could jump on the bed is pretty close to the top of our checklist, for us, it is always the potential for plenty of bubble bath time fun and how cuddly the bathrobes are: alongside a fantastic location and beautiful, family-friendly accommodation, of course.
Our five-star home for the evening, One Aldywch - originally built in 1907 as the home of the Morning Post newspaper - is conveniently located on Drury Lane, just off London’s Strand. The 150 room hotel is ideal for visiting top West End shows as it is located across the road from the Lion King and is in walking distance of fifteen major theatres, as well as top destinations including the London Eye and Trafalgar Square. So, it gets a large tick for a brilliant sightseeing or night out location. We stayed in a round-roomed suite, which gave us a view of bustling Drury Lane to one side and an uninterrupted view of Waterloo Bridge straight ahead. As it turns out, people watching from three floors up can be pretty addictive.
Our hotel room was well equipped, with lots of modern, helpful features including easy-to adjust air conditioning, card swipe room access, an iPod dock, mist free mirrors, a Nespresso machine, and, to everyone’s delight, a television that could be watched in the bathroom. Needless to say, having a big bubbly bath was top of our agenda and, happily, it passed all of our stringent tests.
Making the most of our hotel:
First things first, it was off to the spa and pool area. I chose an hour-long full body massage, to relieve my stresses and strains. The masseuse worked magic on the knots in my back and shoulders, without the often associated pain. I chose an aromatic oil, which she promised would cause intense relaxation. She wasn’t far wrong, I realised, after waking up on the table an hour later, feeling stress-free and totally relaxed, (having dozed fairly quickly off to sleep).
We made the most of the beautiful chlorine-free pool at One Aldwych, famed for playing music under its crystal clear water. Fun foam toys and swimming aids are supplied around the pool, although you will have to supervise children while they play. On a minor downside, there were only three loungers to sit on, so there were never enough for us all to sit on at once. Although, it wasn’t really a problem, as one of us was always in the steam room, sauna or pool. We met another family at the pool, who were enjoying splashing around just as much as us. They had enrolled their daughter in a week’s West End theatre course, in Covent Garden, and were spending the night at One Aldwych before watching her perform in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The hotel was, they told us, the ideal location for visiting the top theatres in London, while staying in the lap of luxury.
A must-see (and must-eat):
Currently showing the stage version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the Theatre Royal is just around the corner from One Aldwych – surely worth a visit while you are staying so close by, especially if you have any sweet-toothed children in the family. When the show opened in spring 2013, One Aldwych teamed up with the musical to create a scrumdiddlyumptious chocolate afternoon tea: the perfect companion to a chocolate-themed theatre weekend break.
Don’t miss… our review of the chocolate afternoon tea, at one Aldwych
What we ate:
Oh, food, glorious food - complimented, at One Aldwych, by the extensive selection of impressive cocktails shaken up by the award-winning barmen. Children will enjoy joining in with pre-dinner proceedings by choosing from the 'mocktail' menu including, Jungle Juice or Fizz Ripple. Our favourite (alcohol permitted) cocktail was the steaming Cocktail Charlie. Sitting in the lofty bar area, we were all mesmerised by the concoction process, with dry ice being pincer dropped into a glass bottle and the smoke proceeding to billow out to dramatic effect.
The main restaurant at the hotel, Axis, was shut during our stay. No matter, because this meant that we dined at the Indigo restaurant instead, situated on a mezzanine level overlooking the bar. Make sure you bring your appetite, as portions are on the large side and the food is so delicious that you won’t want to leave a morsel. We dined on seafood starters and, after well-given advice from our waiter, the sirloin steak for main, with a complementary red wine. The atmosphere was elegant but relaxed and lots of families had joined us in the restaurant for dinnertime. We somehow made room for pudding and managed to squeeze in a rather tasty, rather giant, crème brûlée, complete with lemon shortbread biscuits. We would recommend choosing this for pudding. We would not, however, recommend bouncing on the bed, afterwards.
- Complimentary refreshments include: Milk and cookies for children aged 2-5 years. Milkshake for children aged 6-12 years. Fruit cocktail for children aged 12 and above.
- Welcome gifts are given to children upon arrival, as well as bathrobes and slippers.
- Teddy Bear for babies and young children up to 5 years old.
- Suitable storybooks for children are available to borrow, including, Charlie and the Rocket Boy, Eliot Jones Midnight Superhero, Ally’s World as well as Loathsome London and The Blitzed Brits from the Horrible Histories series.
- Child-sized bathrobes and slippers on turn down, upon request.
- Kids can request a Wii console in their room.
- For an extra special evening in, you can arrange a kid’s party in the cinema screening room, complete with fresh popcorn!
- Room service offers vegetable, starch and fruit purees as well as warm milk for babies.
- Both restaurants have special children’s menus for all meals, including chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, and can supply high chairs and children’s cutlery.
- Babysitters are available upon request.
- A selection of family DVDs are available from the concierge for hire to the room.
- The 24hr concierge is available to advise families about special family events in the area, as well as booking theatre tickets.
The hotel does have six interconnecting rooms available, if you require, or are happy to place extra beds or cots in deluxe rooms or suites.
KIDS STAY FREE: Family Suite Promotion at One Aldwych: Rates start from £715 per night for a two bedroom suite, including VAT, and are valid now until 8th September 2013, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday in October, 15th-17th October, October half term - 25th October to 3rd November and 20th December 2013 to 5th January 2014. Two children up to 18 years old can stay in the second bedroom and a rollaway bed is available for a third child at an additional charge.
For more information, and to book a visit online, visit One Aldwych online or call +44 (0)20 7300 1000