Inside the unique exterior of One Aldwych Hotel, London is a similarly unique guest experience. It doesn’t come from over-the-top extravagance, but the opposite. The luxury hotel is subtle in its elegance and treats every guest like a VIP.
In fact, newly appointed managing director Simon Hirst says that there are no VIPs at One Aldwych; it doesn’t matter which guest paid the most for their room: whoever called room service first will receive attention first.
If Hirst’s name associated with One Aldwych sounds familiar, there’s a reason. He was the general manager during it’s opening in 1997. He left to join Raffles Seychelles in 2011, followed by a stint at Raffles Singapore two years later, both in general manager positions. He rejoined One Aldwych again this July.
“It’s great to be back,” said Hirst in a recent meeting with Luxury Travel Advisor.
Much has stayed the same during his time away, including the guest treatment ideology and a fair number of staff, but a lot has changed, as well.
Hirst describes London as “buzzing” and says dozens of restaurants are opening every month. He says the city is in state of constant movement: “People have been there three, four, five times—it has to keep reinventing.”
One Aldwych is no exception. It recently launched a dairy- and gluten-free as well vegetarian tasting menu at Indigo, one of the property’s fine-dining restaurants. Executive chef Dominic Teague cut dairy and gluten from his menus to meet the rising demands from his guests.
Another trend One Aldwych is following is the use of virtual reality, or VR. For example, guests can enjoy authentic Scotch whiskey while exploring the Scottish Highlands in VR. Another drink special is the Showtime Collection, inspired by the neighboring West End theater district. There are 17 cocktails in total created by the lobby bar team, led by head bartender Pedro Paulo. Tip: Don’t miss the tropical Circle of Life cocktail inspired by The Lion King or the sophisticated Mediterranean Macbeth inspired by the Shakespearean play and served with a slice of Parmesan.
London isn’t alone in being in a state of change. England, and Europe as a whole, is adjusting to recent events like terror attacks and Brexit. Hirst says that international tourism brought over by the weaker pound is balancing out upper-middle class Brits who are being a little more conservative with their money.
One thing that has stayed the same at the hotel, however, according to Hirst, is the lack of stuffy wait staff and pretentiousness that can be found at some five-star hotel restaurants. He always says he wants the two restaurants, lobby bar and afternoon tea service to be a place that people can come back to a few times a year, not just for special occasions.
Even with a more subtle approach to luxury, there are still some pretty cool amenities available at One Aldwych. Topping the list is the 18-meter, chlorine-free indoor pool. It offers a space for total relaxation with underwater music and soft mood lighting. Guestrooms feature original artwork and many overlook famous London landmarks such as the Waterloo Bridge. Wi-Fi, fresh fruit and flowers, access to the health club and private guest lounge, and shoe shine service are all complementary.
When it comes to One Aldwych’s approach to hospitality, Hirst says it comes down to one thing: “It’s about taking care and looking after people.”
One Aldwych can be found at the end of The Strand opposite the Waterloo Bridge.