Ever since it opened, in 1998, One Aldwych has divided opinion, perhaps because it has a more modern ethos than most of the storied grand hotels of London. In my view, its location is a significant plus. The hotel lies at the edge of both the City financial district and Covent Garden, with its dozens of theaters and restaurants. And it is also close to the northern end of Waterloo Bridge, which means you can stroll conveniently to the numerous South Bank arts venues. The building itself also appeals to me. A grand Edwardian structure, faced with Norwegian granite and topped by a green copper roof and a dome, it was constructed in 1910 for the Morning Post newspaper by the same firm of architects that designed The Ritz London.
One Aldwych reopened in June 2019 after an extensive and expensive refurbishment. A brief stay on my recent trip was my first opportunity to see what had changed. The soul of the property remains its dramatic lobby — originally the newspaper’s imposing reception area — with its soaring oak-framed arched windows, black-and-white-marble floor, buzzing cocktail bar, restaurant gallery and towering floral display. Each evening, the lobby becomes one of London’s foremost social arenas. It is now more colorful than before, with bright orange banquettes that divide the space into discrete areas suited to conversation. And Indigo restaurant, which looks down on the animated scene below, boasts a sumptuous new purple design scheme. (There, chef Dominic Teague presents a menu of excellent New British cuisine; Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Eneko Atxa, remained closed at the time of our visit.)
The hotel has four new suites, bringing the room count down to 101. The accommodations have been restyled by designer Robert Angell, who previously worked on the refurbishment of the Connaught and Berkeley hotels. The cream-and-pink décor of my Deluxe Room struck me as rather anemic, though its convenient work area and glamorous marble bath were both admirable. I recommend booking one of the more spacious Bridge View Studio Suites, which afford views of the Thames. (The hotel’s Dome Suite is one of the most unusual and striking in London.)