green holidays made easier
Central London, bordering Covent Garden and in the heart of Theatreland
Cutting edge hotel with a practical approach to sustainable tourism
When he opened One Aldwych in 1998 Gordon Campbell Gray, its driving force, intended it to feel modern and exciting.
Located between the City (financial district) and the West End the hotel is housed in a triangular Edwardian building originally home to the Morning Post newspaper and now protected by English Heritage.
Strong design and attention to detail are conspicuous. There are 105 guest rooms and suites, two with private gyms. While none is identical they all share first-class features: Thai silk curtain fabrics, crisp white Frette bed linen, bedside reading lights on adjustable fibre optic stalks (Campbell Gray is evidently a bedtime bookworm), swish bathrooms and wireless internet access, with original works of modern abstract art throughout.
There are two restaurants. Axis, with its own street entrance, is Modern European. Indigo, more relaxed, overlooks the Lobby Bar whose cocktails were said by New Yorker magazine to be better than any in the Big Apple. In addition the Cinnamon Bar serves light refreshments. At weekends an eye-catching package is offered: a three course dinner, a glass of champagne and a movie in the luxurious private screening room.
In the basement are an 18 metre swimming pool with underwater music, steam room, sauna, private treatment and therapy rooms, gymnasium and cardio-theatre.
One Aldwych balks at being described as a “boutique” or “designer” hotel for fear of being seen as just another passing trend, preferring instead such adjectives as “sleek”, “unstuffy” and “professional”. So has it succeeded? Absolutely.
The hotel is wary of overstating its eco-friendly credentials. “We are making big efforts,” says Public Relations Director Howard Rombough, “but we're not perfect.”
Its Green Team lays the plans with financial incentives to encourage each member of staff to put them into action. It recycles a growing range of materials: over a recent twelve month period, it says, 9265kg of paper and 78000 kg of glass, with 87474 kg less waste ending up in landfills.
All toilets are fitted with EVAC, a vacuum drainage system which uses 80% less water than conventional alternatives. Lights are controlled by timing switches and all have been converted to long-life and low-energy bulbs. Low-toxicity paint is used extensively, and water softener use reduces the need for harmful anti-scale chemicals. Bathroom toiletries are natural “REN” products whose containers are biodegradable. The restaurants aim to use local sustainable produce and some organic products.
The hotel supports Save the Children - managing director Gordon Campbell Gray is a vice-president of the charity. Furthermore at turndown on a guest's first night (when, incidentally, instead of leaving a “tacky” chocolate on the pillow they provide the next day’s weather forecast) a copy of “Change the World for a Fiver”, an inspiring charity book is placed in rooms. All part of the exceptional service.
Despite its modesty on the subject One Aldwych has featured for sustainable tourism in the Visit London Awards 2006.