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London’s First Eco Hotel
By Chere Di Boscio
With its diesel spewing taxis, polluted river and masses of cheap junk food, London is not likely at the top of anyone’s list as an eco-friendly travel destination. But a certain five star hotel, One Aldwych, is trying to change that.
Conveniently set in bustling Covent Garden in the city’s popular theatre district, the hotel has recently dedicated itself to sustainability, and has received the Luxury Eco Certification Standard (LECS) from Sustainable Travel International (STI) in association with The Leading Hotels of the World, for its efforts. The property is one of only six hotels to gain this independently assessed accreditation worldwide, and the first to do so in the United Kingdom. One Aldwych also gained a Green Business Award from the European Regional Development Fund for having the biggest total carbon savings in 2012, and received a gold grading from Green Tourism for London 2010.
So what has the hotel done to deserve all these kudos?
Like many hotels today, One Aldwych has a system where guests can request their linens not be washed every day, by leaving a card on the bed to instruct the chambermaid. While this is commendable, it would be more effective if the sheets were simply not changed by default, and the card had to be placed to have them washed: I didn’t see the card until day two of my stay there, which meant my whites were cleaned more than necessary. There’s also a no-bleach policy here, but they could go further and use only all natural detergents and cleaning products in the rooms; there is a plethora of great products on the market to choose from these days.
The hotel also claims to use LED lighting wherever possible, but I did notice a lot of halogen bulbs that could easily be replaced. Their wonderful bathroom amenities are from Plantation, a purely natural skin care range, which is so good, it should be sold in the lobby so guests can buy more to take home. But some of the hotel’s greenest features involve water: the 18 metre long pool is completely chlorine free, using minerals to purify the water instead, and the EVAC drainage system is used in the toilets–it’s a system that uses a kind of vacuum rather than water to get rid of waste. The shower heads are also water-saving, whilst maintaining excellent water pressure.
All restaurants at One Aldwych aim to use locally sourced food, organic where possible, and the difference is palpable: fresh eggs and an organic soya latte made for a consistently delicious breakfast, and at the British-themed Axis restaurant, I dined on a delightful poached asparagus with a battered egg and truffle oil, followed by steamed sea bream and olive oil mashed potatoes, finished off with a deconstructed Bakewell tart: a fresh menu indeed, in both concept and quality.
There’s more to the hotel than positive luxury; it is also positively luxurious. The tasteful, trendy interiors are kept impeccably clean, and rooms are so quiet, it’s hard to believe you’re downtown London. A friendlier and better trained staff would be hard to find, especially in the UK, and the bar downstairs is so buzzy and beautiful, it attracts an upscale crowd from beyond the premises for tea and tipples. Indeed, in terms of urban eco hotels, One Aldwych is as good as it gets.
For more information, please see: http://www.onealdwych.com