Once upon a time, dating was what you did before you got married and once you were married, well you were married, weren’t you? It wasn’t that married couples no longer went out, just that it wasn’t referred to as dating, just married life, I guess. But over the last couple of decades, the term ‘Date Night’ has done an about-turn and these days I most commonly see it used to describe a dedicated night to themselves for married or long-term couples.
For Pete and I, with no kids underfoot, you could say that most of our meals out, and all our weekends away and longer holidays are dedicated time to ourselves, and it’s true that many of them are; sometimes we grab our Kindles and read, companionably, over our meal whereas other times we leave them behind and natter away, making plans for the allotment or a future holiday, talking about the news or some interesting local development, sharing synopses of good books we’ve recently read or giggling over whatever is the latest thing to tickle our funny bones…
I imagine that for couples with young children, setting aside dedicated child-free time to be a couple must be essential to maintain their relationship as lovers and friends, as distinct from their mutual roles as their children’s parents; whether it’s weekly, monthly or only every now and then.
Whatever your situation, if you’re looking for an indulgent Date Night idea, I have a terrific suggestion for you – Film, Fizz and Dinner in a luxury hotel followed, if you like, by an overnight stay.
Film & Fizz
Luxury London hotel One Aldwych host Film & Fizz nights in their dedicated 30-seater cinema – you are greeted and seated with a glass of chilled champagne and a box of sweet or salty popcorn to enjoy during the film, after which you head to the hotel’s Indigo restaurant for a delicious three course meal. Or night owls can opt for a later screening; fizz and film without dinner afterwards – perfect if you want to dine in one of the many excellent restaurants in the vicinity.
second image courtesy on One Aldwych
On our One Aldwych Date Night, Pete and I enjoy Trumbo – an engaging film about how the American fear of Communism lead to the Hollywood Blacklist, as told through the story of top screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. The cinema is adorable – wide and comfortable blue leather seats with plenty of legroom (enough for Pete’s lanky legs) and good image and sound quality too.
After the film, we and other guests head to Indigo restaurant for dinner.
This is very much a trip down memory lane for me. When we first moved to London, our salaries (and therefore our budget for eating out at restaurants) were much lower and my approach to eating out at decent restaurants was to take advantage of their pre-theatre dinner menus; these allowed my friends and I to enjoy two or three courses for significantly less than an a la carte meal would cost, albeit we had a restricted selection of dishes to choose from. Indigo (and the hotel’s other restaurant, Axis) were both firm favourites on my pre-theatre dinner circuit and I have happy memories of many excellent meals here.
Today, Indigo’s kitchen is headed up by Chef Dominic Teague. Over the last year, Teague has quietly developed lunch and dinner menus that are entirely gluten and dairy free, though those without allergies certainly won’t feel they are missing out; if it weren’t mentioned on the menu, I doubt most diners would even notice.
Top quality ingredients, conscientiously sourced, are allowed to shine in light, delicious dishes.
First, gluten-free bread – samphire, rosemary and roasted onion mini loaves with rapeseed oil for dipping; perfectly decent.
Pete orders red wine, a young Bordeaux that could do with another year or two to mellow – there’s not much choice in the lowest price bracket; mark ups seem on the high side. My One D.O.M. cocktail of Benedictine, Finlandia Vodka, honey, kaffir lime leaves and egg whites is delicious, but similarly pricey at £14.
Pete’s Wild garlic soup with poached egg and croutons is superb, with a clear wild garlic flavour that is perfectly balanced; rich yet not overwhelming. The egg is beautifully cooked and a gentle cut of the spoon spills it into the soup to add its yolky creaminess. Croutons and wild garlic flowers garnish with texture and fresh flavour.
My Organic Rhug Estate pork, granny smiths, truffle mayonnaise looks a bit of a mess and when it arrives I mistakenly think it’ll be a bit meh. Actually, it’s gorgeous, with thin slices of soft, meaty pork accentuated perfectly by crisp sweet-tart apple, a pea shoot salad and a beautifully truffled mayonnaise, with extra truffle grated over the top. The truffle with the pork is a winning combination!
Pete’s Brixham plaice, confit pepper, olive, fennel is perfectly cooked, just just just enough – creating a softness and silkiness that’s very appealing. This is a light dish that speaks of the summer to come.
My Braised new season lamb with spring vegetables, wet polenta is more solid, a dish that speaks of the winter just gone. The lamb is superbly cooked and with excellent flavour, as is the gravy. Vegetables are so so, the beans are a little woolly but the peas, carrots and greens are good. But the slop of wet polenta does absolutely nothing for me, lacking in flavour and with all the texture of wallpaper paste.
Pete is delighted with his Lemon posset, poached Yorkshire rhubarb which comes with a quenelle of pastel pink rhubarb sorbet and a crumble garnish as well as the poached fruit. The posset hasn’t set, so it’s more of a cream but the flavour is excellent, and the dessert is, once again, very nicely balanced.
My Alphonso mango sorbet, passion fruit jelly comes with both mango sorbet and fresh mango, perfectly ripe and flavour-packed Alphonso, the king of all mangoes. The passion fruit jelly suffers in comparison, with very little flavour other than a not-too-pleasant acidity. Luckily, it’s easily left at the bottom of the pretty glass bowl and the mango sorbet and fruit more than make up for it.
It’s an enjoyably meal with only a few minor niggles and I think it would be a particularly nice place to visit with friends on gluten-free or dairy-free diets, allowing them the luxury of choosing anything on the menu rather than being forced to pick the one dish they can eat.
Our set menu dinner is rolled in with the price of Fizz & Film, at £55 per person for a glass of champagne, the film and a three course meal. (Drinks are, of course, extra).
Ordering from the a la carte menu, a three course meal in Indigo ranges from £35 to £53, based on the menu at the time of our visit.
The film was a long one so we’re dining later than usual (though there are post-theatre diners that come in much later than us). The staff kindly serve our tea and coffee to the room, a nice touch that speaks to thoughtful service.
Speaking of our room, it’s an absolute delight. We are in one of the hotel’s spacious Deluxe Doubles. The beautifully elegant room features a king size bed, two comfortable armchairs and coffee table, a desk and chair and a TV (with safe hidden in the stand). The bathroom is gorgeous, all dark red tile and white suite with a deep tub by the window and a walk in shower. Both the bedroom and bathroom look out over the heart of tourist London but good quality glazing means no street noise to worry about.
Indeed, the only thing that disturbs the peace is a poorly-designed low-water flushing system that makes the most awful racket after you flush, and the screeching noise lasts for ages too. I’m happy to see hotels take eco-friendly measures seriously but these need to meet the standards of the rest of the fittings and furniture, and right now the loo lets the bathroom down!
There are lots of lovely touches that other hotels could learn from – an international plug adaptor in one of the drawers, a card detailing the next day’s weather forecast left in the room during turndown service, a hairdryer that isn’t attached to the wall as though I’m going to steal it if it isn’t, and a decent amount of space for opening cases and storing clothes.
One thing we miss though is the provision of tea and coffee making facilities; unusual not to have them in a hotel of this calibre.
A nice touch when it comes to breakfast is that you can enjoy it delivered to your room for no extra charge, or dine in the restaurant if you prefer.
The downside is that it’s awfully pricey at £29 per person and the Full English Breakfast isn’t very full!
The plate above is Pete’s cooked breakfast; he asks for the Full English as it comes, stipulating streaky bacon over back and eggs to be fried; this minimalist plate is what he is served – two eggs, some bacon, a small piece of black pudding, half a grilled tomato and half a small flat grilled mushroom! Oddly, no sausages, though they are listed on the menu and my breakfast (for which I name items I want individually) includes them! The basket of pastries and toast is meagre with three different pastries and a few slices of toast between two, though if you order room service, you’ll be given your choice of four per person, selected from a list. We ask for more pastries, and staff do oblige. Breakfast also includes fruit juice, tea and coffee.
There are national newspapers available at the entrance, always appreciated, particularly on a weekend.
Date Night Score
For Film, Fizz and Dinner, we give One Aldwych a solid 9 out of 10. It feels like a real occasion; the little cinema offers a decent selection of films – a different one each weekend; Dominic Teague’s cooking is very enjoyable, and the dining room is comfortable and welcoming too.
For Bed, it’s an 8 out of 10. We loved the generous size of our room, the elegant colour scheme and furnishings, the comfortable bed and the luxurious bathroom. Only the noisy plumbing and lack of tea and coffee making facilities let it down. Note that this is a luxury hotel; plugging a few different dates into the online reservation system returns Room Only prices starting from £350 for standard doubles and twins, a good bit more for the Deluxe room we enjoyed. That said, the location truly is in the heart of tourist London, less than a minute’s walk from Covent Garden, Waterloo Bridge, The London Eye and many more of London’s best attractions.
Breakfast is the only element that gets a thumbs down, 2 out of 10. For the hefty price of a three course dinner, it’s not remotely good enough and I’d recommend booking Room Only instead. Use the £58 you save to cover both breakfast and lunch in the many local cafes and restaurants nearby instead.
Exterior hotel image courtesy of One Aldwych
Kavey Eats was invited to review One Aldwych on a complimentary basis, including the fizz and film dinner experience plus bed and breakfast. We were under no obligation to write a positive review, and all opinions are our own.
Your Date Night Ideas
Do you and your partner do Date Nights? If so, what are your top suggestions for a romantic or fun experience to enjoy together?
Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!22 Comments to "Date Night & Staycation All-In-One at One Aldwych, Covent Garden"
Wow I really want to visit! Cinema, good food and cocktails – I’m sold! Great review and I’ll definitely listen to the tip about the breakfast. £60 will buy a much better breakfast near by. Love it.
Hi Sisley, it’s such a lovely evening, feels so indulgent and is a perfect special occasion date night. Yes, £60 goes a long way when it comes to breakfast and lunch, even in central London!
The film & fizz seems like pretty good value!
Yes! I mean one could do the “posh” seats in a regular cinema and sneak in fizz, but this is a far more elegant experience! 🙂
I’m with you on the whole ‘date night’ and married life thing, although I’m not really qualified to comment as we rarely go out, preferring to stay in and eat what I cook! However, if I lived nearer civilisation, then a cinema and meal night sounds like a great way to spend some time together.
Staying in and eating and cooking sounds good too though!
It’s a shame when hotel breakfasts are a let down, either on value or quality, says it’s always the best option just to pop downstairs and enjoy it… I guess hotels need to wake up a little! The date night sounded like fun otherwise though. You know I’ve not been to the actual cinema for yonks, downloading films and cooking has become more normal… Must change that as the thought of heading out to see a film every now and again appeals!
Yes, we don’t often go out to the cinema anymore. Our local one is so expensive for what it is – the less customers they get the more they seem to put the prices up, to try and make the same income but all it means is that less and less people go. These days we visit only when there’s the rare film we just don’t want to wait to see. One Aldwych’ cinema was so cute and very comfy and it all felt like much more of a treat occasion. Dinner was super too, just the breakfast that needs (a lot) of work!
Indeed £29 for breakfast is steep considering it doesnt look particularly special but the room and the dinner look fantastic. I guess maybe with so many valid offers around the hotels one can simply nip out and have a proper breakfast elsewhere. Nice to have a date night!
Yes, totally right, room and dinner were excellent, and the fizz and film was lovely too. Really like that whole idea, and it’s only the breakfast I can’t recommend here.
I think that date nights are so important when you are married. It’s not just going out for dinner, it’s making an effort to make time for each other.
It looks like you had a fab date night.
Thanks Dannii, great to know you agree about the importance of making time for each other rather than it just being that you see each other anyway!
Oh my gosh, that wild garlic soup looks amazing. I can only imagine how good that is with the egg broken into it!
The meal, hotel and cinema all look absolutely lovely! Very jealous of your delicious looking cocktail! It was a very minimal looking English breakfast though lol – if you can see the plate, something’s gone wrong 🙂
Yes, meal, hotel and cinema experience were all really really excellent. That cocktail was enormous and delicious! Loved it! And too right about the breakfast plate!
Wow what a lush indulgent thing to do – love it! Date nights for us are usually dinner out, a trip to the cinema or my personal fave is a stroll down to the seafront where we’ll grab some fish and chips and chat and chat and eat while getting lots of lovely sea air!
Yay, I love that you still have the cinema as one of your preferred date nights. And the walk down to the seafront sounds really lovely!
Film, Fizz and Dinner – what a great concept! It sounds very well thought through too, not just a catchy name. Now that my daughter is going into 3rd year at uni (and right now – only back five days – she’s travelling for a month) we are more like you and Pete. But, as Andrew has to work late a lot we still need to schedule in date nights or date days (walking the beach and doing some seashore foraging; paddle boarding). I must think about upping my date night game now!
It’s a really well thought out concept, yes! And hey, our date nights aren’t usually at this level either! Hope you’re making the most of extra you time and not moping too much for your little flown bird! X
However a couple manages to do “us time”, I can’t say how essential it is. Me and “Him indoors” are similarly without children, but even then, it is easy to get buried in work, routine and our own hobbies. Couples time together is vital for long term couples. I love this idea of an overnight special break for a couple. As ever, a full, detailed review which captures the essence of the experience.
Yes I agree, even for those of us without kids, it can be easy to overlook the importance of time together!