FROM LONDON TO AFRICA: An escape to One Aldwych and an evening with The Lion King
One of the greatest pleasures of living in Kent is its proximity to London – the high-speed train makes the Capitol and all its wonder available to us in under an hour. Short breaks can actually be relaxing (no driving or flying!), and no matter how many times you visit, you’ll always find something new to experience. Last month, I was transported from London to the African savannah during a very special theatre break to One Aldwych, and an evening with The Lion King.
If you haven’t yet seen The Lion King at the West End’s Lyceum Theatre, well, why not? The iconic musical is one you need on your, “I’ve seen that” list – not just because of the hype, but because it actually is that good.
The magic begins as soon as the lights dim, with herds of African animals appearing from all directions, and familiar music filling your ears. “The Circle of Life” will get your feelings churning before the first 10 minutes is up, so you know you’re in for a true-to-form Disney emotional rollercoaster – in a good way, of course.
Julie Taymor, the talented director behind the production, has created a show that is a true feast for the senses. It’s a fascinating concoction of visual beauty and technical brilliance – the characters come alive using an ingenious mix of puppetry and acting. Giraffes lumber across the stage on stilts, a cheetah prowls around with its actor counterpart leaping and rearing, and Timon and Pumbaa are cleverly designed so both the puppet and actor can project feeling with a hefty dose of humour.
Even though the show is in its 18th year, being the West End’s best-selling stage production having entertained over 13 million theatregoers, each performance is as spectacular as the last. The actors’ passion shines through, and they all seem nothing less than thrilled to be a part of this historical show, which on top of the set, the costumes, the story and the songs makes for one unforgettable night.
An evening at the theatre wouldn’t be complete without a nearby hotel to call home for the night, and the ideal (in every sense of the word) place for both your overnight stay and pre-theatre dinner is the luxurious 5-star One Aldwych. Just across the street from the Lyceum Theatre, it’s the finest spot to rest your cocktail-infused head after your theatre experience.
I had the pleasure of dining at both Indigo at One Aldwych, the hotel’s informal but oh-so-classy eatery boasting innovative food from executive chef Dominic Teague; and also at Eneko at One Aldwych, the hotel’s intimate, romantic restaurant serving modern Basque dishes from renowned chef Eneko Atxa.
After a ‘Circle of Life’ cocktail or two at One Aldwych’s Lobby Bar, if you’re after a positively memorable break, I can’t recommend Eneko highly enough. From my traditional talo starter (crispy corn talo with heritage tomatoes and basil emulsion) to the gorgeous braised pork cheeks with ham duxelle and confit shallots, to the show-stopping rose marshmallow and strawberry sorbet for dessert, accompanied by a glass vase with a single rose, billowing over with dry ice fog and a rose-scented essential oil – the ambiance was an ideal match to my Lion King escape.
After a delicious meal and a delightful show, you have Covent Garden right on your doorstep. Stay out all night if you fancy, or do as I did… while away the hours back at One Aldwych’s glamorous bar, sipping on cocktail after glorious cocktail, grateful to have found the perfect getaway just an hour away from home.
SUMMER URBAN REORT AT ONE ALDWYCH
From 1st July to 30th Sep, guests at One Aldwych can enhance their stay with the hotel’s Summer Urban Resort – a programme of exciting free experiences, from private Covent Garden walks to virtual reality cocktail demonstrations. For more info visit www.onealdwych.com/urbanresort