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Best Of British

20.01.22

Closed to the public for decades, the iconic Old War Office building has enjoyed a luxurious transformation, marking the first-ever Raffles branded residences. Julia Millen takes an exclusive tour

London’s former Old War Office building, Winston Churchill’s headquarters during World War II, has been closed to the public for more than a century — until now. Having undergone a monumental and painstaking transformation over the last five years, the London landmark set to complete in late 2022, will also comprise the capital’s first Raffles hotel with 120-rooms and suites, a collection of nine restaurants and bars, and an immersive spa.

Situated at one of London’s most historically important and powerful addresses, the building, originally completed in 1906 and designed by British architect William Young, is steeped in history. Formerly the site of the original Palace of Whitehall, home to Henry VIII and other monarchs, the residence has witnessed world-shaping events whilst influential political and military leaders including Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George held office there. It was John Profumo’s base when he was Secretary of State and inspired Ian Fleming to write the infamous James Bond series after working for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Service. Its grand architecture has made the building a dramatic location more recently with The Crown drama series.

Grand in both size and stature, with ceiling heights in residences that reach up to 4.4m and full-length windows to match, the interior proportions reflect classic Edwardian architecture that has been adapted for modern living. The residences feature interiors created by design studio 1508 London with bespoke handcrafted kitchens from British brand Smallbone of Devizes, Waterworks brass ironmongery and Onyx marble.

Many incorporate original heritage features such as oak panelling and mosaic flooring. The unwavering attention to detail in each residence demonstrates the years of craftmanship that have been applied to every aspect of the majestic building. Each residence is unique and specifically tailored to suit its location in the building duplex, lateral and penthouse residences range in size from studios to five-beds. In addition, two spectacular turret residences, elevated above the London skyline, offer a home like no other and homeowners will benefit from having all the facilities of a world-renowned hotel on their doorstep without having to compromise on the highest levels of privacy and seclusion within their home.

This complex balance has been achieved thanks to the building’s majestic original architecture which lends itself perfectly to a mixed-use development of this stature. At the helm of The OWO project is the Hinduja Group, an international multi-billion turnover group founded in 1914 and passionately committed to the building since its acquisition in 2014. The company has worked with a team of experts including Historic England and Museum of London Archaeology, and appointed EPR Architects to oversee the intricate redevelopment.

The hotel interiors are being designed by New York-based designer Thierry Despont. The Hinduja Group has partnered with world-renowned Raffles Hotels & Resorts, who will be operating the 120-room and suite flagship hotel at The OWO, as well as the 85 branded residences. The service will be synonymous with the prestigious Raffles brand, with an illustrious history and some of the most prestigious hotel addresses worldwide, gracious and intuitive staff, personalised attention and a timeless ambience.

The OWO directly faces Horse Guards and is adjacent to St. James’s Park. Residents, hotel guests and visitors will be a short stroll from Buckingham Palace, The National Gallery, The Tate and The Royal Academy, as well as the sought-after shopping streets of Regents Street, Bond Street and Jermyn Street.

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