It’s where Churchill made some of the most crucial decisions of the war, the building from which Britain’s mighty military machine was once manoeuvred as it ruled the world, a place of heroics and slaughter, and it’s where you’ll soon be able to take your mum for afternoon tea.
The Old War Office is going to be the super-hotel-opening of 2022. The iconic 1,100 room building that dominates the Trafalgar Square end of Whitehall was sold for £350m back in 2017, and has just revealed that the new hotel will be named OWO (a clever acronym of Old War Office, not the sound you make when you stand on an upturned plug) and that the hotel will be run by Raffles Hotels along with the 85 luxury apartments that will form part of the project.
It’s, tenuously, something of a homecoming for Raffles, the hotel group originated with (and is named after) Raffles Hotel in Singapore, which in turn was named (by its Armenian owners) after the Englishman who founded the South East Asian colony and this will be Raffle’s first UK outpost. And that international flavour is reflected in OWO, speaking to the enduring appeal of London to international investors, OWO will be operated by Qatari-owned Raffles on behalf of Indian conglomerate The Hinduja Group and developed by Spanish developers OHLD. The hotel’s interiors will be by New York-based designer, and Frenchman, Thierry Despont.
The 85 residences are sure to be some of London’s most desirable properties, eyewateringly expensive and perfectly placed at the intersection of wealth and political power. Meanwhile, the hotel promises nine restaurants and bars, 125 rooms and impressive spa facilities. The Grade II listed building, set over seven floors and with over two miles of corridors celebrated its topping out ceremony last week and is expected to complete its transformation in time for a spring 2022 opening.