Raffles Hotels & Resorts to open its first London outpost at former Old War Office building

SINGAPORE – Raffles Hotels & Resorts, the brand behind Singapore’s iconic hotel, will soon operate its first London outpost in a building that once housed the office of former British prime minister Winston Churchill.

The hotel at the former Old War Office building will comprise 125 rooms and suites, a collection of nine restaurants and bars, and a spa.

Raffles will also service its maiden branded residence in Europe – The OWO Residences by Raffles with 85 homes.

The Hinduja Group, owned by the Britain’s third-wealthiest family, is helming the project, which is set to be completed in 2022 after renovations that began in 2016.

The OWO, as the building will be known when it reopens, directly faces the Horse Guards and is next to St James’s Park.

It is also in close proximity to other landmarks such as Buckingham Palace and The National Gallery.

Sales are via Knight Frank and Strutt & Parker, and prices for a two-bedroom residence start from £5.8 million (S$10.8 million).

Mr Nicholas Keong, head of residential international project marketing at Knight Frank Singapore, expects the project’s iconic position in the British capital to appeal to buyers in Asia.

He added that Singaporeans identify closely with the Raffles brand, and the residences offer a unique opportunity for buyers in Central London that will be difficult to replicate.

The 760,000 sq ft Old War Office building, which has been closed to the public for over a century, was designed by British architect William Young and originally completed in 1906.

It is a Grade II* building, a classification for buildings of the second-highest special architectural or historic interest in Britain.

It is the former site of the original Palace of Whitehall, which was home to King Henry VIII and other monarchs.

Former British prime minister David Lloyd George and former secretary of state for war John Profumo were among the other politicians besides Churchill who used the building.

The landmark also served as inspiration for author Ian Fleming in his James Bond novels, and has been featured in the spy films as well as in historical drama series The Crown.

The project is set to be completed in 2022 after renovations that began in 2016. PHOTO: KNIGHT FRANK

The Hinduja Group and Spain-based OHL Desarrollos acquired the property for £350 million in 2014 from Britain’s Ministry of Defence on a 250-year lease.

The OWO will grow Accor-backed Raffles’ list of overseas residences, which are in Jakarta and Makati city in the Philippines. It also operates private residential villas in Praslin, Seychelles.

Raffles also has hotels in countries such as France, Poland and Turkey.

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