The most exciting opening of 2022, The OWO is setting the benchmark for hotels and luxury living in London. Set in the former Old War Office in Whitehall, directly facing Horse Guards and a stone’s throw from St James’s Park, the building is being transformed into a fabulous Raffles hotel, a collection of 85 Raffle-branded residences, 11 restaurants and bars, and an immersive spa.
Raffles Hotels & Resorts has been leading the charge since the Raffles Hotel in Singapore opened in 1887. Stephen Alden, CEO of Raffles & Orient Express, says, ‘I am delighted that a property of such magnificent stature will be the first to bear the Raffles name in one of the finest cities in the world. As a London landmark of true cultural significance, The OWO will be warmly embraced by our well-travelled guests. The partnership also provides us with an ideal opportunity to blend Raffles’ own distinguished British ancestry with an experience of London that reflects our guests’ contemporary lives.’
The Grade II-listed Old War Office has an illustrious history. Formerly the site of the original Palace of Whitehall, this architectural masterpiece was home to monarchs between 1530 and 1698. It was also witness to world-shaping events during the times Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and Lord Kitchener held office. It was John Profumo’s base when he was Secretary of State for War and inspired Ian Fleming to write the Bond series after working for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division.
Today, as the property enters its new dawn, the original features remain. The ornate mosaic floors, detailed architectural mouldings and grand ceiling heights have been retained. Former mailrooms have been incorporated into a selection of residences and repurposed as spacious home offices. Similarly, all the interior materiality was chosen to complement the building’s historic elements: oak doors have more depth and are heavier, with oversized bronze doorknobs reminiscent of early 20th-century style.
The 85 branded residences, including two with private turrets, went on sale in June 2021. The first Raffles-branded and serviced residences in the UK and Europe, they range from studios to five-bedroom apartments. Designed by 1508 London, there will be bespoke handcrafted kitchens (complete with Gaggenau appliances) from British brand Smallbone of Devizes, Waterworks brass ironmongery and onyx marble. The unwavering attention to detail in each residence is extraordinary, demonstrating the years of craftmanship that have been applied to every aspect of the majestic building. To cement its support of British talent, fit-out contractors Ardmore assigned 850 workers to the site and offered 100 apprenticeships for young people working in construction as plumbers, electricians and carpenters.
The amenities are superb with 30,000 sq/ft of dedicated spaces exclusively for residents. These include a 16-seat cinema for private screenings, games room, gym with three studios and a treatment suite. There will be seven lounges to boot, from meeting rooms to private dining, and underground parking with number plate recognition.
Once complete, The OWO is set to become the hot new cultural destination for London. Not only an outstanding hotel, it’s a chance to own a spectacular living space and piece of London’s rich history – all within walking distance of the capital’s highlights.