London’s Old War Office is filled with secrets, both political and pop culture. After all, the 1906 building, which sits in the Whitehall neighborhood right across the street from Her Majesty’s Horse Guards and less than a five-minute walk from 10 Downing Street, has been closed to the public for more than a century.
It’s where Winston Churchill commanded the British armed forces and author Sir Ian Fleming came up with James Bond. It later even served as the filming location for five Bond films and the Netflix series The Crown. But perhaps the greatest secrets can be found in the network of underground tunnels that have been used by spies and secretaries of state alike.
Now, the iconic British building is reinventing itself as it’s being transformed into the 125-room Raffles London at The OWO luxury hotel and the 85-unit OWO Residences by Raffles, both set to open in late 2022. There will also be nine restaurants and bars, plus an immersive spa, including a 65-foot long pool.
As the first Raffles property in London, the hotel will also have a 620-seat ballroom and a Winter Garden that will host daytime dining and afternoon tea. Meanwhile, the residences are now available for purchase, with two-bedroom homes starting at £5.8 million (about $8 million USD).
Every home within the building has its own shape and size, depending on its precise location, which means there are duplex, lateral, and penthouse residences from studios to five bedrooms, plus two turret residences above the skyline. The unique designs include ceilings that reach as high as 4.4 meters (about 14.5 feet). Residents will have access to 30,000 square feet of dedicated amenities, including a 16-seat screening room, game room, gym, workout studios, and seven lounges.
The redevelopment of the property has been headed by Hinduja Group, who has been working with Historic England, the Museum of London Archaeology, and New York-based designer Thierry Despont (who is spearheading the interiors) to ensure a thoughtful approach to the redesign.
The location at 57 Whitehall was once the site of the Palace of Whitehall, where British monarchs, including King Henry VIII, lived from 1530 to 1698. Plans for the Old War Office building started in 1898 by Scottish architect William Young and were completed by his son, Clyde Young, in 1906 after his father died in 1900. The five-year construction project that cost £1.2 million back then resulted in the 1,100-room building set on seven floors, spanning 580,000 square feet with two and a half miles of corridors.
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