Raffles, THE OWO, LONDON
A hotel for the books
- team luxe List
Let’s take a look inside London’s most expensive, ultra-luxury hotel, sitting in an iconic location, here to advocate a new dawn for luxury hotel groups
2023 has been an exciting year for London so far. Thanks to the return of Maximalism, the arrival of prestigious hotels like Mandarin Oriental in Mayfair, and The Peninsula has shaken the game of luxury hospitality groups, and now, Raffles at The OWO has completely disrupted it and as it was assumed to since eight years have gone by in the monumental transformation and upscaling of the iconic Old War Office on Whitehall, the epicenter of British Government for the two World Wars. The 1906-built, 586,000 sq. ft building has been renovated beyond recognition to accommodate a new Raffles group venture that would stand as a state-of-the-art hotel while paying tribute to the legacy and heritage of the British Landmark it proudly roots on.
This was the most anticipated opening in London for this year and now that it opened its doors on the 29th of September in full splendor, it seems quintessential to talk about it.
The story behind it
In 2014, the grand building of the British Military was sold to the Hinduja Group, the multi-business conglomerate of Britain’s richest family, at a whooping £1.2 billion for a 250-year lease by the UK Government. The Raffles Group transformed the building into a cutting-edge Raffles hotel in collaboration with EPR Architects and New-York-based designer Thierry Despont, who is known for turning around landmark structures to fit within the contemporary times, holding a rich portfolio of work for several iconic spots like The Getty Centre, Maison Cartier, The Carlyle and the Statue of Liberty. However, the hotel would only make up half of the structure; the other half would be made up of high-end private residences.
- Former British officers at work in the building
“When we came to Whitehall, the team was blown away by the size and beauty of this majestic building. No expense has been spared in bringing it back to its former glory and paying homage to its heritage, whilst breathing new life into it. Along with Raffles London at The OWO, we hope to create a legacy that is both timeless and unsurpassed,” said Sanjay Hinduja, who has overseen the project.
The rich history of the building is tied to the fact that Henry VIII and other monarchs resided there before 1906 for it was the original palace of the Whitehall. This striking Edwardian edifice at Whitehall is near Buckingham Palace, the House of Commons, Westminster Abbey, and Downing Street. After 1906, it was redesigned to serve as the office of influential political and military leaders including Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, and John Profumo; those offices are now some of the key suites at the hotel. The larger-than-life chandeliers, long corridors, grand staircases, oak paneling, and mosaic flooring – all these historic elements of the building have stood the test of time and have been restored beautifully, exuding a charm that no other historic hotel in the world boasts. The fact that this building and its interiors have been used as a backdrop for several James Bond films and a show, The Crown, makes more sense now.
- The old common dining room in the building where dinners were hosted by Winston Churchill
- The current private Dining Room in the hotel
Stepping inside this stunning hotel feels like immersing into a whole new world where history, art, and grandeur combine seamlessly to bring forth a magical experience.
The five Signature Suites in the hotel have been designed gloriously to provide ample space and yet embrace the feeling of cozying up inside the room, luxuriating in the amenities offered, and basking in panoramic views across Whitehall, The Mall, and Buckingham Palace. The design is lavish, be it in the rooms and suites or the common areas – every piece of the interior feels regal, pulling its own charm yet making up for the whole ambiance. The other, highly sought-after rooms are in the grand turrets with views of Whitehall; they are named after prominent women in history, and one of them is called ‘Clementine’ after Churchill's beloved wife.
The impressive architectural wonder is a sight to behold. Hundreds of artisans and designers have committed to restoring the vintage feel of the building’s foundation and laminating it with avant-garde style.
The hotel has 120 rooms including 39 suites, many with superb interconnectivity and awe-inspiring views, set over five expansive floors, each with its unique character. The accommodation at Raffles London includes a spacious bedroom with large marble bathrooms with separate showers and amenities. Every little detail has been carefully placed and intricately designed in touch with the hotel’s aesthetic. The restaurants and dining room reflect the same majestic charm while the spa and the pool area are contemporary in their design but not without a touch of elegance – every corner of the hotel is framed to address the very many moods of the modern-day traveler. For people wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city or experiencing this gem purely for its architectural excellence, or even celebrating a special occasion – Raffles, London should be your best bet. It’s obvious that the hotel only caters to affluent members with a discerning taste for luxury and the price point speaks for it with the range lying between £1,100 - £25,000.
A four-storeyed Guerlain Spa has also been built to provide holistic wellness through an array of treatments and programs by some of the leading experts in the field. Alongside, nine treatment suites, a 20-metre indoor swimming pool, vitality pool, sauna and steam rooms, a modern gym, and a movement studio have been set up. Raffles London is where the most exceptional well-being experiences are brought to life and how.
The hotel also features a total of nine restaurants and three bars, with three exclusive dining menus crafted by Michelin-star chef Mauro Colagreco including Mauro’s Table, a private dining room, and guest access to an exceptional show kitchen. It will also be home to The Guards Bar, a sumptuous cocktail and champagne bar, and The Drawing Room, where London’s rich history and wide-ranging cuisine will be honored and inspired by tradition. For those seeking the more clandestine and mysterious experience, The Spy Bar is the hotel’s unique speakeasy bar, hidden in the dark and shadowy depths of The Old War Office.
A glittering Whitehall Ballroom is also built which further elevates the beauty of the property.
Then there are the 85 private residences costing between £4 million for a one-bedroom and £100 million for a five-bedroom penthouse. This is the best luxury that one can imagine.
With its historic address and exquisite structures, it is also the perfect destination for special occasions - from glamorous weddings and history-making state dinners to larger-than-life business events and launches – intimate or grand, Raffles, London will make sure you indulge in a great time. The legendary ballroom can accommodate up to 6,000 people and with entry via the grand staircase, you can be rest assured that your event will be an equally grand affair.
“Everyone at Accor feels honored and privileged to be part of this historic project that has surpassed all expectations – truly a legend in the making and possibly the most awe-inspiring hotel on the planet. Together with the Hinduja family, we proudly invite locals and travelers alike to experience this extraordinary hotel as well as the authenticity and graciousness of Raffles, one of our most prestigious brands in one of the world’s greatest cities,” said Sébastien Bazin, Accor Chairman & CEO.
We’re excited to see how this ultra-luxury hotel receives the love and admiration of its guests and takes the fort of hospitality and service, up higher notches.
For more information and bookings, visit their website.
Have we got you swooning yet?
Reach out to us at email@example.com for planning your trip to London and grabbing the best offers at select luxury hotels and restaurants.
We’d be happy to help.