After an eight-year long redevelopment and restoration, Britain’s Old War Office (OWO) in London will open its doors to the public for the first time on September 29th.
Renamed the The OWO, the historic building is now home to Raffles London at The OWO, 85 Raffles Residences, The Guerlain Spa and Pillar Wellbeing as well as nine restaurants and three bars, including a rooftop with panoramic views across St. James Park, The Mall and Buckingham Palace.
The redevelopment was helmed by the family-run Hinduja Group, which was committed to the revival of the building’s heritage features. With the help of hundreds of artisans, historic interior elements have been restored, including delicate hand-laid mosaic floors, oak paneling, glittering chandeliers, and a magnificent marble staircase. The centerpiece of this landmark transformation is Raffles London at The OWO, which has been developed in partnership between the Hinduja Group and Accor.
“I am delighted to announce the highly awaited opening of The OWO this September. When we came to Whitehall, the team were 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 from Hinduja Group.
“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 and CEO.
The first Raffles property in the United Kingdom, Raffles London features a grand staircase (shown below) wrapped around a two-storey chandelier, and 120 rooms and suites from famed designer, the late Thierry Despont.
“Raffles seeks out astonishing settings for each of its properties, and Raffles London at The OWO offers this generously. The rich heritage of the city, as well as the Old War Office building, make London a natural home for the Raffles brand, which has long been synonymous with legendary service, glamour, art, and storied destinations,” said Omer Acar, CEO of Raffles and Orient Express, Accor.
The most historically significant areas of the building are the Heritage Suites, former offices of political and military leaders including Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and Sir Richard Haldane. A number of these will be available for exclusive reservations as “The Whitehall Wing” This six-bedroom suite will occupy the west wing of the building and can accommodate up to twelve guests – one of the largest luxury hotel wings available in London.
Raffles London has partnered with chefMauro Colagreco, the chef behind Mirazur on the Côte d’Azur, to create three unique dining experiences: a signature restaurant – Mauro Colagreco at Raffles London at The OWO – with a particular focus on the rich diversity of native British vegetables; Mauro’s Table, an intimate space centered around an impressive dining table and backed by a show kitchen, offering private dining for up to 23 guests; and Saison, which will put a contemporary spin on the traditional hotel restaurant.
The hotel is also home to two bars: The Guard’s Bar and Lounge, which will introduce a signature “London Sling,” and The Spy Bar, a “surreptitious subterranean” cocktail bar.
Further outlets at the hotel include The Drawing Room, a relaxed all-day dining lounge overlooking Horse Guards, andPillar Kitchen, a wellbeing-focused outlet that will go beyond healthy food, tailoring meals akin to workouts by focusing directly on individuals’ specific needs.
Spanning more than 26,000 square feet over four floors, The Guerlain Spa at Raffles London is set to be one of the largest luxury hotel spas in London. It includes a 20m swimming pool, nine treatment suites, an extensive gym and L’Atelier Guerlain. Movement, recovery and nutrition experts, Pillar Wellbeing, will enable members to reach their full potential through personalized, innovative training and nutrition.
Raffles London at The OWO will be the new venue of choice for larger-than-life business events and launches. With access via the Grand Staircase, the Whitehall Ballroom offers capacity for up to 600 guests, complemented by an extensive pre-function space and dedicated meeting rooms, named Morse and Code.
Dining at The OWO
In addition to restaurants by Mauro Colagreco at Raffles London, The OWO will feature an additional four independent restaurants including Café Lapérouse (shown below), Paper Moon, Langosteria, and a rooftop restaurant and ground-floor sake bar by Creative Restaurant Group.
Situated in the main courtyard at The OWO, Café Lapérouse accommodates 80 diners. A prime location at the heart of The OWO ensures this will be a lively, sociable space from dusk until dawn. Milanese restaurant Paper Moon, set within one of the grand spaces of The OWO overlooking Horse Guards Avenue, will serve an eclectic selection of Italian favorites, daily aperitivi, and traditional cocktails with a twist.
Also set to open in the months following the launch is a rooftop restaurant and a sake bar by Creative Restaurant Group, led by chef Patron Endo Kazutoshi. The restaurant will be an ode to the traditions of Japanese cooking. In addition, the team will also launch a dedicated Sake Bar, situated on the ground floor of The OWO.
Making its UK debut, cult Milanese restaurant Langosteria will bring this fashion-world haunt to London for the first time. Known for its impressive selection of signature seafood dishes, Langosteria selects the best ingredients from all over the world, combining Italian traditions with a contemporary international approach.