London’s Old War Office

The former London Second World War office for Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the British Secret Service is to undergo a major redevelopment into a new hotel by European luxury brand – Raffles Hotels and Resorts. The property, the Old War Office at 57 Whitehall, joins other former London military buildings, Admiralty Arch and Chelsea Barracks, having been sold off by the Ministry of Defence to private developers for luxury flats, hotel spaces and restaurants.

The three year regeneration of the Old War Office will be a partnership by Raffles and Hinduja Group of India with the construction by Obrascón Huarte Lain Desarrollos of Spain.

Past and Future

In 2014 the Old War Office was bought from the UK Ministry of Defence for £350m by London- based Hinduja and Obrascón Huarte Lain Desarrollos. The building which opened in 1906 at a cost of £1.2 million is in a prime location near Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street. The Grade II listed building has 1100 rooms covering seven floors with over 580,000 square-feet and 2.5 miles of corridors.

Raffles, the luxury brand of Accor Hotels Group of France, is famous for its hotel in Singapore which opened in 1887 and is named Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the former Lieutenant-Governor of British Java and founder of Singapore. Its most famous drink the Singapore Sling was invented at the Singapore hotel in 1915.

Plans for the Old War Office were approved in 2014 and allows the building to become a mixed use development with 125 rooms and 88 one, two, three, four and five bedroom flats. Also in the plan is a 600-person ballroom, restaurants, an 82-foot swimming pool, spa and wine cellars. The value of the property once completed is expected to be at least £1 billion.

In an interview with Development Finance Today, Sébastien Bazin, chairman and chief executive of Accor stated: “London is and will remain a key hub for hospitality in Europe — whatever happens with Brexit,”

“It is attractive to travellers from all over the world, a great place to do business and a marvellous city to live in. Combining London and Raffles in such an iconic location is a very exciting opportunity.”

Simon Barry, of Harrods Estates, told the Daily Mail that the Raffles development was ‘great news for London… and demonstrates confidence in the London prime property market.’

He also stated: ’It is a magnificent building and the redevelopment will see it restored to its former splendour, akin to 10 Trinity Square and North Acres One Palace Street.’

By Kevin Murphy:

Wealth & Investing
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