The 109-year-old conglomerate Hinduja Group has tied up with the Raffles Hotels & Resorts to restore the Old War Office (OWO) in London and reopen it as a luxury hotel, an official said here on Tuesday.
The OWO – from where then British Prime Minister Winston Churchill guided the country’s World War II efforts – will be inaugurated in its new avatar on September 26.
“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 restoring it to its original glory and paying homage to its heritage, while breathing new life into it,” said Sanjay Hinduja, who oversaw the project.
The Hinduja family had acquired the iconic building on Whitehall opposite Downing Street over eight years ago, and then collaborated with Raffles Hotels to transform it into an extravagant hub with luxury residences, restaurants and spas to “create a legacy that is both timeless and unsurpassed”, he said.
Designed by British architect William Young, the OWO was completed in 1906 and was formerly the site of the original Palace of Whitehall.
Since then, it witnessed world-shaping events when influential political and military leaders like Churchill and David Lloyd George were in power.
“At Raffles London, the history of the OWO lives on through its splendid architecture, carefully chosen interiors and expansive heritage suites, and visitors will be spoiled for choice with the eclectic array of world-class restaurants and bars there,” said Raffles London Managing Director Philippe Leboeuf.
Chairman and CEO of Accor, Sebastien Brazin, said everyone feels honoured and privileged to be part of this historic project that has surpassed all expectations to be possibly the most awe-inspiring hotel in the world.
The renovation included the services of hundreds of artisans who helped restore the historic interior elements, the delicate hand-laid mosaic floors, oak panelling, glittering chandeliers and a magnificent marble staircase for over six years.
The OWO will have 120 guest rooms and suites, signature dining experiences by Chef Mauro Colagreco, and entertainment spaces including a grand ballroom.
Some of the historically significant areas like the heritage suites, former offices of the WW-II era, etc. shall be available for exclusive reservation as ‘The Whitehall Wing’, a six-bedroom suite occupying the west wing which can accommodate 12 guests. It will be one of the largest luxury hotel wings in London.
The transformed OWO also houses 85 residences by Raffles as part of the buildings reimagining as a new culinary district of London with nine new restaurants, three bars, including a rooftop with panoramic views like the Buckingham Palace.
Its grand architecture also made the building a backdrop for James Bond films and recently for ‘The Crown’ Netflix series.
Founded by P.D. Hinduja, the Hinduja Group is among India’s premier diversified and transnational conglomerates with around 200,000 employees in 38 countries, spread across automotive, IT, media, entertainment and communication, banking and financial services, infrastructure, cybersecurity, oil and specialty chemicals, power, realty and healthcare.