What’s the Old War Office?
Well, it’s two things. Firstly, it’s the old war office where Churchill valiantly conducted the war effort, and it’s also a brand spanking new London hotel that’s likely going to be the poshest new hotel to open in London in years. The building opened in 1906, but the hotel’s opening on 29 September marks the first time in its history the property has been open to the public.
So less old, more new, then?
Not quite: an intriguing mix of both. The Old War Office is a genuine historical relic, so much so that some cultural organisations are properly miffed that it’s being turned into a luxury hotel. However the Old War Office will open its historical spaces for public tours for the public to walk around and view the historically important innards. Loads of original features have been refurbished over eight years thanks tothe work of hundreds of craftspeople, and highlights include mosaic floors, oak panelling, original chandeliers and a focal point marble staircase. Then the sort of towering high ceilings that make you feel both dizzy and materially insignificant when you look up into them. But being a brand new Raffles hotel, the facilities, and the hotels’ outlook, will be squeaky clean and fresh.
How big is it?
Literally huge. And we aren’t just talking about the buzz. There are nine (nine!) restaurants within the Old War Office, so think something like The Ned in the Square Mile, then times it by two. There’s also 120 guest rooms and a rooftop bar with views over St James’ Park, The Mall and Buckingham Palace. It fills the entirety of Admiralty Arch, which is the impressive structure you drive through as you enter onto The Mall to drive down to Buckingham Palace.
I want to sleep where Churchill chugged cigars. Can I?
Yes! Don your most fab waist coat, Locke & Co bowler hat and tuck a cigar into the inside pocket: it’s time to get your Churchillian roleplay on. The Heritage Suites take over the spaces that were formerly the offices of the big man himself, as well as other historical figures including David Lloyd George, Prime Minister between 1916 and 1922.
What about the food?
Of the nine restaurants and three bars, the one to book is Mauro Colagreco at Raffles London at the OWO, the signature restaurant. It’s about local, seasonal ingredients and dishes will likely be inspired by Colagreco’s time spent working on the French Riviera where he is lauded. There’ll be a particular focus on British vegetables at all three of his restaurants within the OWO. The Drawing Room will be for relaxing dining overlooking Horseguards Parade and The Spy Lounge cocktail bar pays homage to the British intelligence officers who frequented this building back in the day. Oh, and the rooftop will be led by Michelinstarred chef Endo Kazutoshi.
The Whitehall Ballroom hosts 600, in case you fancy dropping the net value of Wolverhampton on your next big event, and there are meeting rooms called Morse and Code as part of the business suites, a cute nod to the hotel’s wartime history.
So I’ll be spending my autumn here then?
Yeah, kind of. But the OWO joins a cohort of other impressive restaurant openings this autumn. There’s also a new Wolseley on the way, this time in the City of London, as well as Bébé Bob, an offshoot of Bob Bob Ricard, and a new restaurant that earmarks the return of Jamie Oliver. Get your shirts pressed, it’s cuffing season.