The most glamorous, sought after address in London has changed – relocating from the residences at One Hyde Park to those at Sir Winston Churchill’s Old War Office on Whitehall. Ineffably glamorous, shrouded in history and, best of all, from the turrets you’ll be able to spy over into Downing Street. Spy being the operative word given the building’s affinity with the vocation – as an HQ for Ian Fleming, who worked for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division, and as a star in more James Bond films than any other building. Sold by Her Majesty’s Government in 2014 to Rich List stalwarts, the Hinduja brothers, the building is now a year away from opening as half state-of-the-art Raffles hotel and half gobsmackingly glorious private residences (the very first in the UK and Europe by Raffles).
The apartments, two of which will occupy the four statesman-like turrets, are each individually designed by 1508 London (and the hotel is being done up by Thierry Despont, behind the Ritz in Paris and Maison Cartier). But, it’s not just the ritzy new – it’s the wonderfully old, the restored mosaic floors, the old messenger rooms (repurposed as a design feature) and the theatrical marble entrance that are goosepimple-inducingly dazzling.
Starting at £5.8 million for a two-bed apartment – the prices will go up and up and up from there, operating on a ‘price on application’ basis. One can’t help but wonder – with the intoxicating combination of history, old world glamour and its location – if the five-bedder might just topple £100 million? Shalini Hinduja, the daughter-in-law of Gopichand Hinduja, one of the famous brothers, is charged with the enviable job of creating the homes at the sought after address. She rather aptly described the process as ‘like selling artwork’ in a conversation with the Times. Many of the ceilings run to a staggering 4.4 metres high – putting the grandest Edinburgh abodes to shame – and Chruchill’s old room, a handsome floor-to-ceiling oak panelled suite, will be available for private dinners (an experience you can hardly put a price on).
Not just political bigwigs, it was the site of the original Palace of Whitehall, a residence for Henry VIII and other monarchs before a disastrous fire in 1698. The actual physical building has witnessed world-shaping decisions and events – also, as far as secretaries of state go, it was a base of John Profumo, Lord ‘Your Country Needs You’ Kitchener and PM David Lloyd George (to name but a few). And, not just a site for multifarious James Bonds, from 1983’s Octopussy to Skyfall, 2012 – but also, more recently, The Crown.
It’s a tour de force of architectural brawn – as William Young’s showpiece originally and, today, being worked on by EPR Architects (behind the redevelopments at The Ned and the Rosewood). Then, if that wasn’t enough, in the central cobbled courtyard will be a Zaha Hadid pavilion doubling as one of the nine restaurants in situ (a pavilion to make the Serpentine’s annual architectural blockbuster sit up and take note). The pubs of Whitehall will no longer be an axis for Westminster gossip – my guess is that political insiders and journalists will be more keen to take root in the rooftop turret bar withs its view outwards to Horse Guards Parade, the one time location of the London 2012 Olympic Volleyball.
Of course residents with a hankering for outdoor space, will just need to meander to Marcus Barnett’s spectacular garden that is all oscillating greenery, trickling water and meditative calm – and for a more brusque walk, Green Park is but a skip away. The facilities are breathtaking – multiple gyms (with natural light pouring in between bonsais and olive trees), a 16-seat cinema for private screenings, access to a grand-in-excelsis hotel pool and multiple lounges. You’d be a fool to miss this once in a lifetime opportunity, I cannot emphasise enough, the residences are on sale now.
theowo.london, Knight Frank and Strutt & Parker; firstname.lastname@example.org