The Hinduja group has signed a deal with Europe's largest hotel chain to transform the UK's iconic Old War Office building, once occupied by Britain's war-time prime minister Winston Churchill, into a luxury hotel. Raffles Hotels and Resorts, the luxury brand that is part of France's Accor Hotels Group, today announced the signing of an historic partnership with the Hinduja Group and Spanish firm Obrascon Huarte Lain Desarrollos (OHLD) to transform the Old War Office building in Whitehall into the most unique hotel and deluxe residences in London. The Raffles Hotel in London will be the heart and soul of this exciting landmark destination, a statement said. Raffles Hotels and Resorts is delighted to complete its already stunning portfolio with such an exclusive asset in such strategic city and location, the group said in the statement. Steeped in history, the first Raffles Hotel was opened in 1887 in Singapore, named after the British statesman and founder of Singapore, Thomas Stamford Raffles. The Old War Office, with its 1,100 rooms across seven floors, and two miles of corridors, was completed in 1906. It was the office to many of the UK's most important and influential political and military leaders of the twentieth century, notably Churchill, David Lloyd George, Lord Kitchener, Herbert Asquith and T E Lawrence. It was also the haunt of the British Secret Service who had their own, more discreet, entrance. Close to 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, the Old War Office was bought by Hinduja Group and OHLD in December 2014 following a public bid. Planning permission was granted for a multi-purpose development including 125 rooms, of which 40 per cent are suites, 88 private residences, restaurants and other amenities.
Completion of the project is expected in just over three years. Commenting on the new partnership, Sebastien Bazin, Chairman and CEO of AccorHotels said, "I am delighted to announce this long-term management contract with the Hinduja Group and OHLD." "This is the start of an important partnership for Raffles Hotels and Resorts and will create a new and vibrant landmark for London. This is a significant step for Raffles and a strategic addition to the group's luxury portfolio. We remain committed to providing guests with unparallelled service and experience," Bazin said. Gopichand P Hinduja, the Hinduja Group's Co-Chairman, said the new partnership with Raffles Hotels and Resorts was a significant milestone in their vision to transform the Old War Office into London's finest luxury destination. "Raffles brings a unique understanding of British heritage and tradition that will help revive this great British landmark," Hinduja said. Sanjay G Hinduja, President of the Hinduja Group, said, "We are delighted that after the completion of the Grade I listed building in Carlton House Terrace, we can now apply this valuable experience to a greater challenge and create what will become the most iconic place in London." Juan Villar-Mir de Fuentes, Chairman of Group OHL, said the group is extremely proud to be part of, in partnership with the Hinduja Group, this exciting project which, reinforced with the Raffles brand, is now fully aligned with OHL Desarrollos's strong commitment and strategy to develop unique projects around the world. The Hinduja Group is India's foremost privately-owned group with a global footprint across 100 countries, employing over 100,000 people. Founded in 1914, it has become an international multibillion group active in ten business sectors encompassing automotive, energy, banking, IT, power generation, real estate, project development, media, healthcare and trading.