Yesterday marked the topping out for London’s latest addition to the luxury hotel scene, now officially called The OWO, a 125-room flagship for Raffles Hotels & Resorts at the iconic Old War Office building (hence the name). Raffles also announced it will operate 85 luxury residences at this landmark destination on Whitehall, developed in partnership with The Hinduja Group and Obrascon Huarte Lain Desarollos (OHLD) as we reported in 2017.
All is on track for the project’s planned opening in early 2022, which will also include nine restaurants and bars, a destination spa and boutique retail, along with the 125 guestrooms and suites. All interiors are to be designed by New York-based Thierry Despont (his other London credentials include 45 Park Lane and The Dorchester).
The Grade II-listed Old War Office building, originally completed in 1906, is steeped in history. This architectural masterpiece has witnessed world-shaping events whilst influential political and military leaders, including Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George and Lord Kitchener, held office.
In other luxury hotel news, a wave of thrilling new eateries have opened or reopened in iconic properties. Davies and Brook launched at Claridge’s, the first London restaurant for chef Daniel Humm of Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park. Ironically, Claridge’s was where he started in the kitchen at the tender age of 15. He returns with three Michelin stars from New York, where he’s brought over some signature dishes, such as his duck glazed with honey and lavender, but mostly new dishes reflective of the London culinary scene (think: sea bass ceviche with avocado and cucumber, buttermilk fried chicken and poached halibut with shiitake mushrooms and garlic). Top tables: Center four-tops.
The “grill” restaurants at The Connaught and The Dorchester are both new-looking and with new cooking. The new vibe is discreet at The Grill at The Connaught—the room has no signage; you follow a corridor to the crisp, rosewood-paneled, 46-seat room designed by interiors architect John Heah. The cuisine is more bold, overseen by internationally renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (who also has an eponymous restaurant in the hotel) and executive chef Anshu Anghotra. The menu has British classics like roasted meats and veg, daily pie specials (from Shepherds to a more daring Oxtail and Bone Marrow). Top tables: The cosy leather booths. Meanwhile, The Grill at The Dorchester has been all over Instagram since reopening in November with a new, contemporary look and a daring, young head chef Tom Booton, who's getting praise for his take on Lobster Thermidor, Scotch Egg and an open-kitchen style Pudding Bar. Top table: Center four-tops, which are half chairs and booth seating or the Pudding Bar to see the 26-year-old chef in action.
Watch this space for full reviews on these new restaurants!