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Buy A Place In History: Residences At London’s Old War Office

18th Dec 23 - 6 MIN READ
The OWO

Prime London

Property in London's Belgravia, Westminster, Knightsbridge, Kensington, Chelsea, Mayfair and Marylebone remains some of the world's most sought-after - and expensive - residential real estate. While there were worries that 2023 could see a property price crash, the UK market has fared better than expected, even in light of increased interest rates. 

However, at Enness, we see the reality being that prime London will never really go out of fashion: the world's ultra-wealthy will always flock here, the luxury property market is resilient, and high-value London property (despite headwinds caused by Brexit, geopolitical unrest and a challenging world economy this year) will always be in demand. The variety of high-end real estate on offer , historical riverside setting, world leading cultural, retail and social scene, and the city being a key financial centre where many global high-net-worth individuals hold assets, own businesses, invest, and direct capital flows mean that owning a London property is simply the obvious choice  for many wealthy families. 

 

The Old War Office

In a city full of prime property to choose from, a home with a story, a history and, perhaps a pinch of je ne sais pas quoi (to borrow from the French) are additional selling points. And the Old War Office - ‘OWO’ for short - delivers on all fronts. The iconic building is today once again one of London’s most famous addresses (it has been the backdrop for movies, including several Bond films, including Octopussy, A View to a Kill, Licence to Kill, Skyfall and Spectre) as it opens as Raffles’ first London hotel along with 85 branded Raffles residences. 

Ian Fleming, who created the iconic British spy, James Bond, was a regular visitor at the OWO during his tenure with the Royal Navy Intelligence Division, and his work there was thought to have inspired some of 007’s escapades. Among other famous individuals to work at the War Office were Winston Churchill, David Lloyd George, Lord Kitchener, Lord Haldane and T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia). 

The military divisions that would ultimately become M15 and M16 didn’t have headquarters in the building during either the first or second world wars, but agents would visit to receive orders and to give debriefs - hence the OWO still retains a ‘spies entrance.’ The spies entrance is today a more discreet entry point to the building’s residences which are in a completely separate wing from the hotel, away from the main thoroughfare of Whitehall. The iconic building was completed with sculpted figures that symbolise Peace and War, Truth and Justice, Fame and Victory.

 

Raffles And Residences At The OWO

The OWO is today owned by the Hinduja Group, who completed a purchase of the building from the Ministry of Defence in 2016 for a price of £350 million. The sale price was, ultimately, a drop in the ocean, given a further investment well in excess of £1 billion was required to deliver the 120-room hotel and 85 residences. The hotel and residences are serviced by Raffles, through a partnership between the Hinduja Group and Accor, which today controls the Raffles brand.

A total of 85 homes make up the OWO’s residential offering, and they are some of the most unique and distinguished properties currently on the market in London. Homeowners will have access to Raffles services including the hotel’s 20-metre subterranean pool, as well as an owner’s dining room, gym, cinema and games room in their designated ‘wing’ of the building.

Every Raffles-branded residence within the OWO is completely unique, taking into consideration the existing features of the building in the floor plan of each home. As a result, every property has its own character: ceiling heights in one home may differ from the next - the same for windows - depending on where the residence is and what the rooms it occupies were originally used for. 

The OWO’s piece de resistance is its penthouse (price available on application - reports suggest a price tag of £100 million - wealth alone is also unlikely to be enough to buy the penthouse: owners will also need to be the right ‘fit’). One of the most unique properties in London, the five-bedroom penthouse is laid out over 7,700 sq ft,  and comes with a private gym, sauna and cinema as well as a games room. The penthouse offers views of some of London’s most iconic sights, including part of Downing Street, the London Eye and Nelson’s column. The property also has staff quarters, and expansive terraces nestled into the building’s flat roof. 

 

Mortgages

Several OWO properties have already been sold, with reports suggesting that initial interest predominantly came from British and American buyers, although the developments will have undoubtedly attracted international attention. The properties on sale are all high-value - at the bottom of the scale, properties cost around £2 million for a studio with prices rising depending on size, floor plan and features: those with terraces will usually be more expensive, for example. 

Lenders are very willing to finance OWO properties to the right buyers, given the quality of the assets, exceptional craftsmanship and the fact that the OWO is one again one of London’s main landmarks and one that will endure as such over the years. Residences like those at the OWO are one-of-a-kind, and it stands to reason that mortgages and finance will need to match. 

However given the nature and scale of such purchases, seeking advice on the transaction is key. Toby Johncox, Group MD explains, ‘Private banks are likely to offer mortgages, as will boutique and niche lenders that cater to high-net-worth individuals. In deals such as these, the lender will customise the mortgage to the buyer with individual rates and terms. The lender will be able to cater to international buyers, those with unusual revenue streams (i.e., multi-currency income) and offer specific products that may not be available to the mass-market, such as interest-only mortgages, high loan-to-value mortgages and so on. However navigating these avenues on your own can be overwhelming, time-consuming and possible result in the best route being overlooked’. 

 

London keeps leading the way

London continues to draw domestic and international buyers looking to purchase top-end luxury real estate. Anyone looking to make an ultra-prime purchase in the city is likely to be at least considering a residence at OWO, especially after the fanfare and rave reviews surrounding the hotel’s opening, which may have given confidence to prospective buyers now that the OWO is firmly ‘on the map’ as a top London address. 

The OWO residences offer something for every prime buyer: a one-of-a-kind property with a unique history, the very best design and finishes, an exclusive address, excellent security and access to top-end amenities on the doorstep - or underground, in the case of the pool and Guerlain spa. 

In short, anyone looking for the best in prime London living might find that the Raffles residences are, well, just the ticket. 

 

 

 
This guide is for information and illustrative purposes only and nothing contain within should be construed as advice or a recommendation.
Financing options available to you will depend on your requirements and circumstances at the time. Any changes in your circumstances, any known likely changes, or omissions in the information you provide can affect the suitability of the options available to you. These should be communicated to us as early as possible.
If you are considering securing debts against your main home, such as for debt consolidation purposes, please think carefully about this and consider all other options available to you. 
Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep us repayments on your mortgage or other debts secured on it.
The views and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not constitute advice or a recommendation. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Enness and are not intended to indicate any market or industry viewpoints, or those of other industry.