Raffles London at The OWO

A grand London icon

Taking over the iconic Old War Office in Whitehall was no easy feat, but Raffles London at The OWO looks right at home here. It took hundreds of skilled craftspeople eight years to complete the hotel’s painstaking restoration, bringing period features back to life, including hand-laid mosaic floors, oak paneling and chandeliers. Step inside, and you’re certain it was well worth the wait.

The corridors — all 2.5 miles of them — echo with history and the influential figures who used to frequent the OWO back when it was built for the British Army in 1906. Winston Churchill had an office here, and what went on between these walls inspired Ian Fleming, who worked in the OWO during WWII with naval intelligence, to write James Bond.

Boasting 120 meticulously designed rooms and suites by Thierry Despont, alongside 85 exclusive private residences, the hotel is a palatial retreat. From the moment you enter, the opulence is palpable, with a signature scent that wafts through the lobby that was crafted exclusively by perfumer Azzi Glasser. If that doesn’t immerse you entirely, the Grand Staircase will. Once the hub of the OWO and now the heart of the hotel, it is resplendent in white marble with a gold fairytale clock ticking at the center.

Elsewhere in the Edwardian Baroque landmark, you’ll find modern amenities, including nine restaurants, three bars, a spa and an enticing rooftop.

Our Inspector's Highlights

  • The London hotel's Guerlain Spa spans 27,000 square feet over four floors and houses nine exquisitely designed treatment suites, including three VIP Spa Suites and a private hair and beauty treatment space. The spa is a wellness and beauty haven, with a 20-meter swimming pool, vitality pool and steam and sauna rooms. Also part of the spa, the Pillar Wellbeing Health Club is one of London’s best hotel gyms. It’s sleek, outstanding and well-kitted-out, complete with boxing equipment, Peloton bikes and Theraguns. To maintain the health kick, the Pillar Kitchen serves nutritious dishes catering to all diets.
  • Three restaurants are headed up by acclaimed chef Mauro Colagreco. Saison, a light, bright, all-day restaurant with stunning double-height ceilings and a hand-painted mural, serves breakfast, complete with an oyster bar. In the evening, you can savor Colagreco’s passion for local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients. Across from Saison is Mauro Colagreco at The OWO, the chef's signature fine-dining restaurant focusing on remarkable vegetable-focused tasting menus. Finally, there’s Mauro’s Table, a chef’s table in a private room that’s perfect for special occasions.
  • The Guards Bar is a sultry spot for evening cocktails. The name and theme pay homage to the Household Cavalry that is stationed opposite The OWO, but it feels more chic than kitsch. An excellent drinks menu splits cocktails into those using British garden herbs and those with exotic ingredients from further afield. The Herbal Global tequila libation with lemongrass umami vermouth and cucumber agua fresca is a must-try.
  • Not only is Raffles London stationed at one of the city’s most storied addresses, but the location also remains a hive of activity and culture. Trafalgar Square with its beautiful galleries, the cobbled streets of Covent Garden, shopping haven Piccadilly Circus and the idyllic St. James’s Park are all easily walkable from the hotel in a matter of minutes.
  • Go to the hotel’s rooftop for Kioku By Endo, a Japanese-Mediterranean dining concept, as well as outstanding views over Big Ben and Buckingham Palace.

Things to Know

  • History buffs will be happy to know that they can take a historical tour of the luxury hotel — complimentary for guests — to learn more about its captivating past.
  • Considering the size of The OWO, it’s no surprise that everywhere in the hotel is signposted so that you don’t get lost. There’s one place, however, that isn’t: The Spy Bar. This subterranean watering hole is only for hotel guests and stays open until 1 a.m. You’ll be escorted there by a member of the concierge team and once in, no photos are allowed. But you’ll be too busy sipping 007’s favorite cocktail, The Stinger, to care.

The Rooms

  • There are 39 suites, many with superb interconnectivity and awe-inspiring views. Stand-out accommodations are the five Heritage Suites, situated in the former offices of influential political and military leaders, and eight Corner Suites, each named after notable women and female spies. They are in the majestic cupolas overlooking Whitehall. The Nearne Suite, in particular, is divine, featuring a vaulted-ceiling bedroom with a skylight and three curved windows. It’s perhaps the only hotel suite in London where you can watch the change of the Horse Guards from your window.
  • The late Thierry Despont designed the rooms and suites so that they would honor the Edwardian heritage of the building while breathing new life into spaces. Marble fireplaces, elegant cornicing and delicate chandeliers feel regal but unstuffy. Specially commissioned carpets with geometric patterns, plush, brightly hued curtains and patterned wall coverings stand out against dark wooden features.
  • While the building may hearken back to the past, the rooms and suites are fully modern. Sleek marble bathrooms have smart heated toilets, and you won’t find cables or remotes anywhere. An iPad lets you control the television and music, order room service and chat with the concierge team.

24-hour room service
Babysitting services
Fitness classes
House car
Indoor pool
Meeting rooms
Pet friendly
Getting There
57 Whitehall, SW1A 2BX, London, United Kingdom
LHR (45 min-1 hr 30 min)   LCY (28-55 min)   LGW (1 hr 10 min-1 hr 50 min)  
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