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The Hinduja family's grandest London project
Posted on March 8, 2022
History and fiction, scandal and heroism collide in the Old War Office

'An opportunity like this comes around once in a lifetime; says Shalini Hinduja, daughter-in-law of the London­ based Indian businessman Gopichand Hinduja. GP, as he is known, and his brother Srichand, were ranked the third wealthiest people in the UK in 2021's Sunday Times Rich List, with a family fortune of £17 billion.

Shalini is not wrong. The opportunity to which she refers is the monumental  project she is overseeing for the family: transforming the Grade II* listed Old War Office at 57 Whitehall, right opposite Horse Guards and St James's Park and just a short stroll from Downing Street, the Embankment and Mayfair. For the past five years, she has been turning it into The OWO: a120-room Raffles hotel with 85 private residences. Raffles is the legendary Asian hotel group (now owned by Accor) the Hindujas chose to partner with on this project, famed for Raffles Hotel Singapore (birthplace of the Singapore sling) and Le Royal Monceau, Raffles Paris. This is its first foray into Britain.

The Hindujas bought the £350  million building in 2016 from the Ministry of Defence, which was selling off under-used assets. The Old War Office was built in 1906 and has featured in no fewer than five James Bond films. When it opens at the end of the year, it will be an all-singing, all-dancing 'destination,' with 11 places to eat and drink, including a rooftop restaurant and two under the aegis of Italian-Argentine chef du jour Mauro Colagreco (who has just  been  awarded the  Legion d'Honneur by President Macron). It will also have a ver­sion of the Raffles Singapore's Long Bar and a Guerlain spa, and it will house one of London's biggest ballrooms, seating more than 600 people.

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