A lounge with wooden floors and cream chairs and sofas

The OWO Whitehall, Residents’ Lounge. Image courtesy of Grain London

London’s hottest luxury residential area? Westminster, next to the Houses of Parliament and Downing Street. So what took it so long, asks Samantha Welsh

Big Ben, Downing Street, Whitehall, Parliament Square, Trafalgar Square: all names intimately associated with London, and now the administrative and touristic heart of the world’s high net worth capital. The area, broadly known as Westminster, is (pandemic excepted) the epicentre of tourism in Britain.

A bedroom with a green headboard, red cushions and throw on the bed

The OWO Whitehall, principal bedroom. Image courtesy of Grain London

And now you can live in high style down the road from the Prime Minister and the royals, with the creation of one of the most opulent residential developments in the world, inside the heart of the area’s grand buildings.

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The Old War Office (OWO), in Whitehall – opposite Horse Guards Parade and almost directly opposite Downing Street, and so near to the Prime Minister’s residence that you could shout from rooftop to rooftop to see if you could borrow some milk (or champagne for a lockdown party) – has been transformed into 85 apartments.

red velvet chairs on a landing with a curved brown staircase

The OWO residence turret. Image courtesy of Grain London

They are serviced by Raffles, the appropriately peripatetic luxury hotel brand now owned by the French Accor group. A new Raffles hotel, London’s first, is opening next-door and residents will have a full suite of luxury services. The building’s redevelopment has been done with thought: the best of British material and design, along with other high-end touches, like bespoke appliances by the German manufacturer Gaggenau.

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Residents will have priority access to 11 restaurants and 3,000sqm of leisure facilities, gardens and terraces. The building’s heritage has been conserved in partnership with Historic England, with design overseen by Thierry Despont. As an OWO resident your local chiming clock is Big Ben.

A corridor with blue walls and arched doors and lights hanging from the ceiling

The OWO residence entrance hall. Image courtesy of Grain London

This is the building from which Winston Churchill directed efforts in the Second World War of what was then the British Empire. The apartments now are suitably imperial, but have a contemporary smoothness. On your Sunday morning strolls in St James’ Park (assuming you haven’t decamped to your weekend home in the Cotswolds or Ramatuelle) you will bump into the Prime Minister, and numerous spies – the important ones are there on Sundays. Arguably the best school in the world, Westminster, is along the road. And if you need to lobby the government, you can just lean out of the window, while puffing on your Romeo y Julieta and sipping a glass of Pol Roger, Winston Churchill-style.

Find out more: theowo.london

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX