Wwhere better to watch the King’s inauguration – dressed to the nines with a martini in hand as the carriages slowly roll down Whitehall – than in the prime ministerial offices of the past? Owners of about a dozen newly completed homes in the Old War Office were home for the festivities, many for the first time – and what a home heating system must have been.
About a third of the 85 apartments that make up OWO Residences and Raffles have sold, despite a starting price of £8 million for two bedrooms, and going up to what is thought to be £100 million for a penthouse. Charlie Walsh, marketing director of development, said: “History and the heritage of this building is very attractive. “
It has a fine pedigree: Herbert Asquith, Lord Kitchener, David Lloyd George and Winston Churchill all had offices there. It was also when John Profumo courted Christine Keeler, a nightclub hostess whose affair with a Soviet soldier caused national scandal. TE Lawrence, also known as Lawrence of Arabia, and James Bond author Ian Fleming also had desks there. The building doubled as MI6 headquarters in several 007 films.
Buyers include Michael Bloomberg and Rebel Wilson
It was also the site of Charles I’s beheading – but perhaps less said about it is better.
Another attraction for buyers—including Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York; Todd Leland, president of Goldman Sachs; King Ceasor Augustus Mulenga of Uganda and actress Rebel Wilson – it’s a “Raffles connection”, says Walsh. When OWO opens next month it will house a 120-room Raffles hotel including nine restaurants and three bars, and the first Guerlain spa in London.
Owners with the Raffles name will enter through a separate entrance (referred to as the “spy room”) but will have access to all five-star facilities and other amenities of the hotel. “It’s a turnkey operation. They can call ahead and say they’re coming home to clean sheets on the bed, milk in the fridge and the car locked,” says Walsh.
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Ed Lewis, head of property development at Savills, says: “Buyers enjoy the fact that they own a hotel and the quality of the hotels, restaurants, rooms, spa, etc. They know the quality and culture of the staff and they expect quality. the same DNA replicated in the house. People associate quality with a hotel.”
OWO is the property with the name ne plus Ultra that is grabbing the headlines, but it is one of several hotel properties that are selling well in the capital. There are 640 types of housing developments worldwide, of which 20 have been completed or are expected to open by 2030 in London, according to Savills research.
The Whiteley has 139 bedrooms and 110 Six Senses rooms
That’s a small number compared to Dubai – which already has more than 40 buildings, which is expected to grow to 80 in the next seven years. South Florida, New York City and Phuket in Thailand also exceed London’s population. The top luxury hotels selling apartments worldwide are Marriott, Four Seasons, Hilton and Hyatt. Top non-hotel brands that offer their properties include Yoo, Trump, Armani, Versace and Bulgari.
The first branded hotels in London were the One Hyde Park rooms at the Mandarin Oriental, launched by the Candy brothers ten years ago. But it wasn’t until recently that the idea came to fruition with a number of luxury developments that attracted attention, notably Whiteley by Six Senses, Peninsula Residences by the Peninsula Hotels, Mayfair Park with the Dorchester Collection and No 1 Palace. Road to St Regis Residences.
● Estate agents make a killing at the War Office
“I think England lags behind the rest of the world in terms of real estate. It’s very common in New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai – it’s everywhere in Dubai. In London we’re just hearing a lot of housing. In the past we’ve always loved our homes. . Now we realize the advantages of living in a house and the biggest ones are obviously the functions and the conveniences,” says Alex Michelin, director of Finchatton, which created Twenty Grosvenor Square, the first stand-alone building of the Four Seasons, and now works on the Whiteley, which has 139 famous rooms and the Six Senses.
Michelin describes the brand name as “icing on the cake” as consumers are drawn to the quality of the cabins and amenities. Connecting with a hotel that is known for its services increases the guarantee that they will also get high-quality services in their accommodation.
Apartments at Six Sense Residences in Bayswater start at $3.025 million for a one-bedroom, sixsenses.com
“They know they’re not going to be a porter with a food-stained tie and a wrinkled jacket who sits at the desk and can’t be bothered to open the door when they come in. They know they’re coming to a place where we understand hospitality. It’s like staying in a five-star hotel but you have the house,” he says.
About 60 percent of Whiteley’s apartments have sold unfurnished – about $3,600 per sq ft, according to Michelin. The first apartments are due to be completed by the end of the year with buyers paying 120 per cent for the surrounding Bayswater area.
Title fees vary greatly by location. According to Savills, the average global cost of buying a similar no-name home would be 30 percent, ranging from 54 percent in emerging markets to 24 percent in cities such as New York and London.
Michelin doubts that non-hotel chains have the same power to attract customers when it comes to famous properties. “They are attracted by the reputation of the services that five-star hotels provide, I don’t see why they would be attracted by a fashion brand or a car brand,” he says. Both Porsche and Aston Martin have homes in Miami, Florida.
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Dean Main, CEO of Rhodium, which manages a variety of lodging properties, says non-hotel companies have realized that they need to offer luxury travel services and other hotel-related services.
“London from any city in the world you want [branding] at least. Luxury apartments with good services can sell well without it, if not better,” he says, pointing to Clarges by British Land, One Grosvenor Square by Lohda and Park Modern by Fenton Whelan, all of which sell well without the hotel moniker.
“The secret of my business in providing high quality services and good management, whether it is a well-known or unknown building, is the staff and the key is to organize,” says Main. “Not all of them come from hospitality. I like to be around men and women, hospitable people, soldiers, different cultures, people who have traveled a lot. Diversity is important. It is also not the same as providing services at a hotel where people stay for a few nights, fortnight. If it is their first or second home they are very much there and it is a great option. “
Houses in hotels are houses first, hotels second. They should know if your martini is shaken or not – don’t ask.