Defying Brexit, Raffles signs deal to open first London hotel

Old War Office, Whitehall, London (Following a recent London trend, AccorHotels will renovate the Old War Office into a 125-room hotel. )

AccorHotels Group's luxury brand Raffles Hotels & Resorts has signed a partnership deal with India's Hinduja Group and Spanish construction company Obrascón Huarte Lain Desarrollos to convert Whitehalls' Old War Office building into a hotel. According to the Financial Times, the renovations will be complete in a more than three years. 

This new hotel in Whitehall will be the first London property operated by Raffles. Hinduja and OHLD purchased the office of former Prime Minister Winston Churchill during WWII and sections of the British secret service, near Buckingham Palace and 10 Downing Street, from the UK Ministry of Defense for about $447.23 million in late 2014. Hinduja and OHLD have received a planning permit for a multi-use development with 125 rooms—40 percent of which are suites—and 88 private residences. 

The office is a Grade II-listed building that was built in 1906. The 1,100-room building has two miles of hallways across seven floors. The renovation of the Old World Office is just one of the many London landmark conversions in the city. The project follows the renovations of the Admiralty Arch and The Ned, which was the former Midland bank headquarters, into hotels.

According to a PwC forecast for 2017, London hotels are still facing the uncertainty around Brexit, concerns of terrorism and travel budget cuts by businesses. The report has predicted that RevPAR will drop by 0.5 percent this year to about $146 while ADR will rise 0.4 percent to about $181. Occupancy is expected to decrease 0.8 percent to 80 percent. 

The Raffles brand is best known for Raffles Hotel in Singapore, which opened in 1887. Accor acquired FRHI Hotels & Resorts along with its Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel brands for $2.9 billion in cash and shares last year.