Steep at over $2000 a night, but easily London’s most memorable stay

Travel News from Stuff - 18-12-2023
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Raffles London at The Old War Office … one for the history buffs.

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Directly opposite the Horse Guards Parade and one block from St James Park, Trafalgar Square, and the river, Raffles London has a superbly central location.

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The most remarkable thing about this hotel, however, is the building itself, completed in 1906 as the headquarters of the War Office.

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It is intimately associated with Winston Churchill, who worked from here on three separate occasions: as First Lord of The Admiralty, as Secretary of State for War, and as prime minister during World War II.

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Walk through the front entrance and you are greeted by a truly magnificent atrium dominated by a grand marble staircase (an original feature) and a two-storey chandelier (not an original feature).

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The Hinduja Group spent £1 billion restoring the building, rescuing original features like the oak panelling and introducing beautiful new features like the vivid red drapes inspired by the coats of the Horse Guards who stand watch across the road.

Raffles has some of the most expensive rooms in London so expect to pay upwards of £1000 (NZ$2032) a night. However the building’s high ceilings, the white-and-green decor and the spacious marble bathrooms add a level of luxury to even the entry-level rooms.

If money is no object, the suites – originally the offices of the top brass, and blessed with extraordinary dimensions – are the most spectacular lodgings in London.

My Haldane Suite, which was once Churchill’s office, covers 250 square metres and includes a green marble bathroom, a dressing room and a spectacular sitting room with not one but two ornate fireplaces (there’s another in the bedroom) and the very desk at which Churchill used to sit.

It wouldn’t be Raffles without a serious selection of cocktails and the range on offer at The Guards Bar is terrific. There’s the London Sling, a local take on the Singapore Sling, but there are plenty of other creative cocktails on the menu, all inspired by the elements of a Singapore Sling.

Another guests-only bar is tucked away in the basement. The hotel will ultimately have nine restaurants, including Italian, French and a rooftop Japanese, but the already-open eateries include the elegant Mauro by Mauro Colagreco, who also helms the three-Michelin-starred Cote d’Azur restaurant, Mirazur.

Colagreco – who is known for sourcing outstanding produce – also runs the all-day diner Saison: the cinnamon twists at breakfast are terrific.

The hotel has a gym, a lovely basement pool and a Guerlain spa that delivers superb treatments (the Royal Glow Tech facial will leave your skin looking sensational). Many of London’s top sites are nearby including the National Gallery, Westminster Abbey and St James’s Park.

The hotel tour offered to guests is fascinating. The hotel will also offer tours to non-guests on 10 scheduled days next year.

A Kiwi barista would lift the coffee up a notch.

Prices are steep but what else would you expect at the most memorable stay in London?

Rooms from £1100 ($2235) a night. Seven accessible suites. See:

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