• Kevin Murphy

London: The New Admiralty Arch

One of the most well known former Ministry of Defence buildings, Admiralty Arch, is set to become one of Londons most popular destinations as a hotel,club and residences. The eight-storey 147,300 square foot property is in one of capitals best locations with views of Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square.

Designed by Sir Aston Webb and built by John Mowlem & Co., the property was completed in 1912 and was commissioned by King Edward VII. It got its name from its neighbouring property, the Old Admiralty Building. The sculptural figures of Navigation and Gunnery were designed by sculptor Thomas Brock.

The building was commissioned for the memory of Queen Victoria and one of the most well known occupants as First Lord of the Admiralty was Winston Churchill, at age 37, who commented on his appointment by saying:

“This is a big thing – the biggest thing that has ever come my way – the chance that I should have chosen before all others. I shall pour into it everything I’ve got.”

From 1939 to 1945 author and creator of the James Bond spy novels Ian Fleming worked as Personal Assistant to the Director of the Naval Intelligence Division, Admiral John Godfrey who is thought to have been the model for the character 'M' in the espionage stories.

In 2000, the Cabinet Office moved its offices into the building, but still had its headquarters on Whitehall. By 2011 the building was vacant and was put up for sale for a reported £75 million as part of a ‘government austerity program’.

The vacant property, with space of 147,300 sq ft over eight storeys had been falling into disrepair with a £900,000-a-year maintenance costs leading Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude to say that this situation amounted to a ‘tragic waste of an historic building’.

In October 2012, the winning bidder for the property was Spanish real estate developer Rafael Serrano and his London firm Prime Investors, who planned to transform the property into a luxury hotel. The property was sold as a 125-year lease for £60million.

The New Admiralty Arch

Not surprising that the Admiralty Arch property became a hot item as twelve of the leading hotel groups in the world became interested in managing the property. In October of 2012 Prime Investors Capital awarded the the well known Waldorf Astoria to be the hotel operator with the new title of Admiralty Arch Waldorf Astoria, London.

Guests and visitors will enter the property on a side entrance that is now Admiralty Place with quick check-in and rooms with top communication technology. With excellent views of the Mall and Trafalgar Square the hotel will feature 96 luxury rooms and suites with rooms being designed to accommodate international and local guests. Public areas are to reflect the history and listed status of the iconic property.

The north wing features four serviced residences once occupied by Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Mountbatten and Lord Hailsham. Each residence will be made of several suites according to the demands of each resident:

"...depending on the owner’s final design, tall ceilings,intricate crests, original fireplaces and fittings from the Edwardian era which can all be blendedwith contemporary interior aesthetics."

The Historic Apartment will have three to four bedrooms duplex with the Nelson and Palace Apartments will feature two or there bedroom. The largest is the Admiral Residence with five or six bedrooms. Apartment sizes vary from 17,00 square feet to 7100 square feet. Owners will also be able to lease their residences when not in use.

Additionally the hotel plans for its guests:

"The Admiralty Arch hotel will also feature one of the most talked about restaurants in London, on the first bridging floor, open to hotel guests and the public, with table views directly down The Mall towards Buckingham Palace. This will be open to the public for the first time in the building’s history. There will also be bars on both the inside and outside on the roof terrace."

"The Spa at Admiralty Arch will be an oasis of calm and the ultimate place to relax in the heart of vibrant, central London. Featuring an indoor swimming pool, treatment rooms, sauna, steam room and a yoga/pilates room, the spa will be run by some of the top wellness and fitness experts in London. It is also just minutes from the outside beauty of St. James’s Park enabling guests toexercise amid the majesty of the ultimate Royal Park."

TravelMole.com in 2017 quoted Christopher J. Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton, which owns the Waldorf Astoria brand:

"This agreement marries the timeless elegance of Waldorf Astoria with the historic grandeur of one of London's great monuments. Projects of this calibre are rare, and Admiralty Arch Waldorf Astoria will provide a truly unforgettable hospitality experience when it opens to guests."

Councillor Robert Davis MBE DL, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Business, Culture and Heritage, Westminster City Council told hotelnewsnow.com in 2017:

"I have worked with Prime Investors Capital for a number of years. First on the creation of the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge and more recently on their extensive plans to restore and refurbish Admiralty Arch into a luxury hotel. This extraordinary project is going to make a huge impact on Central London by opening up to the public an iconic building standing at the end of The Mall and adjacent to Trafalgar Square."

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