Hilton has scored a coup in securing the management of the Admiralty Arch in London to transform it into the UK's second Waldorf Astoria.
Three years after it announced it was in talks with more than 12 luxury operators, the owner of the iconic property Prime Investors Capital (PIC) has appointed Hilton to operate the 96-bedroom hotel under its leading Waldorf Astoria brand upon opening in 2022.
Christopher J. Nassetta, president and chief executive of Hilton, highlighted the significance of the deal by describing the calibre of the project as "rare".
He added: "This agreement marries the timeless elegance of Waldorf Astoria with the historic grandeur of one of London's great monuments. Admiralty Arch Waldorf Astoria will provide a truly unforgettable hospitality experience when it opens to guests."
The only other Waldorf Astoria in the UK is the 241-bedroom Caledonian hotel in Edinburgh. The 137-bedroom London Syon Park hotel, owned by the Ability Group, originally opened as a Waldorf Astoria property in 2011, but was rebranded to the Hilton portfolio two years later. Prior to that, Waldorf Astoria debuted in the UK in 2009 at the 64-bedroom Bentley hotel in London, but the branding was later dropped and the property is now a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts consortium.
PIC bought a 99-year lease on the Admiralty Arch in October 2012 for £60m as part of a wider sell-off of unused government buildings in a bid to raise more than £1b for the nation's coffers. It completed the purchase of the 250-year lease in 2015.
Admiralty Arch Waldorf Astoria will have three restaurants, a rooftop bar, private meetings and event spaces, and a spa. Luxury private residences, a private members club and other exclusive food and beverage components will also join the hotel within Admiralty Arch.
Rafael Serrano, chief executive of PIC, said: "As the proud owners of Admiralty Arch, we have every confidence that, together with Waldorf Astoria, we will ensure that this London landmark enters the next chapter of its life in safe hands and maintains its iconic standing in the capital."
Work is already underway to restore the building's original features, and a design team is in place, led by Michael Blair and David Mlinaric. Blair's work includes the restoration and extension of the Ritz, the Connaught and Claridge's, while Mlinaric's body of work includes the Royal Opera House, the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Gallery in London. Historical interiors expert Andrew Damonte completes the design team, who has worked alongside Mlinaric on the restoration of Dumfries House in Scotland.
Councillor Robert Davis, deputy leader and cabinet member for business, culture and heritage at Westminster City Council, said: "This extraordinary project is going to make a huge impact on Central London by opening up to the public an iconic building."
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