Well others can invest millions if not billions in opening a hotel with stunning architecture and a global household name performer but no-one, probably since sun king’s Louis XIV time, has thrown such a party as the Hinduja family did last night. This was a private event, to show off their RAFFLES LONDON AT OWO. The tightly controlled guest list included arguably the most important travel media name, Divia Thani, above, Editor-in-Chief of all issues of Conde Nast Traveler globally. There was HRH The Princess Royal, in a stunning sea-blue outfit. Accor’s Chairman and CEO Sébastien Bazin was in French blue, as was his CEO Orient-Express and Raffles, Omer Acar. Looking down, one could see the Mayor of London was also in blue but he forgot his tie. Looking up, there was he who never makes the slightest sartorial slip-up, operational lord high executioner of Raffles OXO, Philippe Leboeuf. Sadly it was impossible to see what Rishi Sunak was wearing but the strong Indian contingent was immaculately clad, as was A&K owner and entrepreneur Manfredi Lefebvre.
Prima ballerinas in white tutus pirouetted and violinists in geranium red flounces with aligator length trains strung, first on plinths and later, on the main stage, they accompanied Andrea Bocelli. Yes really. Him. He who has a ten-concert US tour before the 2023 festive season. And then Bocelli, for the first time, operated as a duo, with Andrew Lloyd Webber at the piano. They had never before made music together. The 600-strong crowd went wild. Youtube Andrea Bocelli at Raffles London https://youtu.be/ZWgsns9BPrg
The setting was magical. The Hindujas had covered over the building’s central courtyaard, two days’ put up, two days take down. From the transparent roof hung eight pilates ball-sized exquisite floral affairs that changed colour as the minutes passed. Laurent-Perrier was endless, as were rum cocktails and masses of water. Finger food, all veggie, included one-bite beetroot-topped pancakes taken off large silver platters decorated like Chelsea Flower Show. Servers acted as if they had been doing this forever rather than performing at pre-opening.
And then the building. The Old War Office, now known as OWO. GP Hinduja spoke of its past and the secrets it held, Churchill and Ian Fleming and James Bond and real spies galore. Sébastien Bazin answered, having effusively praised all concerned so far, that now it is up to Raffles to take it forward.
See why last night was the hotel party of all time?