The iconic archway between Trafalgar Square and The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace is sold for £60m to Spanish developers, after a competitive bid. Their plan? Refit it as a luxury hotel and restaurant with astounding views from both sides of the dining room.
The Admiralty Arch, built in 1912 in memory of Queen Victoria, will be open to the public for the first time after serving as a block of offices for civil servants. It was a tight bid but in the end Prime Investors Capital won the possibility to buy 80,000 square feet of the archway with a 99-year leasehold with one condition: the arch must be restored to its original glory according to the plans set out by the architect and designer, Sir Aston Webb.
Over the years, decades really, of being used as office space, the grandness of the arch has lost its lustre, particularly the interiors. While Ministers had hoped for a bit more money from the sale, it’s smiles all around that a historical Grade-One listed building can now be open to the public and used to attract more tourism.
The hotel will feature 100 rooms and the restaurant on the top floor will offer diners panoramic views of Trafalgar Square to one side and The Mall leading up to Buckingham Palace on the other. The hotel developers hope to attract more than 50,000 guests a year to this new London hotel.
The historic arch was commissioned by King Edward VII to honour the memory of his mother, Queen Victoria and was used as residences for the Sea Lords of the Admiralty, hence the name Admiralty Arch. Many a ceremonial parade has marched under this arch, and many will in the future. So is it a happy ending for a royal heritage building that was ignored and now finds itself about to get a total make-over? We’ll see.