How luxury landmarks are reshaping cities

type - big idea
Big Idea
sector - travel & hospitality
sector - luxury
To strengthen their cultural relevance during moments of global unrest, luxury brands are renovating historic monuments and refurbishing public spaces

Neo-luxury landing: Rockefeller Center

In the past, most New Yorkers would have avoided tourist hotspots like Rockefeller Center unless an out-of-town relative was visiting. Yet the destination is undergoing a luxury transformation at the hands of real estate company Tishman Speyer, which is opening a series of niche boutiques and elevated eateries. Now, the tourist trap is becoming a hangout for discerning locals, while also seeking to attract affluent residents to relocate to the area.

In addition to restaurants like Lodi, run by Michelin-starred chef Ignacio Mattos, and the soon-to-open Naro, led by husband-and-wife team Junghyun and Ellia Park, the complex has welcomed independent fashion labels like footwear brand Armando Cabral, jewellery designer Eva Fehren and woven accessories label Bembien. Instead of mega-labels and franchise restaurants, these new additions point to a future of inner-city luxury destinations designed for cultured luxurians and gourmands.

Historic hospitality: Britain’s War Office

In London, the Old War Office, the former headquarters of Winston Churchill and other prominent statesmen and spies, is being transformed into a luxury hotel by Raffles Hotels & Resorts and the Hinduja Group. This will mark the first time that the landmark Grade II-listed building, which was designed by British architect William Young, will be open to the public.

Situated in one of London's most historically significant addresses, the hotel will include 120 rooms and suites, 85 distinctively branded homes, 11 destination restaurants and bars, an extensive wellness area and a spa. In addition to being the backdrop to innumerable world-shaping events, the hotel also inspired Ian Fleming to write the renowned James Bond series and is a prominent location in many films of the franchise. Now, guests will be able to enjoy the same unrivalled views of St James’s Park from the building’s turret suites, much like in the movies.

Published by:

8 September 2022

Author: Lavinia Fasano and Olivia Houghton

Image: Minoan, US


Perfumer’s Garden in Château de Versailles is supported by Maison Francis Kurkdjian, France

Gateway getaways: Admiralty Arch

While residents and tourists were never allowed to step inside London's Admiralty Arch, its imposing presence as the gateway to The Mall, leading to Buckingham Palace, makes it an imposing part of the city's landscape. Now, this former government structure and Grade I-listed building is being renovated into a Waldorf Astoria hotel and residence.

The hotel will have three restaurants, several suites and 96 bedrooms. There will also be a spa, a private members’ club, and apartments for those who wish to take permanent residence in the London landmark. In this way, Waldorf Astoria is turning a landmark into a future-facing luxury enclave. ‘Since 2015, when we acquired Admiralty Arch from the British government, we have made many decisions that will impact not only the future of the building and the local area, but also the profile of the very heart of London,’ explains Rafael Serrano, the CEO of Prime Investors Capital, the company financing the redevelopment.

Public gardens: Maison Francis Kurkdjian

In France, LVMH-owned fragrance company Maison Francis Kurkdjian is partnering with the Château de Versailles to fund the development of the Perfumer’s Garden, a public-facing plot that will open in 2023 brimming with plants and flowers historically used in perfumery.

The preservation of the garden specifically honours the 17th century, when Louis XIV commissioned the construction of gardens as places to produce rich, fragrant flowers for use in perfume-making. Supporting this legacy is central to this project's aim, while also opening the gardens to the public for the first time. Here, they will discover traditional fragrant plants like roses and jasmine alongside uncommon blooms with scents of apple and chocolate. There will also be a place for malodorous plants and 'mute' species like hyacinth, peony and violet, whose fragrance must be artificially imitated for perfumes.

‘We have made many decisions that will impact the profile of the very heart of London.’
Rafael Serrano, CEO, Prime Investors Capital​​

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