The top three placings in The Sunday Times Rich List 2019 have been filled by three billionaires who have hotel investments in the UK.
Sri and Gopi Hinduja, best known as industrialists and financiers, took the top spot in the annual list with a fortune of £22b. Their hotel interest is focused on the iconic Old War Office in London (pictured), which they jointly own with Spanish developer Obrascon Huarte Lain Desarrollos (OHLD), and are in the process of transforming into a luxury 125-bedroom hotel which will operate under the Raffles Hotels & Resorts brand.
Planning permission for the hotel was granted in 2017 when Gopi Hinduja, co-chairman of the Hinduja Group, said: "Our new partnership with Raffles Hotels and Resorts is a significant milestone in our vision to transform the Old War Office into London's finest luxury destination. Raffles brings a unique understanding of British heritage and tradition that will help revive this great British landmark."
Last year they bought the 120-bedroom Curtain hotel and members' club in London's Shoreditch, which they leased back to New York hotelier Michael Achenbaum and his partner Jeffrey Levine, and also acquired a number of properties in Poland Street and Great Marlborough Street in Soho with a view to redevelop the site into a 118-bedroom hotel. The new hotel will operate under a new brand from Shiva Hotels.
Other hospitality interests held by the Reuben brothers include the Grade I-listed 94 Piccadilly, affectionately known as the In and Out Club, which is in the process of being converted into a 102-bedroom luxury hotel. They also own a portfolio of hotels across England, including the Lingfield Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club in Surrey and the Hilton Garden Inn at Doncaster Racecourse, as well as the Wellington Pub Company.
Meanwhile, industrialist Jim Ratcliffe, who last year topped the list, fell to third place after his wealth dropped by £2.9b to £18.5b.
Founder of the Ineo chemical business, Ratcliffe's hotel investments include Lime Wood, near Lyndhurst in the heart of the New Forest and a 50% stake in Home Grown Hotels, which operates the six-strong collection of Pig hotels. Following the launch of the sixth Pig in Bridge, near Canterbury, Kent, last month, two more properties are set to join the group in Cornwall and West Sussex next year.