From Georgian mansions to 1960s bungalows: inside the residences of Britain’s ambassadors

From georgian mansions to 1960s bungalows: inside the residences of britain’s ambassadors
The British ambassador’s residence in Washington DC / © Getty Images

They are full of history and intrigue, home to secretive meetings and glittering ambassador’s receptions. They have hosted celebrities, royals, respected world leaders and business people. And Tony Blair.

The Foreign Office has announced that former ministers will no longer be able to stay at British ambassadors’ residences unless their trip aids government work. It follows a freedom of information request that revealed the former prime minister had stayed rent-free with ambassadors in cities including Washington and Tripoli. Anthony Seldon, the historian and author of The Architecture of Diplomacy, says it is “petty” to care about Blair. “To have a former prime minister and someone who is so knowledgeable [about world affairs] staying at any embassy will add considerable value to the embassy, the staff and the country,” he says.

So, what is it like to have a holiday – sorry, take a diplomatic trip to further British interests abroad – at an ambassador’s residence? “It is like staying in a mixture of a grand, old-world, four-star hotel and an officer’s quarters at a barracks,” says Seldon (they are not quite five-star standard – “they are very aware it is government money”, he adds). “It is slightly institutional, slightly ‘civil service’. One is very well looked after, but you are also in a working office. There is a routine; you have your name put up on [your bedroom] door, and there will be a timetable for you. It’s quite unlike anything else. The diplomatic service are extraordinarily urbane and civilised, but you’re aware that you’re in a government building.” […]

Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today.
Aline Chahine
Aline Chahine
Aline is an international licensed architect currently practicing in Canada, she is the reason you are reading this right now, Aline founded the platform back in 2008 shaping the very foundation of Architecture Lab, her exemplary content curation process that defines the online magazine today. Highlights Aline founded Architecture Lab in 2008 Lead editor of dan | dailyarchnews since 2019 Founded and Creative Director of DesignRaid Licensed architect with creative sales and marketing experience Experience As full-fledged architect, Aline's background involved a great deal of research that lead to the creation of Architecture Lab as an online database of exemplary design. Her experience snowballed into founding two architecture platforms, Architecture Lab and DesignRaid. Education Aline received USEK’s Master of Architecture in 2004 and BA in English from the University of Toronto
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About Architecture Lab Architecture Lab is a MKR.S Media brand, a website devoted to extraordinary design and aesthetics aiming to promote exceptional aesthetic values and sustainable design in all it's shapes and sizes. Learn more about us and our editorial process and feel free to contact us if you would like to see something in particular on the website, our certified experts will get back to you with the most trustworthy advice as soon as possible. Read all articles by Aline | Follow her on LinkedIn

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