After the roaring success of the high profile Fashion/Hotel hybrids launched in the past few years (think: Karl Lagerfeld's Monaco 'Odyssey, and Versace's Sydney and Dubai 'Palazzos') the next step should have been obvious: The Hotel Home. As prices have risen, so have expectations. No longer is a home just a home; now a home should provide a seamless transition from the world of hotel living and concierge service...
The past 5 years have seen an explosion in the number and type of 'designer hotels' - crossovers between luxury fashion brands and established hotel chains or developers. In the world of the wealthy and mobile (the new 'global super-rich') the lines between discrete experiences begin to blur, and these consumers demand an end-to-end experience that requires the aesthetic, and level of service, to be maintained as they move through their lives.
The key difference, in terms of what buyers are asking for now, revolves around service and amenities.
Many wealthy modern buyers live busy, and mobile lives. That makes managing and maintaining a permanent home much more difficult. And if you're thinking that this all sounds a little bit spoiled and decadent, well it might be worth considering that the young rich are actually shunning the idea of the live-in 'help' that their parents would have been used to; the help that would normally have looked after the home whilst they were off around the globe.
The new rich want to enjoy the feeling of living 'normal lives', unencumbered by a vast army of servants, and yet some things still need to be done - bills must be paid, packages signed for, amenities close by...
So how can this lofty goal be achieved?
It turns out the answer was pretty obvious - blending the hotel experience with the idea (and privacy) of one's own fixed and stable home. And since these are the consumers with the cash to spend right now, developers are paying attention.
It's not uncommon for 'short let' apartments to be adjacent to, or enjoy the amenities of a top hotel. Now that experience is being rolled out for permanent homes too...
The hybrid of a stable & private home, with the hotel experience... It's a trend that's here to stay.
Some notable forays into this new space have set the standard for a new type of living, and just like couture fashion filters down to the high street, we can expect to see this trend for ultra-amenitied living to filter down to the mid market over the next few years.
Let's take a look at some of the major London projects catering to this trend...
BEST UPCOMING DEVELOPMENT WITH ALL-SERVICE EXTRAS
20 Grosvenor Square, by Finchatton
This new development is located on one of central London’s most desirable garden squares, Grosvenor Square, in the heart of Mayfair, W1. Luxury developer Finchatton are overseeing the redevelopment of the former US Naval Headquarters, with planning consent to provide thirty-seven residential apartments with impressive lateral layouts, and underground car parking. The development is due to complete in early 2018, and will luxury amenities will not be in short supply. The amenities for 20GS will be provided by the nearby Four Seasons - this is truly hotel living, in your own prestige home.
The units are unique in other ways too… Finchatton are known for their requisite standard of design & finish, and they’ve really pushed the boat out on this one. Something rather special about these are the layouts - large lateral spaces are difficult to come by in this location; it would mean owning a whole stretch of properties side-by-side, so as to create lateral units across multiple terraced buildings. Finchatton have really thought this through, and tapped into what modern, wealthy buyers are after. It’s modern, lateral living in the heart of the city, that feels like a home but operates like a hotel. Developments like this one are raising both standards, and prices, and it’s easy to see why…
BEST EXISTING DEVELOPMENT WITH ALL-SERVICE EXTRAS
The Lancasters, a joint project by Northacre and Minerva
The Lancasters is an example of getting development right on every level. This gated project faces Hyde Park on the North side, and is built into a stretch of beautifully restored Grade II listed, stucco-front terraces, with park views. The rarity of obtaining such a site (try acquiring an entire stretch of period buildings in a location like this!) certainly makes it very special. But what they’ve done with the site development really is a lesson in maximising your assets…
The adjoining terraces were modernised with impeccable attention to detail. Combining the buildings, and completely gutting the internals, allowed for lateral modern layouts spanning across multiple buildings. Period features have been carefully restored, so you’re left with all the charm and grandeur of a period home, but with truly modern layouts and fittings, and all the amenities and services of a luxury hotel. Quite a feat.
The development offers residents chic apartment living, with park views. A gym, pool, and spa facilities are all on site, as well as underground parking, and a 24 hour concierge service renowned in the city for it’s over-and-above approach to meeting resident’s needs. Certainly one of the best places to live in London.
One Hyde Park, by Candy & Candy
One Hyde Park is in a great location - facing Hyde Park, in Knightsbridge. The interior styling is very impressive, as you’d expect for a Candy brothers build, however the exterior styling has been rather polarising. Whilst the apartments themselves are truly spectacular, and the amenities are beyond reproach, the eye-watering prices have self-selected a ownership base that is often absent, leaving many of the units unoccupied for most of the year. As a place to live, it’s tricky to build a community vibe in a development that is mostly deserted.
One Kensington Gardens, by David Chipperfield Architects
One Kensington Gardens is situated right opposite Kensington Gardens - a pretty fantastic spot. The exterior of the 9 story behemoth has certainly divided opinion; residents of the area either love or loathe it’s bold, modern aspect. One thing that can’t be denied is that OKG offers residents an all-encompassing home experience… Impressive lobby, enormous gym, pool and spa, treatment rooms, underground valet parking, and 24 hours concierge service; with everything on offer it’s hard to imagine why you’d ever need to go outside. The only reason this didn’t make my top 3 is styling and atmosphere. The top tier and show apartments are exquisite, however units further back seem a bit rushed and awkward, which is a shame. Whatsmore, the site is so austere and imposing that it does lack the sort of elegant charm found at Academy Gardens and others, despite a veritable smorgasbord of amenities.